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Use The Navy SEAL's 40% Rule To Achieve The Impossible. A common obstacle of success in sales leadership is getting stuck in a rut.  Worry, fear and doubt are manufactured emotions that can limit a sales team’s ability to achieve their goals and potential.  The rut is a comfort zone for you and your organization.  Success can still happen in the rut, but according to the Navy SEAL’s 40% Rule, the big wins will never be achieved here. 

SEALs know these principles:

  1. Real change takes time.  SEALs commit to setting the goal, doing the work day after day, month after month, year after year.
  2. To get out of the rut, you must do one thing each day that is outside of your comfort zone.
  3. SEALs create their own reality based on their expectations.  They expect to win as a team.

What is the Navy SEAL’s 40% rule?

Navy SEALs recognize that in a physical event when the mind tells a person that they are physically maxed out, that person is actually only 40% done.  A person is capable of doing 60% more than they believe is possible for themselves.  The rule can be applied to other life areas as well, such as in sales or management. 

99% of runners who start a marathon finish it for the same reasons.  They commit to the goal and apply the same mental toughness of the Navy SEALs-- with no limits

The 40% represents what you know you are capable of achieving.  It does not necessarily mean it is easy, but you know it is achievable and you may be able to call it a success.  For example, you might forecast a 10% increase in sales revenue knowing all the while that 20% would be a win, but just out of reach.  Playing it safe at 10% is still considered a success by your company, but keeps you in the “safe zone.”  If you are a decision maker for your organization, remove the fear of failure when forecasts are not reached.  When you strive for your reach goals, you will almost always come in above your safe goals.  If a sales team has a reach goal of 20% increase in sales, and they end up at 16%, they are still 6% over the safe forecast of 10%. 

“60% of what you think is impossible is limited by your own belief system.”

If you have ever worked out with a personal trainer or been a part of a competitive athletic team, you understand the power of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone or until it “hurts.”  Setting goals that are outside of your perceived limits is called growth.  Just as muscle growth occurs during the repair phase of being pushed, so can your growth as a manager and leader.

Finding the 60% in your team

  1. Identify the reach goal for your organization.  Better yet, engage the team to identify it with you for buy-in.
  2. Define how or to who you will be accountable.  Putting the goal in writing or communicating the goal to your team or company leadership will force you past the 40% comfort zone. 
  3. Employ curiosity into your coaching strategy by incorporating the 5 Whys questioning technique – asking five consecutive WHY questions about any problem or obstacle to uncover the root cause of each.  Here’s an example of uncovering what is under the iceberg with WHY questions when a sales rep is struggling with prospecting behaviors:

WHY?  I’m struggling with my cold calls

WHY?  I’m not comfortable on the phone

WHY?  I feel like a nuisance when I call

WHY?  When I get sales calls on the phone, my workday is interrupted.

WHY?  Because they immediately try to sell me something.

WHY?  I guess they haven’t been taught the importance of bonding and rapport. 

SEALs say mental toughness can be learned and that the individual is the only thing standing in his/her own way.  What comfort zones are you or your team stuck in?  Why are you afraid of your reach goals?  What 5 WHY questions should you be asking to get unstuck?

To learn more, download our free report 9 Key Factors that Will Guide You to Success.


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