Today marks the 118th running of the Boston Marathon here in Boston, one of the longest-running sporting events in the world. After last year’s tragic terrorist attack at the finish line, the city and the marathon’s runners are more emboldened and determined to represent what the event and the city are all about. This is truly an important day in our city.
This is also a good time to remind sales professionals that sales has a lot in common with running a marathon. Those who treat sales like a sprint will fizzle out quickly, just as those who run the marathon as a short-distance race.
Here are 4 ways sales is just like a marathon, not a sprint.
Patience is key
Sure, occasionally you’ll get a ‘bluebird’ opportunity – one that falls out of the sky and is ready to buy immediately, with a very short sales cycle – but you have to be realistic and realize that these are very rare. Instead, there is often a great deal of nurturing and coaxing along of the prospect that a sales rep has to do.
Research has shown that when sales owns part of the lead nurturing process – instead of just passing the buck to marketing – conversion rates are substantially higher. Your sales reps should adopt such a patient mindset and work to guide their prospects down the sales funnel, one step at a time, toward the finish line.
There is a long training process
You don’t become ready to run a marathon overnight; no, there are lots of early mornings, progressively increasing your distance each time until you are able to run 26 miles. You have to work to increase your endurance, your physical capacity, your running skill.
Just like in sales. Contrary to popular belief, the best sales reps are not born – they are made, through dint of effort and the right sales coaching program customized to them.
Never be satisfied with your goals
Ask any marathon runner if they are satisfied with their personal best times and you’ll likely get a reluctant shrug. Marathon runners are serious competitors, always looking to train harder and improve on their time for the next marathon.
Just like in sales. Did your reps have a record-breaking quarter, smashing their sales quota? Well, chances are next quarter’s quota is likely to be higher. Sales reps not only know this, but welcome these new challenges with a steely determination. It’s all about constantly pushing yourself.
You are not alone
Marathon running – just like sales – can seem like a largely independent endeavor. You’re out there on the road by yourself, just like you’re on the phone with nobody else but your prospect. However, the secret about both marathon and sales is that you’re never alone.
Marathon runners depend greatly on their support teams. During the months of arduous training leading up to race day, family members and friends lend their support in the form of words of encouragement, bowls of pasta for carbo-loading or even as training partners. Sales reps also benefit greatly from having a team around them. They need the mentorship of their sales coach, the encouragement of their fellow sales reps and the motivation of the whole team working towards one goal.
Sales reps might not know it, but watching the Boston Marathon can provide lots of reminders for how they are supposed to approach their job. We all have a great deal to learn from these marathon runners when it comes to discipline, perseverance, motivation and strength.