Only fitness nerds like me know what it means to “grease the groove.”
I was first exposed to this concept when I read The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline, one of my favorite fitness personalities.
Normally when people work out, they think that their training results in bigger muscles which will indirectly improve performance.
But things are not so cut and dry.
What is greasing the groove?
Here’s a better way of explaining it:
“Greasing the groove is a training principle used to increase neurological pathways, gain strength and improve your ability to do an exercise. It involves practicing the exercise with many sets but with low reps, as to never bring the muscles to exhaustion.” – Freeletics blog
In other words, the repetition of a given movement will lead to a more thorough control of your neurological system. THIS is what will increase strength.
They say that strength is just the ability to control your nerves (which control your muscles). This is why in life and death situations, 150 lb housewives can lift 3000 lb cars off of their children.
Sure, they will be sore for two weeks afterwards, but in intense moments like that they are able to perform at an incredibly high level.
The difference is that when we set out to grease the groove, our style of training is going to be different than if we were just trying to increase the size of the muscle.
Right about now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with sales training.
In sales as in life, every time we do something, we become better at doing it in that specific way.
- Every time you brush your teeth, you are getting better at brushing your teeth.
- Every time you make coffee, you are getting better at making coffee.
- Every time you do a pull up, you are getting better at doing a pull up.
- Every time you dial a phone number, you are getting better at dialing a phone number.
Get the idea?
Every time you are doing one specific action, you are greasing the groove of that action.
When we think of our day at work like this, you can imagine how important it would be to focus on doing things as perfectly as possible.
For example, if every time a prospect hits with you the objection, “I want to think about it” and you bumble around verbally because you are caught off guard, then you are in effect getting better at bumbling around verbally.
And if you’re a salesperson who cares about their paycheck, then you could make the argument that this an undesirable outcome.
Similarly, if we incorporate good habits into our workflow, then each time we perform them they will grease THOSE grooves instead.
The deeper the grooves, the harder the habits they represent are to change.
If you have a set routine every single day that results in a specific outcome, then every time you execute that routine, you will end up with that outcome.
Know this: you are ALWAYS greasing the groove
Think of your day as an equation:
A + B + C ... + Z = XDJFSLA
If XDJFSLA = $52,000 per month, then that's a good routine.
If it equals $2200 per month, then it's probably not so good.
If each of the letters in the equation represents either a net gain or net loss to the “solution” of the equation, then it’s just a matter of replacing the disempowering “integers” with empowering ones.
To give you a specific example, let’s say that every day you wake up at 6 AM, have your coffee and then go immediately to the gym for a 45 minute workout.
Assuming that your training regimen is sufficient, over time you will increase your physical strength and endurance in a somewhat linear fashion.
At the very least, you’ll achieve a high level of fitness and maintain it.
If we encapsulate this set of behaviors into a single variable (x), then every time we execute (x) we are greasing the (x) groove.
If we wanted to get even more granular, then we could break (x) into sub-variables like x1, x2, x3 etc.
Even though this would require additional thought (ew!) on our part, if we were able to measure the effect these sub-variables had, we could tighten up our (x) so that we’re greasing the correct groove.
We could, in effect, grease the grooves of the sub-variables to strengthen the groove of the main variable.
What grooves are [not] worth greasing?
Switching to a more sales-based example, let’s say that you have a face to face sales job that requires you to maintain a high level of physical energy throughout the day.
Here are the grooves we have the option of greasing:
- Saying hi to customers in a cheerful manner
- Smiling at customers
- Smiling at yourself in the mirror for a minute to warm up your face
- Doing affirmations to improve your mood
- Writing down your goals every day to keep you motivated
- Making cheerful small talk with neighboring businesses and coworkers to stay positive
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day to stay rested and maintain a high energy level
If we consider each of these activities “grooves,” then we can determine whether or not they are worth greasing.
If they ARE worth greasing, then our success as salespeople is simply dependent on how efficiently we grease them throughout the day.
These specific examples are worth greasing, in my opinion. But there are many that are not.
Here are a few examples of things you may find yourself doing that are probably worth cutting out altogether.
- Browsing social media when you’re supposed to be making sales
- Taking excessive breaks when your coworkers are selling and you aren’t
- Talking to coworkers excessively to avoid selling
- Eating junk food casually throughout the day when you’re bored
- Staying up late at night and getting poor sleep
- Abusing caffeine unnecessarily
- Smoking cigarettes
- Doing hard drugs (or even soft ones like marijuana)
- Complaining about some aspect of work
When we look at it on paper, it seems obvious that some of these behaviors are desirable and some aren’t. So why is it that some people choose to grease disempowering grooves instead of the empowering ones?
- They are not aware or don’t believe in the concept that repeated action solidifies habits
- They are not aware that they’re doing these bad behaviors
- They ARE aware they’re doing them, but feel helpless to stop
The first group of people is truly unfortunate. Being exposed to this obscure concept is purely based on random chance.
Being exposed to these concepts – or any concept – really just comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
Sucks for them, they weren’t.
The second group is also pitiable, but for a different reason.
This is the group that thinks it’s “normal” to be a bad worker, an emotional black hole, and negatively affect those around them.
Without going too deep, today’s culture is rife with this Loser Mentality.
- “haha I’m so broke!”
- “omg I only got 3 hours sleep last night”
- “jeez I can’t believe I gained 15 lbs this month”
- “I’m so fat, I hate myself”
- “this job sucks”
Thoughts > beliefs > actions > lifestyle.
Everything begins with your thoughts. Fortunately, we can control our thoughts.
You can choose to think about anything you want, any time you want.
These people just choose to think about dismpowering things and hamstring themselves. They’ll never get what they want.
Choose which grooves to grease with a specific plan of action
The THIRD group, the ones that are aware of what they’re doing but feel helpless to stop, they are the closest group to fixing their problem.
They’re just missing one thing: a plan.
I mentioned this in a YouTube video I posted recently about standing up for yourself.
The reason most people don’t stand up for themselves when they get that uncomfortable feeling of being socially violated is because they fear the confrontation.
They think to themselves, What that person did was wrong and it made me feel bad. But if I call attention to it, then that could lead to a confrontation. And that might make me feel even worse. So I’ll just keep my mouth shut and choose this less-bad feeling.
While this is technically a logical train of thought, it’s unfortunately WRONG.
Not standing up for yourself will always make you feel worse than speaking your truth.
After the fact, when you are out of the uncomfortable situation, you might imagine yourself speaking up for yourself and pointing out the violation.
You might even resolve to never let it happen again. You might even imagine yourself saying what you’re thinking next time it happens.
And that’s great, but you’re still one step short.
Imagining what you would do in a given situation isn’t enough. You need to make a plan.
"When (x) happens, I will (y)."
You need to think that exact thought in your mind, phrased as such.
- “When my mom calls me fat, I will tell her that I don’t like when she does that and it’s hurtful.”
- “When my boss yells at me, I will tell him that it’s not appropriate for him to talk to me like that.”
- “When a customer is rude to me and I feel like I’m going to lose my temper, I’m going to smile and tell them to have a nice day.”
You need to have a specific plan in place. Because when the uncomfortable situation happens and our circuitry begins to fry, we become unable to think clearly.
If we don’t have a plan in place, our minds are going to take the path of least resistance. And we don’t want that.
We want to consciously choose an action that will give us the outcome we want.
Greasing the groove to improve your sales
Despite the fact that I have been in sales for nearly a decade, I always found it hard to upsell customers.
I had mastered nearly every other aspect of the sales process.
I could prospect, pitch, overcome objections and close. But for some reason, upselling made me feel uncomfortable.
In the kiosk business, there is a Power Phrase in Hebrew that veterans will say to beginner salespeople to encourage them to upsell:
You already have their money. What do you have to lose?
(This is assuming that you are upselling after the initial purchase is made.)
While I’d heard this Power Phrase for years and I knew it made logical sense, I still found it hard to upsell.
I would do everything needed to make the sale, but then once I handed the customer their bag of stuff, I felt like I needed to get rid of them immediately.
I would think to myself, YES! I got them! Now I need to get them out of here before they change their mind. Every minute I waste with them is one that I could spend stopping another customer!
These thoughts would be accompanied with a growing feeling of discomfort until they were gone.
This changed a few years ago when I had a manager who was incredible at upselling.
He noticed my little problem, and one day he took me aside and told me,
“Next time you have a customer who buys something, try to upsell them at the register. You’ve already got their money – you don’t have anything to lose. Just try.”
Like the 3rd group of people I mentioned earlier, I was fully aware of my problem but felt helpless to do anything about it.
However, when my manager told me this, I had to rise to the occasion. If I didn’t, I felt like my manhood would come into question.
And that was a greater dishonor than not upselling the customer.
Long story short, next time I was in a situation where I made a sale, I swiped the customer’s card and made the attempt to sell them something else.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But the point is that over time, I integrated this habit into my workflow.
The difference is that I made a conscious decision to grease the upselling groove by planning ahead of time what I would do when I was thrust into the uncomfortable moment and my circuitry began to fry.
Over time, the groove became so greased that I did it unconsciously.
But had I never addressed my sticking point and made a plan of “if (x) happens then I’ll do (y),” then I never would have overcome it and reaped the benefits.
- Identify your sticking point by identifying discomfort
- Make a plan (if (x) then (y))
- Execute the plan
- Repeat until you no longer feel discomfort