Sales is a Marathon, not a Sprint.
When I was working at Ricoh selling copiers, I hit quota 42 months in row.
I was asked to share how I did this at company trainings, and one thing I shared was this:
“Sales is a marathon, not a sprint.”
So what exactly does this mean?
On September 26th, I will be racing in my first half-marathon, and just completed my first week of an intense 12 week training program to get ready.
There are many things training for a long distance run and achieving consistent sales results have in common.
Here are my top 5:
1. Both require a clear goal and vision which is driving you forward every day.
“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere” -Henry Kissinger
2. Both require a specific action plan
When training for a half-marathon, I must run 4/days week for 12 weeks and follow a regimented training schedule.
When I hit quota 42 consecutive months, I also followed a clear plan which I detail in #3.
3. The action plan must be unique to you based on your own goals and targets
For the half-marathon, my goal is to run an average of 10 minutes per mile. This goal guides my specific training schedule which is unique to me.
In sales, I also had a specific plan tailored to my own unique sales targets.
The plan was simple: Do 2 intro meetings and set 2 meetings every day.
Here’s the math:
Doing 10 intro meetings/week led to creating 4 new opportunities/week based on my 40% intro meeting to opportunity conversion.
Based on my 25% close ratio at the time, I would consistently close 4 deals/month out of the 16 I created.
My quota was 30k/month, and my average deal size was 10k, so I consistently closed at least 40k/month and always hit my quarterly bonus, which accelerated based on hitting quota every month that quarter.
While admittedly this was a more transactional sale, selling software also requires you to know your numbers so you can target the appropriate pipeline growth based on your own ratios.
4. Performance and skills improve with repetition and practice
Running consistently makes you faster and improves endurance.
Meeting consistently with customers sharpens your selling skills, including communication, objection handling, discovery, presenting, negotiating, and closing.
My first year in sales I closed just 25% of deals.
My second year I increased it to 33%.
My third year was over 50%
My deals also got bigger as my skills improved.
I stuck to my plan of doing 2 and setting 2 every day, but instead of just selling 480k/year, I closed over 1M and eventually broke 2m as my closing ratio improved and my deals got larger.
5. Both require immense self-discipline to excute your plan on a daily basis.
Success in all areas of life requires doing things you don’t feel like doing.
Consistently showing up EVERY DAY is what wins the sales game, not speed or power.
Do the right things every day, and the desired outcomes will follow.