The focused seller: What will make your boat go faster?

Generally speaking, the sales professional has two points in the year to dread: August when it seems that every single decision maker is on holiday, and of course, ‘silly season’ when Christmas parties and four-hour lunch breaks make closing deals and getting in front of prospects harder than ever.

And, as we approach mid-November (does it get earlier every year?) the festive period is almost upon us again.

“We’ll make a decision in the new year”, or “sorry he’s away now until January”.

These are fairly standard responses from 10th December onwards when trying to get hold of that invaluable decision maker to get a ‘yes’ and hit target before the end of the month. So, if the month of December is sliced in half by drinking and four-hour lunch breaks, how can you keep your sales targets on track and maximise the time that you do have between now and official silly season?

It’s quite simple: focus.

I’ve just read a book called Will it make the boat go faster by Olympic gold medal winner Ben Hunt-Davis, and from a sales training and strategy point of you it’s priceless. The book is about the British rowing coxed eights winning gold at the Sydney Olympics back in 2000.

Knowing that they had to the best they possibly could by the time that gun went off in the Sydney Games the team chose to channel their energy by answering one question and one question only. Yes, you guessed it: Will it make the boat go faster? What a decision, and what a payoff.

This really got me thinking about the importance of focus and maximising opportunity effectively.

What asking this question did was create an aligned mind-set for each of the athletes. By having one simple rule by which to live their lives for that relatively short period of time there was no doubt which direction they were all heading.

By directing all their energy and focus to this one question the team knew they would be using their time as effectively as they possibly could. And, in such a competitive environment with the world’s greatest athletes competing for one spot, that steely-eyed and absolute focus was what separated them from the rest.

They lived by one rule: If it doesn’t make the boat go faster, don’t do it.

To be able to switch into this mind-set is a powerful discipline! For sales professionals, right now is the time to adopt this attitude. With time running out between now and the start of the festive break it’s imperative that focus is maintained on achieving set targets. Time is limited so don’t waste a second!

So, what’s the one question that you could ask of yourself to ensure you keep that focus fixed on the prize?

One of the best sales people I have ever worked with had this ability to shut out the world when he had a deal to close. Everything he did was motivated by that sale, from the conversations he had at home with his family to the music he listened to on the way to work and the language he used when emailing the prospect.

The completion had no chance. They couldn’t prepare as well as him, understand the business as well as him or build a relationship with the prospect as well as him. And, when you consider that he devoted all his time and energy to the cause, you start to understand why. Do you think you could employ this kind of resolve in your selling strategy?

Will it help me close this deal? No? Then I’m not interested. It’s precisely the same mind-set that helped the British rowing team win gold in Sydney 2000.

Think about your targets between now and the end of the year. Where do you want to be when the out of office annual leave email responders come pouring in? Desperate to close more deals, or happy that your pipeline has delivered early, ahead of the break?

Start planning today. Design a strategy that centres around one question that will help you shut out the distractions and stay totally focused on reaching your goals in the time you have left in 2012.

If you want to hear more about the Natural Training approach to sales training, and find out how we develop strategies that lead to energised sales teams and higher levels of revenue and profit, get in touch with the team today.

Call us on 0207 043 1582 or email

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