Written By: Jeb Blount
Podcast: Play in new window | Embed
Subscribe: Google Podcasts | Spotify | Pandora | iHeartRadio | Stitcher | Email | RSS
Kaizen is a theory that developed in Japan after World War II and revived the country, their spirit, and their commerce. It’s similar to what we call “feeding the pipeline,” and involves the art of cumulative prospecting. If you set aside time every day for prospecting, you will find a steady flow of success and less stress!
I recently posted a podcast of my discussion with Kristin Austin, where we talked about the importance of perseverance in life and sales and how you can apply the same theory of continuously moving forward to finding satisfaction and success in both.
Japan was in ruins after World War II, and the nation had the task of cleaning up the devastation and overcoming the hopelessness and helplessness that had taken hold. A movement developed that is now a part of their national ideation to this day. It’s called “Kaizen,” and is similar to what Kristin and I discussed.
Kaizen in Japanese means “a change for continuous improvement.” In this case, it’s a business philosophy rooted in making small progress every day to improve your life and find success. Kaizen is based on the idea that it isn’t so much about the grand changes and ideas that we have; change is found in the small steps that add up to large-scale and lasting habits that lead to success.
After hitting rock bottom, the Japanese realized that thinking about the gravity of the destruction and what they had to do to overcome it could become paralyzing. The same is true of sales. The enormity of hitting quota, closing a big sale, and feeding the pipeline can be overwhelming. This can put many salespeople in a state of paralysis where they miss the methodical and gradual steps to get there.
After Kristin was in an accident that permanently altered her life, she had the choice to either give up and retire, or take small steps to get back to her career, pick up the business she had built, and do what she loved again. It initially seemed like a daunting task, so she took minuscule steps, as she called them. One was picking up the Fanatical Prospecting book to gain inspiration.
Then every day, she would do one small thing that would bring her closer to her goal. She didn’t try to set the world on fire; she set out to make one small daily improvement toward rebuilding her life. Kristin emphasized, “If you are moving in the right direction even slightly, you are moving, which differs from being paralyzed.”
In the podcast, we also discussed the notion of “feeding the pipeline.” The mistake I often see salespeople make is that they fill the pipeline by prospecting up front, but once the sales start coming in, they stop feeding it.
They’re on a roll, so they aren’t paying attention to the fact that their pipeline is emptying. And when they do notice, they recognize that nothing is coming down the pipeline because it has gone dry. That puts them in a situation where they become desperate and focus on closing the sale, rather than solving the problems that their clients are having and making an improvement in their lives.
So the key to being successful in prospecting is not letting your pipeline run dry. Let’s face it: not many people enjoy cold-calling others and asking them to buy something they may or may not want. However, that’s not what pipelining is.
Filling your pipeline means seeking out those people who not only need your product or service; it means finding the people who would most benefit from what you’re offering. When you change your mindset from closing to helping, you increase your satisfaction, decrease your stress, and stop feeling the weight of paralyzing stress.
By taking one small and continuous step every day, or putting aside time to prospect for just one hour a day, you will improve your career, your life, and feed your pipeline so that you can prevent it from running dry. Believe me, we have all been there, and that is not a great or inspirational place to be.
I had many takeaways from my sit-down with Kristin, but the theory of Kaizen and the pipeline are especially important – not just for your success as a salesperson, but for your continual growth and satisfaction in your professional and personal career.
“Prospecting is one thing that you have to do that most people don’t want to. When you fill up your pipeline, it frees you up to do a better job. Setting aside an hour every morning for prospecting, which I call the ‘chop the wood,’ has a cumulative impact because it begins to build up like compound interest. The moment you begin to stop prospecting is the moment your pipeline runs dry. The fuller the pipeline, the pickier you can be about your prospects. A little bit every day is all that you need.” – Jeb Blount
Jeb Blount’s book, Fanatical Prospecting, gives salespeople, sales leaders, entrepreneurs, and executives a practical, eye-opening guide. It outlines the most important activity in sales and business development – prospecting. Download our free Fanatical Prospecting Book Club Guide HERE.
Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…
Join more than 360,000 professionals who get our weekly newsletter.
Self-paced courses from the
world's top sales experts
Live, interactive instruction in small
groups with master trainers
One-to-one personalized coaching
focused on your unique situation