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How To Ensure a Successful Performance Every Time

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

blackboard with ABC written on it

Summer is over, school is back in session and I want to talk ABCs. I mean having an ABC plan.

Last week, I wrote about having a Mastery Orientation – a mindset shift in which you focus less on the outcome of a single event, and think more about the event as a sum part that adds to our learning experience. An ABC plan puts the mastery orientation concept into action.

ABC Plans help you prepare in advance for a big event or performance such as a sales meeting, public speaking or performance review. It offers a no-fail approach so that whatever happens, you feel successful because you planned for different outcomes. This is what it looks like:

Let’s use the example of a sales meeting. You are pitching a client on a new product. It is something you know would be perfect for them but you also know that their budget is tight. You’ve put your case together for the pitch and now you need to think about your own performance preparation – your ABC Plan.

A. This is your ideal outcome. What does this look like for you? Get a picture of exactly what you want out of the meeting.

Our example:

Your pitch is so convincing, so on-target, that your client knows she has to have your product and she tells you she will find the budget to make it happen.

B. This is the next best thing. If you don’t get exactly what you are hoping for, what would be another satisfying outcome? Think about other outcomes that would have value for you.

Our example:

The client liked the product a lot but couldn’t swing the cost this year with all of her major budget accounted for. However, she was appreciative of the work put into the presentation and would seriously consider for next year, when she could set budget aside in advance. She said she would follow up when she starts working on next year’s budget.

In this example, you see that while, you didn’t get the sale, you got permission to continue the conversation and received positive feedback about both the presentation and the product.

C. Learn something. This is the plan for when things don't go as you hoped. Think about what could make this situation one that still has value, one in which you could still take something away.

Our example:

You missed the mark here, misreading the client’s needs. She doesn’t want what you are selling because it isn’t right for her at all. Because you’ve considered Plan C, you know to ask her a lot of questions so that you can fill in your gaps and learn something.

Result: While you didn’t make the sale and you didn’t have a great read of the customer’s needs, you now know what her needs are. You can feed back the information to the product team at your company and you can use this feedback to inform future presentations with both this client and, potentially, others. In fact, while not the most profitable, this may have been the most useful outcome of all.

Let's take our same scenario and consider what many of us do by default: go in with the ideal, Plan A, only. What happens when we don’t get it, when we don’t make the sale? We will find fault in ourselves and/or in others. We look for reasons we failed, rather than see ways in which we succeeded. Not only that, as you can see in our example, when you consider the different possibilities in advance, you actually behave differently in the event, opening yourself up to the different opportunities your situation presents.

Interested in more to move you forward? Download my free self coaching guide to help you Shift Out of Neutral & Into Action!

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