In my business, I spend a lot of time in the classroom; two types of classrooms, as a matter of fact. The first is the classroom of application and experience where we apply what we teach, always attempting to refine and enhance our strategies, tactics, and application skills as we work to provide solutions to problems of our clients and our own. The second is the training classroom, where we work fervently to impart what we believe are the absolute best strategies, tactics, and skills in our business. I am constantly amazed at the polarized ingestion and application of these sales methods by participants. Some will latch on and hold tight to anything, no matter how small, that can make them better. When we see these people weeks and months later, they often relate stories about how a specific tactic was used and the success that resulted. These are invariably the pros of today or tomorrow.
On the other end of the spectrum are some who will say, “We’ve heard that, tell us something new”. To which I want to respond, and occasionally do, “Get a clue. Your production level shows clearly that you are not applying what you heard before. What makes me believe that you will apply anything new?”
As managers, I know you experience similar situations and possibly ask yourself what to do about it. I believe there is an answer. A brief illustration might best define the solution.
Before his death in 1996 at age 83, my father worked out at the YMCA 5 days a week. This was a consistent regimen he held to after his retirement at age 62 until only weeks before his death. One day, I was jogging around the oval track, joining him on his daily 3-mile run. Down below the elevated track, on the basketball court, was a 92-year-old gentleman shooting baskets. I use the term “gentleman” loosely as my father told me this man was an acerbic old codger with whom he did not get along very well. As we jogged, I noticed that the man was not shooting baskets in any currently traditional way or from spots on the court where shots are normally taken. He was standing at mid-court “heaving” the ball in a two-handed, under-handed motion toward the basket. None went in or even came close to the basket. Quite a comical picture!
I was startled as Dad shouted to him in a voice that did not belie his lack of feeling for the geriatric jump shooter, “Why don’t you shoot the shot you are going to use in a game?” I could hardly contain my laughter. Shoot the shot you are going to shoot in the game – for a 92-year old? In our environment, this can be translated as, “practice the skills repeatedly and consistently that you will use when the deal is on the line.”