There is a familiar saying that reminds us that “attitudes are contagious.” I then ask you if “yours is worth catching?”
Regardless of your industry, the product, or service you’re selling, it seems that making a living today is far from being a casual “walk in the park.” In fact, it often resembles a slow crawl through a minefield.
I’m afraid I can’t say or do much to soften your competitor’s blows, but I can remind you that in most instances you can fend most of them off before “bobbing and weaving” toward eventual victory. The secret is to stay on your feet and keep moving forward.
It is entirely up to you to see that your business is moving in the right direction. If you don’t make positive things happen, chances are nobody will. Failing to assume responsibility for what happens in your career, day, week, or next sales call is a mistake.
The final outcome of your sales career (and your future) is in your hands. That is the beautiful thing about sales: You’re driving the bus. Your future, for the most part, will be the result of your actions today. You set the pace. You plan your day. You make the calls. You take the credit. You take the hits. You resort to Plan “B” when necessary and you enjoy the accolades that come with success. As they say, using a sporting analogy, “The ball is in your court” and your attitude, coupled with your skill will be largely responsible for what you plan to do with it.
I’d like to share a story with you that made a huge impact on the way I run my life. I think the lesson will be pretty clear.
A few years back at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, an Italian skier by the name of Alberto Tomba (the reigning downhill skiing superstar at the time) was a lock to take the Gold Medal. His flamboyant style was to pull out all the stops and ski a thin line often resembling recklessness. Alberta Tomba skied like a man possessed. He was good and he knew it. So did the press. So did his many fans.
But Alberto Tomba didn’t make it to the medal stand in Nagano that day. In fact, he didn’t even make it down the mountain.
When asked by a TV commentator what had happened, the interview was short, sweet, and to the point with… no excuses. He wasn’t quick to blame it on the ice, the snow, the condition of the slope, the wind, the starter, his skis or his breakfast selection. He simply replied, “What happened? I fell.” End of interview.
Alberto Tomba didn’t win the Gold Medal that day in Nagano, but I remember his reply and nothing about the guy who won the first-place hardware. He realized there are no guarantees in downhill skiing. He understood the many variables standing between him and the finish line. Most of these “obstacles” were out of his control. He took the hit, and his life continued to unfold. And so it is in the selling profession.
When you do manage to stay on your feet and make it all the way down the mountain the differential between the winning and not winning is often less than a blink of an eye. It is the accumulation of “little things” that can shave off milliseconds and are often enough to earn a gold medal. And so it is in the selling profession.
Tomba in all probability was disappointed, to say the least, but he certainly did not share it with the world that day. He was a true professional and after dusting himself off could probably be found back in the gym, back on the boards, and studying the terrain of his next challenging mountain.
This story reminds me of another soundbite from a man named Barry Diller a few years back. At the time he was the Chairman of The Home Shopping Network and he was trying to buy Paramount for $10 Billion. Having lost the bid after a full year of negotiations he was asked, “Barry, you just lost a $10 billion dollar deal. How do you feel?” Mr. Diller looked straight into the camera and said, “How do I feel? They won. We lost. Who’s next?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sales can be a rough and tumble profession. Your attitude is what will get you to the top and, hopefully, keep you there. If you are not as successful as you originally planned, my bet is that you need to take a little more responsibility on how you choose to deal with setbacks and what you are planning to do next.
Mike Marchev is a down-to-earth motivating sales trainer, author and business coach who specializes in the travel industry. Mike’s column is made possible by AmaWaterways.