Successful Selling Requires Endurance – Part 1

By • on November 7, 2012

Successful Selling Requires Endurance - Part 1

John Maxwell once said, “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” In sales, that is particularly true today in light of the ongoing financial crisis and recession.

As salespeople and leaders, we must endeavor to always move outside our comfort zones and to lead our sales teams in this fashion as well. Those comfort zones include focusing only on the close of a sale instead of on what is best for the customer and pushing the customer’s decision process along without integrity just to make another sale.

If you truly want to be successful in the sales race, then you must be willing to endure the good, the bad and the ugly cycles of selling. You must be a sales marathoner instead of a sprinter.

Margaret Okayo of Kenya was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 2003 New York City Marathon. She finished with a record time of two hours, twenty-two minutes and thirty-one seconds. Zoe Koplowitz finished in last place the following day with a time of just under twenty-nine hours and forty-five minutes. Like Okayo, Koplowitz is a spirited and fiercely competitive woman. Today, at sixty years of age, she’s completed 20 marathons, finishing every one of them in dead last. When you meet her, the reason is immediately obvious. Koplowitz has multiple sclerosis and walks the entire course with two canes, always in pain and never certain that she’ll finish. She says, “Either you have your dreams or you live your dreams. I’m not all that remarkable. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other until I get where I want to go.”

Sales is like that as well: you must have endurance to succeed. Endurance is not about getting to the finish line the fastest; it’s about finishing the race you start and accomplishing your objectives.

Sales isn’t making the fastest cold call or sending out the slickest direct-mail piece. And while speed is certainly important in today’s competitive climate, there’s no reason to run the race faster if you can’t finish the race at all.

Too many times we focus on getting to the finish line with potential customers before they’re ready to cross that line. We cajole them, pressure them and sometimes even use fear to push them along in the buying cycle before they really feel ready. This results in losses instead of wins because we don’t endure the stops and starts as well as we should.

The key to winning the sales race is to walk with customers when they want to walk and run when they want to run. Letting customers set the pace for the race is difficult and demands endurance, but in the long run you’ll have happier and more well-informed customers, which will lead to better word of mouth and more people ready to listen to what your team has to offer.

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