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I live in the heart of Buckeye Country, and it’s a bit of a given to watch and learn from all things Ohio State. (I promise, only one football reference.)

Since he arrived in Columbus, Head Football Coach Urban Meyer has set himself and his team apart. In fact, one of the essential focus areas of his program is leadership development for the team. Meyer will frequently mention the formula they share with the players: E + R = O. Or “Event + Response = Outcome.” This is a philosophy developed by leadership expert Tim Kight.

The basics of E + R = O means that while I can’t always influence an Event or an Outcome, I’m in total control of my Response. I get to choose how I show up.

This same concept can be applied in sales, as well as on the field. As a Modern Seller, what does the way you respond say about you? And how does it affect your sales performance?

In any given day, we have hundreds of interactions. Virtual and live, written and spoken. They take place through email, social media, and phone calls, or in sales meetings and presentations. Your response in any given interaction broadcasts your personal and corporate brand. It’s an opportunity to be a differentiator, which is at the heart of modern selling.

Consider for a moment how you respond to what’s happening around you. Many times, you may not give a conscious thought to your responses to colleagues, customers and prospects. There’s a difference between reaction (unconscious) and response (thoughtful and conscious).

When we move from reaction to response, it indicates a shift in our mindset around what it means to lead. These are just a couple of recent examples in my sales life:

  • A last-minute appointment scheduled with a CEO. First, I chose to say yes and not pass up the opportunity. I had about 20 minutes to prepare. If I were in reaction mode, I would have winged that conversation. Never a good idea, especially with a CEO. What did I do instead with that 20 minutes? I did a bit of research on his LinkedIn profile, scanned a few articles on challenges facing his industry, reviewed a couple of press releases, and wrote three substantive questions I could ask. I walked in ready and confident for the conversation, and it resulted in identifying a couple of areas where we might work together in the future.
  • An introduction at a networking event to a potential client. I met a talent professional at a recent event. We had about two minutes to talk, and she asked me what I do. It just so happened that I read an article on her organization, and so I knew they went through an acquisition and a relocation. In reaction mode, I could have told her everything I do and hope something stuck. In response mode, I chose instead to tell her in one sentence the type of work that I do. To which she responded, “we need to talk!” We exchanged business cards and now I have an opportunity to follow up for more conversation and qualify the opportunity potential.

I hope this gets you thinking about how you respond in your next interaction. With intent or reaction? When we remember to respond with intent, we can position ourselves as a differentiator, a leader, and a modern seller.

This article is the third in a series on creating your sales leader identity. You can also read about leading through your actions, and establishing a strong visual and verbal presence. Look for the next article soon.

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