Hill Climbing, Sales, and the One-Legged Man
Roughly 30 years ago, the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston received a message from a man named Billy Starr. Mr. Starr and nine of his pals decided to ride their bicycles across Massachusetts and raise money for cancer research.
The recipient of the letter recalls thinking, “That’s nice,” and then quickly forgetting about it.
A week later, a check arrived in the amount of $10,000.
From that starting point grew what is now the PanMass Challenge, an 111-mile bike ride fundraiser taken by thousands each year. After all of the donations have been added up, somewhere around $52 million will be added to Dana-Farber’s coffers this year.
I have participated in four PanMass Challenge rides myself.
Even though I had trained for many weeks, I felt unprepared for what was ahead on that first weekend in August. Out of that experience came a valuable life lesson, one I apply to my selling efforts constantly.
As you might imagine, hill climbing is inevitable. It’s hot and you are dog-tired but determined not to quit.
That is typically when you reach a long, slow incline.
On one particularly difficult hill, my riding partner Dan and I were very close to getting off the bike and walking. We were discussing the option as we rode by a cancer-survivor with one leg.
His prosthetic was strapped to the bike.
He wasn’t quitting.
I looked over at Dan and neither of us had to say what we both were thinking: If this guy can make it without quitting, so can we.
Still, a brutal incline lay ahead.
I decided to focus my attention not on reaching the top but rather on making it halfway. I pushed forward and counted down in my head until I reached that point. Then, I did it again, mentally splitting up the ride remaining in aiming for the halfway point. Before long, I reached the top.
I often think of this lesson when I face a seemingly-insurmountable task.
Instead of thinking, “How will I ever achieve this?” I focus instead on getting halfway there. And then halfway again. And again.
Every aspect of sales (and life, for that matter) involves an uphill climb. No one, as the saying goes, gets dropped off at the top of the mountain. You must start at the bottom of each task. Each challenge.
The PanMass Challenge has water-breaks every 20 miles or so. Dan and I stopped for a drink, some snacks, and to catch our breath. He and I were munching on our Oreos when the guy with one leg cycled past us.
He didn’t stop.
Dan and I looked at each other and without saying a word, put our helmet back on and headed for the next hill.
There is always another hill. Think about halfway. And then halfway again. You can do it.
The Sales Vault has answers to your sales challenges. Become an Insider ator call Bill at 781-934-7036
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.