Mud, Grand Canyon and Sales

Well, I am a native New Englander. I’ve logged a lot of mile on hiking the mountains in this area. I’ve seen a lot of rocks, roots and yup, muddy trails with awe inspiring views too! Here in New England there is often a stunning view at the summit or along the way making the hike rewarding.

I’ve signed up for a hike in the Grand Canyon with a group. I’ve spoken with the hike leader who helped me understand a little better how to train for a 9-10 mile hike in the desert followed by a 7-8 mile hike the next day while living in New Hampshire! It seems like the only thing the two area hikes have in common is putting one foot in front of the other as you wander the trail while enjoying the view!

On my relatively short 7 mile hike today I saw lots of mud. It’s been raining a lot in New Hampshire this August and the mountain is giving up its water as it makes it way to the lake, stream and eventually the ocean. It is so unusually to have mud this time of year. As I slipped once more, I wondered how this type of training will help me prepare for my big hike. Have you ever seen mud in the desert?

As I settled into the hike my mind turned to work and I started thinking about this hike and the similarity to sales. What can I say it kept my mind occupied for the next hour!

In New England you start your hike at the bottom of the mountain, in the Grand Canyon you start at the top. Starting at the bottom is more like sales at the start of the year when you have $0 sales and begin retiring quota with each sale. It seems like such a long way to go to reach the goal. It’s not so bad in New England as you can never see the top from the start of the trail as there are so many trees blocking your view but it’s important to know you are on the right trail at the right pace. In sales having quarterly goals helps keep the sales team focused on the intermediate goals which leads to a successful annual quota attainment.

With one foot in front of the other - Miles are miles, right? Log enough miles and you’ll be in better physical shape but logging the right type of miles will get you in the best shape to accomplish your goal faster with little wasted effort. Logging the miles is like the sales process. Learning to spend time on activities that help you achieve your goal. This is where all the analysis that sales operations accumulates comes in handy. Through analysis you can predict what activities will drive the right results. Plus, you need the right coach to show you how to improve your effort by focusing on the right activities with the right information. You can spend your time or spend your time wisely!

The terrain in New England is rocky with roots, mud and mostly shady. It can be steep or gradual but you always end up higher than were you started. The Grand Canyon trails appear to be dusty, sunny, and hard packed with minimal rocks, roots, no mud and you start your hike on the top. So, now I’m thinking about training and coaching. Just like these two locations are different, your company is different from another. Make sure that the training and coaching is tailored to your individual needs and not a cookie cutter approach. Don’t get me wrong, generic training can be fine but to excel, you need to have it specific to your needs. When your training simulates real life examples in your company, the sales team will identify with the example and envision themselves solving it just like they were trained.

For the hike at the Grand Canyon, I need to make some adjustments to my hiking gear, like lower boots, lighter pack, clothing to block out the sun, and carriers for much more water. In other words, I needed to figure out exactly what I think I’ll need and not make due with what I have.

This reminds me of a conversation with the Software of the Week VP of Sales that I talked with several years ago. He was always on the hunt for the latest and greatest (free or almost free) software that would help his sales team be more productive. The problem was there was no real thought given to exactly what the sales team needed and just before they got use to using it, if they even tried it at all, he was off onto something else for them to use. In effect, he was slowing down the sales process while he thought he was helping it. For me, before I make the adjustment to my gear, I see what I have, how it works and decide if I need something else to help me be successful. But wait, did I hear I’ll need a hat, gloves and a warm jacket for the early morning hike? But I thought Arizona was warmer than New Hampshire?

There are shortcuts to success. Success requires careful planning, training, coaching and implementing to help me go the distance. What about you?