Over the weekend, I played golf for the first time in 3 years. I also played on a knee that was not yet 100% after surgery. OK, I have all of my excuses laid out now. Now I can tell the rest of the story……
You might ask why I played on a knee not quite 100%. Well, you don’t know my friend Tom, who I will be vacationing with in a couple of weeks who is insisting that we play golf and that “no strokes will be given for bad knees.” Tough guy, right? Tom really doesn’t mean what he is saying, at least I hope not. I am actually looking forward to playing golf in MI for the first time.
So what does my golf game have to do with leadership and selling? Over the weekend, I hit the ball really well and would have scored really well if you take out 2 holes that were a double and triple bogey each. Other than that, I played and scored really well. How did I do this given the circumstances? I focused on the fundamentals that I learned over the years from golf professionals. I had an acute awareness of those fundamentals each time I was over the ball. And it worked.
As managers, how often do we visit the fundamentals with our teams? Do we take the time to review our selling process and ensure that our team can properly execute this process? As sales reps, how often do we go back to the fundamentals that we learned when we got into sales? More importantly for both, how much time are you spending in keeping your fundamentals current? Many of the fundamentals that you learned when starting out still apply. Our “failure”, if you will allow me to use this word, is in that we don’t improve our fundamentals over time as things (and expectations) change. This responsibility lies first with sales reps, because, after all, it is your income at stake. But it also lies with management who has the obligation to keep developing its sales teams each year.
We have all heard first responders or combat veterans talk about harrowing experiences that they have survived. To a person, we hear them say “…my training took over”. They have practiced the fundamentals so often that they didn’t have to think when they were in the heat of the moment. They also practice various scenarios that could take place for the same reasons. Now, I am not equating sales with the work that first responders do. But I am equating the need to prepare in sales as if we were first responders. Drill on the fundamentals, improve our skills at every chance, and practice possible scenarios that could/will occur.
Becoming excellent at the fundamentals is a crucial step in developing into the supplier that your customer wants you to become. Remember what it was like when you first got into sales and followed the process suggested to you by veterans or through formal training? Remember thew feeling of excitement when you landed the first deal because you followed that process? You can feel it again if you practice excellence at every opportunity.
First responders will tell you that they never take short cuts. Their life depends upon it. Yours is not a life and death situation. But it is serious. You have people depending on you to be great at what you do. They look up to you and count on you to provide for them. Don’t short change your training and your practice. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Remember that feeling from “back in the day”. You can replicate it tomorrow…..with practice on the new fundamentals.