Yesterday, while out getting coffee, I watched a Chocolate Labrador Retriever chase his morning pick-me–up: a well-chewed tennis ball. It was cold, gray, raw and pouring rain. His ball-throwing partner was bundled up in a winter hat and heavy raincoat. The dog, however, was in heaven! He bounded across the grass, tongue fully extended, sliding and falling when be reached the florescent green ball only to wait eagerly for the next opportunity for a good ball chase.
I was thinking about the parallel between this and a day in the life of a salesperson. Metaphorically speaking, the sky can turn gray and raw at any moment. Spontaneous rain showers and thunderstorms pop up when least expected and your prospects frequently stop playing catch with you. What’s a salesperson to do?
Dogs just don’t give up when they are in full ball-chasing mode. If you throw a ball deep into the woods, they will happily run there and come back for more. If you throw a curve ball, they will wait for the next one. If you stop playing catch, they bark and dance until you give in.
Salespeople, on the other hand, get emotionally involved when it rains, feel rejected when the prospect says something unexpected, get frustration when a prospect throws a curve ball and sometimes walk away when the going gets tough.
What’s the difference between the Chocolate Lab and a salesperson? Dogs are hard-wired for play and ball-chasing. They are singularly-focused and live completely in the moment. When there is a ball to chase, it’s all they think about. Most importantly, they are really good at having fun regardless of the circumstances. In contrast, salespeople have trouble living in the moment, get distracted, lose sight of the goal and make selling way too serious, removing much of the playfulness.
Professional salespeople need to be smart, savvy, brave, goal-focused, resilient, empirical and process-orientated. Prospects stretch the truth, hold back crucial information, have trouble trusting salespeople and worry about making a bad buying decision. What often gets missed is the playfulness and singular focus regardless of whether it’s pouring rain at the moment. Salespeople need to bring fun and playfulness to the sales process. They also need to weather the wind, rain and bad weather with a smile on their face.
My challenge to you is to consciously remember the Chocolate Lab doing what he loves most regardless of the environmental conditions.