Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with the leader of a sizable company here in Toronto, when I left the meeting I found a new bounce in my feet. This was partly because he got me to think about my game, which is always good, especially because it is always my goal going into these meetings is to make them think, so when we both do, it is great.
He asked me if I participate in sports, I told him my vice is running 1/2 marathons and he then posed an interesting question:
Let’s say you were 600 metres from the finish line, in the lead, just when your arch nemesis was about to overtake you, how do you react, what do you do at that crucial point?
The metaphor was obvious, in his highly competitive field, his people are always in a though sell, as many times as I do 21.1K is tough, takes a lot of work in advance, just like the work required by his reps, and it takes skilful execution of a well developed game plan. But what it takes most is the ability to respond to conditions as they present themselves, clearly the fact that I say respond suggests that events deviated from the plan, had they not, the plan would have sufficed.
He predicted that most sales people would say they would “buckle down and redouble their effort in doing what they were doing” Sticking to their plan, despite the fact that it no longer seems to be getting the desired results, the competition is not only gaining, but about to overtake. The finish line – or the deal – is in view, but still out of grasp, and the competition is about to get there first. Does doing more of the same a viable response? No!
Sure there is the old notion of working harder, although it has been shown that working smarter is more productive. Doing more of the same is hardly proactive in responding to an unanticipated reality. There are other clichés that can be hauled out, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and all that dishwater, but it is hardly proactive or innovative at a time when that is exactly what is being screamed out for, bold action that stems from experience, and the will to win.
Being prepared is having a series of contingency plans, the last of which is the plan to abandon the disproven and respond by reaching into your experience and willingness to win. The combination of skill and will and attitude, leading you to be able to respond in a way that disrupts the competitor, while creating the ability to regain the lead and win the deal, Spontaneous Discipline. That strange combination of being disciplined in how one acts, but not limited in the action one is willing to take to win.
It comes down to the question of “can you turn around and run backwards to the finish line at sufficient pace to win, while keeping an eye on what the competition is doing and taking steps to counter and mitigate their effectiveness.
It could be anything really; the key is the ability to respond in an innovative way, rather than painfully hanging on doing more of the same.
So what would you do, 600 metres from the finish line and your competitors is now breathing down your neck?
What’s in Your Pipeline?