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Sails and Sales

David Bowman
David Bowman
BY: David Bowman ON February 20, 2012

sails and salesSailing is by no means easy.  There are a lot of factors to manage and understand.  Still, on the perfect day, with the breeze at your back, the sun in the sky, and the current flowing in your direction, almost anyone can catch the wind and glide swiftly across the water.  If you have perfect conditions, there’s no need to think, no need to try, you just sail.  The perfect day can give you the impression that sailing is easy.  And it is… until it isn’t.  That is where skill, knowledge, and persistence come into play.

Sailing is much like Selling.  When the market is favorable, competition is limited, and you are the only game in town, sales can simply happen.  In perfect conditions, it is easy to assume that sales is simple – to believe that by just showing you can keep the pipeline full and the work flowing in.  What makes for great sales organizations is the ability to constantly monitor the environment and respond properly – making adjustments, asking questions, and doing the hard work needed to move forward.

Becoming an expert takes practice, patience, and resiliency.  A skilled sailor constantly monitors the changing environment and knows how to respond properly.  A stiff headwind, rough seas, or a challenging current present challenges, but these challenges are not insurmountable to an expert.  Similarly, a sales professional does not overcome objections by arguing with a prospect to make the sale, nor do they panic and return to shore.  Rather, one must use that headwind to an advantage by slightly changing direction, altering course, and moving a little less linearly towards the desired destination.  In the end persistence, patience, and skill will move you forward.

On a perfect day, both sails and sales look very easy to manage.  What is important to remember is that most of the 365 days of the year are far from perfect, and standing on the shore waiting for conditions to be just right will get you nowhere.  Professionals learn by doing – everyday.

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