Do you ever get sick of hearing about professional athletes like Tom Brady, Tiger Woods and Steph Curry who have tremendous success because of their work ethic and ability to endure pain?
Or maybe you’re tired of stories about the special forces like the Green Berets, Navy Seals and Army Rangers, and the six months of hell they go through to become the elite hardened warriors that have earned our lasting respect?
Or what about the 14-year old kid that gets out his Fender Stratocaster and plays, practicing the same lick over and over and over, until he either gets it down or his fingers bleed?
I was watching Dan Rather interview Toby Keith, a country music star most of us have heard about over the years. Toby loves music, but he made his living as a roughneck working on an oil rig along with his dad. When a recession hit the oil industry, his dad retired and Toby decided to follow his dream, playing music. Ten years later, after playing every little bar in any town he could find, he had a breakthrough. He wrote a hit song. Ten years of bleeding with his pencil all over a piece of paper, trying to write lyrics and a lick that would resonate with a big audience.
The only thing that got him through was his ability to endure the pain of no money, small audiences, sleeping in crappy hotels and the dream to someday make it.
Enduring pain, practicing your craft, mastering your mind and improving your skills. It’s the same whether you’re an athlete, a warrior, a musician or a salesperson.
But, too many of us look at the highlight reels of the rich and famous, those applauded for being the best and can easily fall into the trap of thinking they got where they are, without putting in the blood, sweat and tears that were necessary to hone those skills, mold that mindset, chisel that intellect and grow themselves into the masters we witness today.
Last week I was teaching a group of producers The Wedge sales process. It’s not unusual that about half of the people in the class are a bunch of marshmallows. The last time they did any hard work was in high school when their coach busted their butt for slacking off.
I asked the group, “Any of you ever play sports?” About half the group raised their hands. “Any football players?” Still a bunch of hands went up. “Anyone play quarterback?” One guy raised his hand.
“Ok, let me ask you this, did you have a playbook in high school?” Yes, sir.
“How many plays?” I asked. He said about 60.
“Did you have to memorize that playbook?” Yes, sir, I did.
“Great, come up here and draw one on the white board for me.” And, he did. So, I asked him to draw another one, then another one.
“Nice job bud, you obviously learned your high school playbook really well. How long ago was that?” He responded: “About eight years ago.”
“Awesome, could you draw all 60 plays if I gave you the time?” Yes sir, I believe I could.
“Good. Now that I know you are loaded with a good mind, a good memory, a smart guy, I want you to draw your sales playbook for me. When you get that done, then draw out, in any way you want, your service differentiators.”
I tore six clean pages off the flip chart, pasted them on the wall and said, “Go to work.”
The other 29 producers sat there quietly, their jaws dropped, their eyes bugged. I could easily read their minds: They were sitting there thinking; glad that’s not me.
Here is the point. This former quarterback is a smart guy, a talented kid. He has virtually unlimited potential as a producer, a professional salesperson. But the fact is, he’s never been challenged to be anywhere near his best.
Unlike his high school football coach, no one told him to study a sales playbook until he had it mastered. In fact, not only did they not expect him to master a sales playbook, they never even gave him one. So, if you want to be an elite producer, an epic performer, a hero to your kids, you have to do the work.
Are you capable? No doubt you are, but you must endure the pain of loneliness, hard work and repetition. You need a plan. You need to role play with a partner, write out your sound bites and rehearse your scripts.
Let’s take this one step further: I recently asked a group, “How many believe that you are a professional salesperson, you just happen to be selling insurance as your product?” Most of them raised their hands. “OK, as a professional salesperson, how many books have you read on selling in the past five years? Just hold your fingers up.”
You might be amazed that two-thirds of them raised either zero or only one finger. Professional salespeople that have read zero books on how to sell.
One of the beautiful things about the insurance business is this: There is no limitation on the number of prospects out there — it’s endless. And, there is no limitation on the amount of product to be sold. Insurance companies all over the country are begging for more premium in their coffers. So, that suggests there is an endless amount of income to be made for someone willing to do the work.
But work is hard. Marshmallows don’t like to work. Marshmallows get squeezed and lose their shape. Hopefully that’s not you.
Is it time for you to endure the pain of success? Then go to work: Develop your plan. Master your sales process and become one of the elite performers, epic achievers, super producers — because you can.
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