What the heck do selling and running have in common? On the surface most people would say nothing! Believe it or not there are many more similarities that you might think.
I have been in sales or sales management for my entire professional career but I have been running since I was a kid. I guarantee that I have run more miles than I have made sales calls, but until recently I really haven’t given much thought about what the two have in common. Tonight while running I started thinking about how training for a race is very similar to success in sales. Now, understand that I am currently in my 8th week of a 20 week training schedule and although I love running, sometimes it can really challenge you mentally and emotionally. Selling is really no different.
When training for a race there are many different types of training schedules. Some require you to run certain distances on a given day while others have you run for a specific amount of time. The various plans are goal based and are designed to help you ultimately cross the finish line. I personally prefer the time method as some days you feel better and run faster, and other days it’s a slog. As long as you put in the time you will be successful. Whatever the preferred method, it requires a commitment, discipline, and a plan for success.
Selling is very much the same. Most sales people set goals for themselves and to be successful you have to have a plan. There are a variety of different types of selling styles and methodologies. Some are customer-focused while some are question and problem based. Each system usually works if it is accompanied by commitment and discipline. Just like a time-based training schedule, if you put the time into it, you should be successful.
Some days when you’re struggling while running and you feel like stopping. Somehow you have to convince yourself to keep going. In sales it’s the same thing. You will hear NO many more times than YES. That’s when you need to be mentally tough and keep going. Some days I even push myself to do more than the required time. I’ll run 5 or 10 minutes more just because. Do the same in your sales plan, do more than you have to and make a commitment to going that extra mile for your clients. When you feel like calling it a day, make one more call.
When running, sometimes I have to modify my schedule or change things up. If I’m traveling or have another commitment I might have to change the times for a given day. But at the end of the week I still complete the time required. Again, selling is no different. You may have scheduled to do phone calls or write proposals or whatever and something else comes up. Maybe you’re just a little off your game. Change it up. If you are dedicated you can easily modify your schedule and still get things accomplished.
When training, in order to perform at your best, you have to supplement your training by adding variations as well as strength training and proper nutrition. I am constantly doing research on various training techniques and ideas. I also do interval training, lift weights and I try to eat right.
In sales you need to do the same types of things. You don’t just make sales calls. You also do other activities to enhance your performance. Research your clients and their companies, get referrals, and do things like attend seminars, read books on selling, and use social media.
Just like running isn’t for everybody, neither is sales. Whether it’s running or selling, you have to push yourself to excel. Be mentally tough and you will be rewarded for your efforts. If you set your goal, plan for success, and follow the schedule you will cross that finish line. You may not win the race, but if you commit to doing your personal best you will be a winner!