Read this article by Bill Farquharson and loved his analogy of selling and thought I would share it with you:
Starting out in sales, you are in somewhat of a vacuum. Very often, there is no way to measure your success as you are likely the only one in your particular predicament.
So, you begin your journey in first gear.
First gear consists of learning the industry and, for many of us, sales itself. It’s frustrating and challenging and there is very little going on that gives you any reason to believe this was a good career choice over selling mobile phones for Verizon at the mall.
Until one day…
One day, you get a nibble on the line and you pull in a fish. In the weeks that follow, other bait is taken and suddenly you are no longer in first gear. You have shifted into second.
When you are in second gear, you are a dangerous person. Dangerous because you know just enough to get by but still not enough to be effective. There is a chance that you will hit a stop sign and have to downshift. Hopefully, however, you have kept up your momentum in the engine within you is begging to be shifted into third.
And so you do.
There is a lot of torque in third gear. Anyone who’s been in third gear can attest to this fact. Third gear happens right around the six month mark, at the earliest, but very often as late as the one year mark. Small- to medium-sized orders are coming in with increasing regularity. You are starting to pass other cars and your speed gives you confidence.
Fourth gear is trouble.
It’s trouble because you run the risk of flatlining, unable to get to the next level and afraid to slip back. You are typically crazy busy in fourth gear with lots of those small- to medium-sized orders taking up a lot of your time.
What’s ahead is fifth gear and, more importantly, cruise control. The reps who are in cruise control are the ones who have a huge book of business from loyal and profitable customers. They’ve been in sales for quite a while and have worked to get where they are. You look at them with envy.
Getting into fifth gear is all about finding and landing larger accounts. The selling cycle of this process is give or take 18 months, and is best started when you are in third gear.
It’s important to note that there is no shame in downshifting. If the sales engine demands it, go ahead and push in the clutch and hit the gas. You’ll be back in no time!
Those in cruise control are remarkably calm. They’re really not working that hard to maintain their speed. Funny how that happens.
You’ll get there. You will. Stick with it and recognize that, as the blog’s title states, what got you here won’t get you there. Challenge everything that you do with an eye towards doing it better. And faster.