The baseball season here in the US is set to kick off this weekend, with the Dodgers and the Giants - two renegades from the City of New York - squaring off in San Francisco. I think I speak for many when I say I welcome the start of our National Pastime, not only for the inherent joy of watching (and, in my case, playing) the game, but also they spirit of renewal it embodies, coming as it does on the heels of the end of winter.
When I was a youngster, I once asked my dad why major league ballplayers - all of whom have reached the pinnacle of their profession - had to bother with "training". After all, what else could they possible learn (I also couldn't figure out why most kids went to more school - something called "college" - after they were done with high school. Nor why they paid to do so!). His answer was that in any profession, those who rise to the top are the ones who continually train, who continually practice, who continually try to improve - and who are never satisfied with the status quo. They are always trying to maintain that edge, because they know that's the only way they're going to prevent someone else who is training, who is practicing - from sneaking up from behind and surpassing them.
Examples abound. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees is one of the most prolific players in the game of baseball today - last year's drop-off notwithstanding. What makes him such a perennial all-star is his strong work ethic: he's often the first player in the batting cage, and in the field at his position. Ted Williams - universally acknowledged as the greatest hitter in baseball - spent hours training and practicing. Think it was an accident that he hit over .400 one year - a feat no other major leaguer in modern time has accomplished? Bill Bradley, one of my heroes from the 1969 New York Knickerbockers basketball team, used to sneak into his high school team's gym on the team's day off - Saturdays - to work on his free throws, even though he was the team's best player. And Tiger Woods in golf - well, need I say more?
Shortly after New Year's Day, I decided to review every single one of the sixty-four issues of The Sales Solution I've penned over the last six years - plus a few others I've written for other publications. The reason? I wanted to make sure I was practicing what I preached - consistently. I wanted to be sure I was reinforcing the skills and behaviors I'd been telling others to develop and use. And I humbly submit that I found I'd stumbled on more than a couple (one example: I hadn't asked for referral in almost two months!). So I put together a list of the things I hadn't been doing, posted it where I could see it every day, and made sure to do them every day for the next two weeks.
Guess what? It worked!
Rogers said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over
if you just sit there." If you're a competitive person - and most of us in sales are - you don't like the thought of getting run over. Of getting surpassed. Of getting beaten in a deal. So do something to make sure none of those things happen. Dust off those old sales books, re-read the passages you highlighted, and commit to using them. Or invest in a new book, such as this one here in order to get some fresh ideas. Maybe enroll in a sales training class - if not to learn something new, then to reinforce what you already know, or to learn a different - and perhaps better - way of doing something.
Whatever you do - make sure you do something. Because in a tough economy such as we're in now, you can be sure your competitors are investing in themselves to get every edge they can. Shouldn't you be too?