Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Boston Marathon, the 119th for the city and the sixth that I’ve spectated. While I’m sure there’s no feeling quite like crossing the finish line on Boylston Street after months of training (especially in the winter we’ve experienced here in Boston), being in the crowd along the race course can elicit similar feelings of joy and excitement. Every year I’m amazed at how incredible the whole day is, and how inspiring it can be to see loved ones- or really anyone- work hard to cross that finish line.
This year, like every previous one, I thought about how that inspiration can make its way into our personal and professional lives in the days and months after Marathon Monday. After all, marathon training is no easy feat and it takes most a good portion of the year to prepare. While thinking of ways I can bring the attitudes of strength, tenacity and optimism that are so present on Marathon Monday into my professional life, I thought of a few ways sales reps can do the same. Here are some lessons sales reps should take away from Marathon Monday:
Perseverance is a necessity.
I asked my friend how she kept going after her quad and calf cramped about halfway through the race yesterday. Her response: “I just pushed through it, I knew I had to if I wanted to get where I wanted to be.” She said that slowing it down for a couple strides helped too. Sales reps can take this same approach when they hit a wall. When it seems like no one is answering your calls or emails, take a step back and think about your process. Are you going through the motions of dialing or pressing send without thinking about how you’re benefitting your prospect? Slow it down, think about your process, and decide whether you’re being as effective as possible.
- Training is ongoing.
Boston locals who ran in freezing rain and wind gusts yesterday will just tell you it was a fitting end to a nightmare of a training season, complete with the most snow Boston has ever seen. But just because it snowed didn’t mean they could skip their workouts or runs. Some opted for the treadmill while others braved the elements, but the consensus was “no days off.” Sales reps should do the same when it comes to selling. Whether this means taking the time to learn new selling techniques or approaches, or just picking the brain of a sales professional you know, sales training is an ongoing process and reps should never settle for just hitting their numbers.
Competition is key, but so is camaraderie.
Whether you’re racing against others competitively or just proving to yourself that you can finish a 26.2 mile run, there is motivation to compete and succeed. While competition is necessary for success, so is camaraderie. When you’re being corralled right before the race, sardine-packed with thousands of others with the same goal, you know that you’re not opponents but teammates. The same goes for salespeople: you’re not in it alone. Yes, you’re trying to reach your individual quotas, but you should have a team behind you ready to support you if you have those down days, weeks, or quarters.
Sales is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to prepare and plan out your pipeline and potential opportunities months in advance, and understand that some may not work out. You can’t waste all of your energy and resources at the beginning, and must understand that it may take some sacrifices to get where you want to be. Not getting burnt out, keeping your competitive edge sharpened, and leaning on your team for help when you need it will be the keys to success.