Planning to change anything this year? Or are you stuck?

It’s easy to get stuck and, if you are, hard to get yourself back in motion. Resolving to accomplish big tasks, meditating on grand ambitions, is probably not the way. Grand ambitions dissolve in a day or so, especially if you have no plan. The way big things get done is in small ways.

For instance, you might have noticed that when you make a list and you start with the most complicated, labor-intensive item, nothing on the list gets crossed off that day. When you make a list and you start by knocking out the easiest thing, you soon move to the next, gathering energy and momentum. You’re in motion.

On the Move Again

So how to get your sales career moving? Selling is a profession. Like any profession, you can always get better at it. Especially if you’re willing to invest in yourself.

Have you noticed how really successful people always invest in themselves? And usually they’re willing to invest a lot.

So what if you decided to invest 1% of your annual income — say $1,000 — enhancing your skills this year. What kind of difference would that make in your performance?

Here’s how to do it. First, figure out where, or what, you’d like to improve. You might think you know what should change, but this isn’t going to work until you ask someone else. We’re all heroes in our own little dramas and because of that we lose perspective when it comes to recognizing, let alone evaluating, our strengths and weaknesses. We don’t go to the mirror seeking warts.

So if you’re ready for honest evaluation, ask a close friend or colleague this question: If there’s one part of me or my job that could use improvement, what would it be?

Odds are they’ll tell you something you’ve already heard. Even so, this is useful information. It may not be the first time you’ve heard it, but it will probably be the first time you’re willing to pay attention.

They might say: You’re not the best listener. Or: You don’t follow through well. Or: Your time management skills could use improvement.

The Top Three

Typically, those are the three biggest areas where salespeople can get better. For instance, if you’re not good at listening, you can go in a house and talk on endlessly about your product’s color, shape, and design, ignoring what the homeowner wants to tell you about why he has you out there to begin with. You walk out without a sale because you’re playing the wrong music.

Invest 1% and whatever time is needed in yourself and see what happens. Get a new hair style. Buy new shoes. Read some books about sales. Attend a sales seminar. Work with a personal consultant. How do you feel? How would you feel if you invested 2%? Or even 3%? —Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at