So the Gray Ghost clocked her 100,000th mile today. In this age of throw-away devices and product turnover, that’s not bad for a car. Mind you, she’s barely two year old. She’s still just a kitten. My previous three cars totaled almost 850,000 miles upon the end of their times with me, so she and I have a lot more windshield time together.
Every so often I have days like today. Nothing on the schedule that requires urgent attention. Sometimes, especially in the summer, I will use the day to play with my kids or take the family somewhere fun and exciting. Heck, in year’s past, I might have done the same even on a winter day like today. But this is the year of the new me, and one of my goals is to be a better coworker. So it was time to brush off the ol’ list of contacts and start doing some prospecting.
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
– Bob Burg
I selected three accounts that I hadn’t visited in a long time and circled the names of 5 people I wanted to get back in front of. The account that was farthest away is about an hour and half from me, in good weather, and the other two I would circle back to on my way back home. A short 10 minutes into my drive, it was apparent that I wouldn’t make it out in the aforementioned 90 minutes. I was driving into near whiteout conditions, with blowing snow and slippery roads slowing us down to around 40mph on the Interstate.
Twice, the little voice of doubt crept into my mind, encouraging me to turn around and just call it a day. “The weather will be better tomorrow,” it said. “You can come back then.” In another time, I might have done exactly that. I might have found something easier to do, somewhere closer or more friendly to be, someone I have a better relationship with to see. I would have procrastinated for a tomorrow that would never come.
That was Me 2.0. Me 3.0 isn’t going to give in.
“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”
– Henry Golden
Lately, we’ve had some difficulty with some of our products. Recalls, backorders, product holds…it was a very tough 2012, and the currents were strong, especially when driven by the headwinds of a slowed economy. I’ve also had some bad luck with some of the products I chose to push in the past. I’ve always been keen to sell new technology, and got burned pretty badly after converting some big accounts several years ago, only to have those products recalled and never released again. It didn’t exactly hurt my reputation with the customers, but they’ve been very reticent to jump on board new products since then.
Because of those bad experiences, I focused on existing business and old technology the last few years. Yes, I hit numbers, but I didn’t drive new business. I was coasting. We have a fantastic new platform that was released last year, and it is as close to revolutionizing a segment of the marketplace as one can be without transforming it completely. Really exciting stuff! But again, I haven’t been pushing it hard and it has been falling on deaf ears (mostly because I didn’t fully embrace it). New products are the lifeblood of my business growth, and our ability to embrace, believe in, and sell them are what drive new opportunities for me and my peers. I had willingly let that slip from my business last year. I hadn’t done much new product pushing, nor had I truly prospected in quite some time.
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.”
The thing about prospecting is this: it’s scary when you think about it as trying to sell something to someone, but it’s exciting when you think of it as spreading good news. I’ve come to realize that I have some good news to share.
Furthermore, I’ve decided that this will be my year in so many other aspects, why would I let this area remain behind?
- If I can climb a mountain, run another Mudder, complete a triathalon, why the hell would I let a few extra office calls at the end of the day stop me?
- If I can learn 12 new skills that apply to my life, I can certainly learn several that apply to my business.
- If I can tough it out through the running and the workouts on a daily basis, I can definitely take the extra time to drive up through the snow and call on some valued customers.
So, yeah, today was a long day of driving, and some of it was white-knuckle. But it was a good day, filled with some good leads and promising results. And how do I know I did the right thing? Not 15 minutes after leaving one office, where I left a note for a customer, I received a phone call from a peer who had just seen that customer halfway across the state at another office and he mentioned that the customer would like to meet up with me. He had no way of knowing I had just stopped by his office to see him, but that’s how things work.
Put yourself out there, pound the pavement, fight the good fight, and things will come your way. You just have to be willing to work hard and put yourself in a position to jump at those opportunities.
“If you share a good idea long enough, it will eventually fall on good people.”
– Jim Rohn