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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 14, 2008 • Issue 08:07:01

Change, a rewarding discomfort

By Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

As this presidential election year progresses, there is one word we are sure to hear often: change. We will hear it from the candidates and their surrogates - all claiming their version of change is the best.

In the payments world, change is a constant. We see it in interchange rates, in the need for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance, in terminal usage and in the needs of our merchant customers.

Most of us handle new developments in these areas naturally. We may complain, but we adapt; we have no choice.

When it comes to personal change, however, we all resist.

If you are currently exceeding all your expectations and have no reason to improve your sales, read no further: You don't need to change. But the odds are you will read on.

It is safe to assume that, in today's market, all of us are seeking improvement in our performance. Yet, when this requires deviating from our norms, we hesitate. We continue in the old ways and hope the market will adapt to us.

The truth is growth will only come through true, meaningful change. Until we accept this premise, we are not likely to reach new heights. Historically, those in our industry who don't adapt and change have lost market share. Therefore, change isn't just desirable; it's a necessity.

People fear change for three primary reasons. It:

  1. Is painful
  2. Requires effort
  3. Means leaving your comfort zone

It's easy to see why change is avoided.

On top of that, even those who overcome inertia and fear and make a commitment to change may not fully understand what in their business practices actually needs adjustment.

Step it up

Here are some easy steps to help you identify areas to improve:

  • Examine your goals: Before you do anything, you must review your goals. Were they realistic when you first set them? Do they need to be adjusted based on today's market conditions? Did anything happen since the goals were set that has had a serious impact on your being able to reach them?

    The idea is not to lower your expectations to your current production levels and call yourself successful. However, goals are not set in a vacuum. Many of us set our current goals before the market downturn. In some cases, we set benchmarks with staffing expectations that no longer apply.

    Your goals should require effort, but they shouldn't be unreachable based on your conditions today. Goals set too high become unrealistic and have no motivational benefit. You're setting a goal,not a dream.

  • Examine your action plan: To be useful, a goal must have an action plan associated with it. Such plans should lead to success, yet we all tend to take only those steps that are comfortable for us. Use this re-examination to identify actions that are uncomfortable, and work them into your plan.

    Add actions you've never tried before. Eliminate those that have resulted in little to no business. Look for opportunities to expand your efforts in areas that have shown results previously.

    No matter what you do, rework your plan, for it has been said by many: If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always gotten.

  • Examine your attitude: No matter what plans you put in place or what goals you set, your attitude will ultimately drive your success.

    Many who were extremely successful previously have found the tighter market has bruised their egos. This has resulted in an internal resistance to doing what is necessary to thrive.

    Answer these questions to see if they apply to you:

    • Do you find yourself resisting or delaying a task that used to be simple for you to do?
    • Do you rationalize why you don't need to call certain potential clients?
    • Do you postpone executing action plan steps until late in the day when you tend to be least effective or when prospects aren't likely to be available?

    If you answered yes to any of these questions, perform an attitude adjustment. Until you change your point of view, nothing you do will result in added success.

    Eliminate emotion caused by your ego, and you will find that your attitude will immediately improve. Don't let success be defined by the number of merchants you sign. Instead, define success by how well you execute your plan.

    Remember, in sales, a prospect doesn't define your worth. There can only be one you, and you are the best you there can be.

Goal setting, action and attitude are interrelated. True transformation requires all three. Changing one area without adapting the other two won't improve your results. Just adjusting your goal but not addressing your action plan or attitude won't improve your production.

And improving your attitude alone (without addressing action plan issues or unrealistic goals) will only result in lackluster business and further damage to your attitude.

Change isn't easy; neither is going to the dentist. We tend to avoid both equally. Yet, when we have a serious tooth problem, the temporary pain of treatment is better than the long-term affects of not addressing the issue.

The same goes for change. Think of it as treating an abscessed tooth. Deal with the necessary pain, for in the end, your smile will be much better. end of article

Jeff Fortney is Director of Business Development with Clearent LLC. He has more than 12 years experience in the payments industry. Contact him at jeff@clearent.com or 972-618-7340.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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