Well, friends, I did it again.
Back in 2015, shortly after I moved to Connecticut from Chicago, I trained for and ran my first half marathon at the age of 45. Then the next year I ran another. Earlier this year, I decided that the months leading up to those races were great for me physically and mentally; I was in the best shape of my life and felt healthier than I had even back in my twenties. I wanted to feel that way again, so I decided to rope two of my best girlfriends into running the Fairfield Half with me earlier in June.
As I like to do, I decided to reflect on lessons I learned and see if I couldn’t parlay that into some pearls of wisdom for you, especially as it relates to sales. Here goes!
1. Competition is great, but really, YOU are the only one you are competing with.
The two women I trained with and ran with are 17 and 12 years younger than me. ON long training runs, I always lagged. I sometimes got angry. I sometimes got defensive. I sometimes told myself that they were younger, of COURSE, I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with them. That’s all garbage, my friends. There were women older than all of us at that race that ran faster than all of us. My performance on race day was exactly in line with the kind of preparations I had done. The same thing goes for your sales practice. You can compete with colleagues and competitors, but what matters is how YOU show up. The research you do. The messaging YOU craft, the relationships YOU foster. And the numbers you put up on the board every month are the result of your strategy, your planning, and your execution. No one else.
2. There is no such thing as over-preparation.
There training roughly 3 to 4 each week in the 8 weeks leading up to race day. Truly, had I expected better finishing time, I should have used more time, cross-trained, and been more focused on beating my 2016 time if that was what I really wanted. Incidentally, I didn’t. The course this year was far hillier than the one in Hartford in 2016, and my time was just shy of 2 minutes slower than my previous performance. Likewise, if you have your sights set on crushing a previous best month or landing a big fish life-changing account in the next 12 months, well, you have 7 days a week to work that plan. True, you can’t usually make sales calls on weekends, but you could spend a few moments on social media, or on research, or on writing a blog or sharing an interesting video you found that could be of interest to your followers. And that work WILL be noticed.
3. Never stop learning.
For my next half this September, I plan to consult with the experts at my local running shoe store to plan to not only increase my speed but improve my leg strength as well. For you, there is more valuable content out there to help you educate yourself on myriad topics than you will EVER be able to consume. There are great books coming out every day to help you sharpen your skills on sales, networking, and even how you think and feel about what you do
4. The proper gear is essential.
Good running shoes cost big bucks and you must change them out every 250 miles. There are special running socks that help protect your feet from blisters. There is an entire industry dedicated to race nutrition. Knowing about what is out there to help you succeed is something worth the investment of your time and curiosity. In sales, there are CRMs, smartphones, and social media platforms to help you reach people and stay connected.
5. Have a plan and stick to it.
Wing it at your peril. My friends and I chose a training program from several that were available to us after a simple google search. We knew how many miles we needed to do for our long runs each week so that we would be ready for race day. Your sales strategy is no different. Know how many prospects you need to add to the pipeline each week, sure. But as my friend Bill always tells me, by way of Stephen Covey, you must begin with the END in mind. What is your sales number going to look like on December 31st, 2019? How many new accounts do you need? How much growth from your existing business? What new products or services are you introducing and talking about. Will you call? Email? Visit? How often? Break those larger benchmarks down into Daily goal, so that at the end of each day, week and month you can look at what you’ve done with the confidence to know that your hard work will get you there.
Sales is a marathon, not a sprint. Get ready. Get stronger. Start today.
Training for my next half starts Monday.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcasts From The Printerverse: Achieving Success In Print and Sales with Kelly Mallozzi / Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How