If I can do it, you can do it.

“You won’t get to second unless you take your foot off first.” That’s a saying in American baseball. The bases are 90 feet apart, and unless you’re standing on one of them, you can be tagged out. Successful players must get out of their comfort zones and risk being tagged out in order to win the game.

I’m not looking forward to stepping out of my sales comfort zone this year, but I must. For me, it’s learning new technology. I love technology when it works, but I also find it frustrating. I’d much rather talk than text and have a video call than a phone call. I’d rather someone explain how to complete a task than read how to do it. Given that perspective, I think you’ll understand why I find technology rather boring. Sure, I can learn it, but it’s not in my sales comfort zone, and it’s not exciting for me. What excites me is working with prospects and clients on referral selling and experiencing together the dramatic results they achieve.

That said, I’ve committed to getting out of my sales comfort zone this year, and that means confronting my technology aversion head on. I’ll have a new platform for my referral course, and I might even have a new CRM. I’d delegate if I could. But this is mine. All mine.

Just like baseball, I won’t grow and get better unless I take my foot off first. I understand that. I’m not scared. I’m not putting my life in danger. I’m just not looking forward to it. I’ll tell myself what I tell everyone: Get Over It.

What sales comfort zone is holding you back? Let me know.

Also, here’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month:

Learn How to Get the Gatekeeper on Your Side

Why is getting past the gatekeeper and finding qualified leads so challenging for salespeople? Because prospecting has gotten incredibly complicated, even though it should be a no-brainer.

At most companies, prospecting is a balancing act that doesn’t always work so well. It starts with inbound leads—responding to leads from marketing, answering website inquiries, and following up with podcast and webinar attendees. Then there’s outbound lead generation—identifying trigger events, determining relevant content to send in an email, creating messaging, preparing short videos, and networking on social media. Layered on top of these activities are a myriad of sales enablement and social selling tools, all of which are intended to help salespeople with effective prospecting and, in turn, generating qualified sales leads. Simply put: There’s a lot coming at salespeople at once, and one thing standing in their way … or one person. The dreaded gatekeeper. (Read “Learn How to Get the Gatekeeper on Your Side.”)

Sales Managers: Think You’re Ready for Referrals?

If salespeople were self-motivated, they wouldn’t need sales managers or metrics. Yep, most of us are lazy and lack discipline. I’m including myself here. It’s a lonely world for account executives. I’ve been there—given a quota (usually without my input) and a list of client companies, and then told to “go at it” and do whatever it takes to get meetings. Sound familiar? Left to our own devices, most salespeople fail miserably. That’s why we need sales managers. Actually, what we need is strong sales leadership.

Whether you are a CEO, vice president, or sales manager, you have a central role in your company’s sales process and in the decision to transition from vapid outbound prospecting to selling through referrals. Referral selling is not just one more initiative to introduce to your organization. If you want to successfully shift to building a referral program and a robust sales climate, then as a company, you must commit to the transition and let everyone know that you are becoming a referral selling organization. (Read “Sales Managers: Think You’re Ready for Referrals?”)

Should You Throw Your Strategic Plan in the Trash?

“Joanne, the challenge is always in the execution.” That’s what a client told me more than 20 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Companies today purchase the latest and greatest sales technology, provide minimal training, and then wonder why it’s not adopted across the board. Because it doesn’t actually help with sales execution. For that, salespeople need to know how to have business conversations, how to build relationships, and how to take responsibility for delivering what they promised.

Nick Hulse, managing director of Europe for Sales Benchmark Index, says most companies aren’t achieving profitable growth, yet they have detailed strategic plans. What’s going  wrong? In his article, “How the Best CEOS Drive Their Strategy to the Salesforce,” he shares startling data about ineffective sales execution and specific steps to ensure this doesn’t happen in your company. (Read “Should You Throw Your Strategic Plan in the Trash?”)

Hey Sales Manager, Get Your Head Out of That Spreadsheet

“Message to Management: Your job is to get the rocks out of the road for your salespeople so they can do what they were hired to do—sell!” I wrote that 15 years ago in my first book. But I don’t think any sales manager listened, because more than half of reps are still missing quota. Why are we settling for this huge discrepancy? I don’t blame the salespeople for underperforming. I blame the sales manager for having the wrong priorities. If salespeople were self-motivated, they wouldn’t need managers or metrics. All of us perform our best when we are held accountable and have the tools to succeed. We respond to being shown, recognized, and rewarded for successful behaviors.

Michelle Vazzana at Vantage Point agrees that managers are focused on the wrong thing. Her Salesforce post—“How High Performing Sales Managers Crush Their Quota”—shares plenty of data to prove it. (Read “Hey Sales Manager, Get Your Head Out of That Spreadsheet.”)