On Sunday I was fortunate enough to experience and finish the Lincoln half-marathon – it was my first. I set out to run the race with one specific motivating factor in mind, but upon finishing the race I realized that I have learned so much more about myself as a person, father, husband, family member, friend, colleague, and believe it or not, as a sales person. For the sake of this blog, and not boring you with a litany of my personal stories, let’s focus on the sales person component and look at the top 5 items I learned from completing a half-marathon that can be helpful to the sales and sales management world.
- Complexity can be a great thing – true potential and growth only comes from putting yourself in situations where you are truly challenged and do not know what the output is going to be. Can it lead to failure? Sure, but even if you fail, you will still learn more from trying and failing than sticking with the status quo. Make sure to build a relationship with your reps that allows you the opportunity to push them outside of their comfort zones at work. To learn more about complexity make sure to check out this previous EcSell Institute blog that is outstanding.
- Every single step has significance – In sales we like to put an emphasis on the different components of the process: Closing, negotiation, follow-up, the needs analysis, etc. The reality is that all of the steps in the process are very important, but you must always continue to progress forward, develop, and learn along the way. There are going to be moments of pain throughout the process, but if you can continually remind yourself that this pain is only temporary soon it will be miles behind you.
- Praising grit is important – I received a lot of text messages and phone calls to congratulate me on finishing the race, but it was my wife’s compliment about all of the hard work that went into achieving the goal that meant the most to me. Make sure you praise the effort that went into achieving the sales goal as opposed to just recognizing the achievement.
- Don’t let the end number paralyze you – The thought of running 13.1 miles in a row can be very overwhelming. If I would have begun this process without a very strategic plan I would have failed and failed miserably. Make sure your sales people have a clear understanding of how they are going to hit their goal. Break it down into very reasonable activities and processes that are not overwhelming. Make sure to do this for yourself as well; as a sales manager what are the activities and processes that you need to have in place to achieve your number?
- Focus on the mental – It was very obvious in observing the marathon participants that competing in a marathon has little to do with physical attributes and everything to do with mental will. Obviously I am not talking about the 100 or so people who could actually win the race, but rather the rest of the pack. Some of the runners were very young, some very old, some with shoes, some without, some very slim, some not so slim, heck even one-guy finished the race wearing a darth vader costume. The point is that as sales people and as sales leaders you need to spend as much time working on mental attributes in addition to the physical attributes that will make success sustainable. Do not fall into the trap of simply practicing and executing the physical activities.
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