The Sales Concussion
In 1978, during my senior year at East Longmeadow High School, I got my bell rung during a soccer game. While heading a ball kicked by the opposing goaltender high into the air, my brain banged up against the inside of my skull hard enough to give me a concussion.
Oddly, I am grateful this happened as the experience taught me a lesson I rely on even today, 41 years later.
Watch any NFL football game and you’re likely to hear the phrase, “Concussion protocol.” This occurs when a player is brought off the field and run through a series of tests. Interestingly, one practice a concussed player experiences today is the same one that I went through in 1978.
My mom made me stay up all night long.
You see, there is a slight chance that a concussion could lead to a coma in the first 24 hours. So, every hour on the hour all night long, Priscilla Farquharson walked in my room and asked, “How’s it going?” and every hour on the hour all night long, I gave her the same reply: “I'm fine now, but remember an hour ago when you asked me that? I thought I was okay, but now realize how far I’ve come.”
What I was experiencing that night was a lot like being new to sales. For the longest time, you feel like a complete idiot. Your product or service is new to you and everything is confusing. The act of being a salesperson is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and you are frustrated daily. But with time and experience, you improve.
One day, your boss says to you, “How’s it going?” and you say, “Okay!” More time passes and six months later, she again asks, “How’s it going?” and you respond, “I'm fine now, but remember six months ago when you asked me that? I thought I was okay, but now realize how far I’ve come.”
Clearly, a young sales rep or a newly concussed Bill Farquharson doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He thinks he’s fine every step of the way but, looking back, realizes how much improvement he’s experienced. And that never stops. Hopefully.
Salespeople need to get whacked upside the head hard enough to realize there is room for growth, for improvement. Let this sales tip be your smelling salts, a wake-up call to remind you that if you are the same salesperson you were six months ago, you are at risk. The customers have changed and the competition has upped their game. Standing still is akin to slipping backwards.
The key factors to sales success are 100% within your control to improve. Get back to basics, return to the fundamentals, and challenge every aspect of your sales approach and thinking. It shouldn’t take a concussion to teach you the need for continuous growth in sales skills.