Are you failing because you fail to persist?Article added by Paul McCord on July 17, 2014
Paul McCord

Paul McCord

Midland, TX

Joined: March 03, 2014

Over the years, I’ve spoken to thousands of sellers who want to change their behavior, their careers and their lives. There are certain traits that seem to be consistent with a great many sellers I speak with: they tend to be disorganized; the majority question their ability to perform up to the standards they have set for themselves; almost to a person, they have no idea of how they intend to get where they want to go.

In addition, almost all lack one of the most crucial traits of a mega-producer: persistence.They try one technique or strategy a few times and then move to the next. They read a book, put into practice a little they have learned, and when that doesn't immediately produce results, they discard it and go on to something else. They never allow themselves to learn, practice and develop a new skill, because they aren't immediately getting the results they want or expect.

Selling is both an art and a science. Like anything else in life, it takes time to learn and develop new skills. If we don’t allow ourselves the time and practice required to develop the skills required to become successful, we’ll never become successful. The NFL, NBA, PGA and other sporting associations are chock full of individuals who have spent their entire lives on the practice field, preparing themselves for just a few minutes each week in the limelight.

Take an offensive lineman. A guard has basically one job: keep someone from the opposite team from having the opportunity to tackle the guy with the ball. That’s it. Just keep one man from tackling one other man. Pretty simple, right? If you have never played football or have never even seen it played and you walked onto a practice field for the first time, it probably wouldn’t take more than five minutes to understand the job of a guard. Heck, it wouldn’t take 30 seconds to understand the basic concept. Within an hour, you’d understand the most basic concepts of playing guard. You’d know the stance, you’d know that you don’t move until the ball is snapped, you’d know that the guy on the other side of the ball that you are supposed to block is really, really big, and you’d know that your job on each play is only going to take 3 to 8 seconds to perform.
During the same time period, you would have learned that there are different plays and that you do something a little different on each play. Let’s assume your team has 10 basic plays. Maybe it takes you another two hours to learn what it is you do on each of those 10 plays. So, you’re ready for the game, right? You’ve invested three hours. You know your job is to keep that guy from tackling the guy on your team with who has the ball. You know you have 10 plays and you know whom to block on each of those plays. What else is there to learn? You’re done. Go take a shower and show up a couple of hours early on game day.

Maybe someone forgot to tell you that the other guy is going to do everything he can to keep you from blocking him. Maybe they forgot to tell you that he won’t line up exactly where you want him on every play. That he isn’t just going to stand there waiting for you to come block him. That people don’t act the way you want them to act. Maybe they forgot to tell you that what sounds easy isn’t necessarily easy.

If the average lineman in the NFL is 26 years old, and the average player has been playing football since age seven or eight, then that guard has spent almost 20 years of his life learning to do one thing: keep one guy from tackling another guy. That’s it. And no matter how good he is, he still gets beat consistently. He still misses blocking assignments. He still has opposing players get around his blocks. He still makes mental and physical mistakes.

Salespeople are in the same position as the guard above. We have a simple job that requires a great deal of skill and practice. The guard has spent his life learning his job; he has spent thousands of hours learning the techniques and strategies that will make him successful. If all he needed was to learn the most basic concepts, he could pick up a book, read about what a guard does and then show up for the game. There wouldn’t be any need to practice. There wouldn’t be a need to hone his skills. After all, what could be simpler than to have someone tell you to just keep that guy away from that that other guy?

But that is exactly what tens of thousands of salespeople do each and every day. They read about a particular skill, go out and try it and it doesn’t work the way they want it to. They conclude it was all hype anyway and move on to something else. Selling is a practiced skill, meaning persistence in practice, patience in application and honing of abilities is necessary.

As we enter the second half of the year, rededicate yourself to your personal training. Understand that what you learn must be practiced and perfected. New skills take time to learn. If you are perpetually moving from one sales concept to the next without having learned and practiced each, you’ll never improve your ability to perform your job. Persistence is at the heart of perfecting any skill; sales skills are no exception.
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