I recently met an Olympic skier. He set the Canadian record for skiing in 1992. His feat was speeding down a mountain at 135 M.P.H. He went from amateur skier to Olympic skier in 5 years. If I make it sound easy, it wasn’t. His was the story of an ordinary skier who became an extraordinary one. The story of his training to replicate competitive skiing conditions and improve performance was incredible, amusing and harrowing. Sound like selling?
Focus on what you have, not what you lack. How many times do we think, “If only I had a bigger budget” or “If only my competition would do something else?” There is a difference between using the momentum of setting big goals and wasting time wishing for a reality change. Why not face reality and work with what you DO have?
This skier needed to practice in the conditions he would face going down a mountain at speeds in excess of 100 M.P.H. The wind tunnel at Boeing would have been perfect. At $12,000 an hour it was out of his budget. His solution is not for the faint of heart. He designed a system much like a luggage rack for the top of his friend’s car. The luggage he had in mind was himself – a fearless 25-year-old Canadian skier. The good news was the system worked and he had an understanding friend with a very fast car.
Whatever it takes. Competition will always be with us. Budgets will always be restrictive. Are you ready to be creative and do whatever it takes to beat your competition? When you get the call after hours from a customer with a problem, do you take it? You could let it go until the morning. If a customer has a special request, do you check to make sure it is handled correctly? You could hope the system takes care of it and forget about it. Ever make a recommendation that you’re not 100% sure of? You could hope it would work. The easy out will cost you in the long run.
I’ve known some very successful business OWNERS who have been unloading product for desperate customers at 2 AM. They’ve also cleaned warehouses, made deliveries and whatever else they needed to do. They could have sent a member of their staff to do the job. They didn’t. They did everything their competition wouldn’t do. As a result, their businesses are the most successful in the marketplace. Their customers remember their extra efforts and they reward them with continued business.
Selling is not for the faint of heart. You may find yourself up to your elbows in grease one day or helping tear down an engine in 20-degree weather the next. You may have to search for a missing transport of product for a frantic customer and then deal with a product failure. If you want to continue to keep your business and get new business, you’ve got to be ready to do what your competition will not do. Selling will always have its ups and downs; just like skiing. The good news is you probably won’t have to get strapped to the top of a speeding vehicle.
Copyright 1999. Maura Schreier-Fleming