Anyone that knows me well also knows that I am an avid reader. I get goose bumps walking into Barnes and Noble knowing that hundreds of books are waiting for me to read. This weekend was no different. Scanning through the shelves, I picked up a book that I’d never heard of, ‘Running on Faith,’ by Jason Lester with Tim Vendehey. It's an inspiring book about an individual, Jason Lester, who faced enormous physical adversity early in life. Jason was hit by a careless driver when he was 12 years old. The accident produced 18 broken ribs, two broken legs, a broken left arm and a collapsed lung. His right arm was permanently paralyzed eliminating his dream of playing professional baseball. Here’s the truly amazing part of his story. Jason went on to compete in several Ironman races and ultimately the ultra elite race, the Ultraman. The Ultraman is a three day race covering 320 miles and only 40 people compete in this invitation only race. So what does Jason’s story have to do with sales and sales results? Let’s face it; salespeople run into adversity everyday in the sales profession. A salesperson may have weeks where he doesn’t close anything. Salespeople have times where they flat out got outsold by a competitor. Or, the salesperson's company is having trouble delivering what she sold. The bottom line is that the salesperson who can handle adversity consistently outsells the salesperson that can't overcome adversity. Just like athletics, sales is a mental game first and a sales skill game second. Here are some lessons from Jason’s book:
- Be consistent. Never miss practice. No excuses and never stop for anything. This message was imparted to Jason by his father, who died 7 months after he finally left the hospital. (Yes, the adversity continued.) Hmmm….sounds like those words of wisdom also apply to the sales profession. Top salespeople are consistent about prospecting and serving clients. They don’t miss practice or the opportunity to be coached. And they never give into the usual excuses that their less successful peers whine about. I.e. Bad territory, bad prospects or bad economy.
- Surround yourself with people who have your back. Jason discusses his young childhood friends who stood by him after the accident and did not allow him to go into depression or self pity. Instead of babying him, they’d say, “let’s go, gimp. Come on.” Do you have people who are lifting you up when the chips are down. Do you have colleagues that challenge you to reach your full potential versus what’s easy? Jim Rohn said it best. “You are the average of the five people you hang with the most.” Start hanging with the best.
- Every loss if followed by a new blessing. Jason is a very spiritual man and truly believes that if you experience a setback, it might be the very thing you need in order to move a new direction, learn a lesson or make a much needed change. In his words, you have to have faith. Most successful people have had their share of adversity. The difference is how they look at the adversity. Resilient people regard adversity as a gift because it is during tough times that important lessons are learned and character is formed.
So the next time you don’t feel like making another phone call, running another appointment or doing further pre-call planning on a prospect, think of Jason Lester. If he can run an Ultraman race with one arm, surely all of us can use our two good arms and execute the daily discipline of good selling behaviors and skills. Good Selling, Colleen Stanley Chief Selling Officer