Action vs. Reaction Culture

Tony Hughes


What does it mean to be truly proactive? As Elvis put it: "A little less conversation, a little more action." Are you guilty of waiting around for the phone to ring? Is it your start-up culture? Are you leaning far too much on Marketing and Demand Generation or are you going out and proactively hunting in named accounts?

Leonardo da Vinci said: "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

Ask yourself, are you doing enough? Or, just chatting about it at the water cooler. This is the most insidious threat to the success of the modern sales practitioner. It goes beyond GTD or 'getting things done'. Timing is the X factor of the elite sales hunter.

Each day when you come to work, grab a pen and paper and write down the top 3 actions you will take before lunch to move the needle. Go confirm them with your manager. She will be very impressed, especially after you've done this a few days and achieved many milestones by 9am while your contemporaries are still reactively chasing e-mails.

Excessively over-planning is a cancer. One imperious executive stopped his Board in its track to build a "plan for the plan." I can't make these stories up! We don't need a deeper Gantt chart. One wrote about one CEO who doesn't believe in business plans... 90 days action plans instead. We don't need reporting on the reporting. We need brass tacks action: face time with dream clients. Call the switch, charm the EA, get to their neighborhood. Spend time with your clients understanding their pains and its implications.

The behavior of your leader is the culture. Do you work for someone that works as hard as you do. Are they phoning it in or using delegation as a proxy for action? Leaders that act decisively succeed in battle. Delegation is an action, make no mistake, but as Marissa Mayer says in interviews, she makes a list every day and if she gets to the very bottom something went wrong.

Effective action is a constant process of 80/20 prioritization. The rocks and the sand, I've written about it before. Don't spend all day with happy ears working on speculative proposals to make them letter perfect. Act now. Strategize after hours, come to work with your A game ready to execute. You can accomplish more in 3 hours than most sellers do in a day. After all, the average seller sells for about 1.5 hours per day. Why not crush it and go out to lunch! Never Eat Alone I might add: great book!

Before you go home, always make one last call. Make sure you always hit that 5 to 12 touches sweet spot in social selling or otherwise. Blend your channels together. The law of convergence holds in modern prospecting, it holds true at every aspect of the 2015 funnel - even closing. Test, tune and optimize. Ready, fire, aim!

Write your LinkedIn update and Publisher blog content at night after dinner... shoot the television just like Joshua Peters did. Blogs are not like books, publish then edit. Set 20 minutes to plan, then call. But don't waste time. Connect and set the appointment - then deep dive! The main thing is to actually know why meeting you should be important to them... can you answer these questions: Why meet with you? The follow-up is just like it: What can you do for them at a business level?

Is your culture active or reactive? What are you doing to change it? What strategies do you personally use to manage your day so that you're optimizing your output and effort? How are you proactive as a manager of other people? Please answer below.


Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at


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