The Race Isn’t Always Won by the Fastest Runner. Your Sales Style Matters.


March 13, 2018

A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.

"Do you ever get anywhere?" he asked with a mocking laugh.

"Yes," replied the Tortoise, "and I get there sooner than you think. I'll run you a race and prove it."

The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.

The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.
The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up; the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.

The race is not always to the swift.

The above fable of the hare and the tortoise was written about 2,500 years ago. Aesop was a storyteller and a slave who lived in ancient Greece. His stories are timeless. His lessons are particularly appropriate for the society we live and compete in today. Check out more of his great stories at the Library of Congress

At any given moment there are about three billion people on the internet. Our prospects are being hammered by people trying to grab their attention … trying to sell them something. The average attention span today is somewhere around 6 seconds. Maybe less. 

Your customers are being bombarded by emails, texts, phone calls and face-to-face meetings from salespeople wanting to do business. Trying to shout louder or speak faster than everyone else is not the answer. People have their finger on the DELETE button all the time. Think seconds for email and cold calls, minutes for face-to-face encounters.

So, what’s the solution? What are you to do? The answer is neither quick nor glamorous. Take a lesson from Aesop’s fable of the hare and the tortoise. Slow down. Plan for the long haul.

A client of mine had a salesperson who was a cold calling demon. Kris never got off the phone. He was at his desk making calls first thing in the morning, rarely stopped for lunch, and was the last person to leave in the evening. I believe he made more calls every day than the rest of the team combined.

He was successful. He made quota every month. He also left a ton of business on the table. Kris went through prospects like a tornado goes through parts of the Midwest. His sales philosophy: “I don’t have time to screw around with people. I’ve got numbers to make. Either they buy, or they don’t. Next!”

Eventually he burned out and quit. Look, you don’t have to be like the hare. Neither do you have to be like the tortoise. There’s a happy medium.

Treat your customers with respect. Call on them like you want to be called on. Don’t get in their face in the first two minutes. It rarely works. There are no magic words, no attention grabbers they haven’t heard a hundred times before. They’ll get rid of a bad sales call in a nano second

You must earn the right to their time and attention. Build rapport. Build trust and credibility. There are many ways to do this that don’t take months or even weeks. Learn how to get good referrals and introductions. Learn how to make great sales calls. Invest in some good sales training. Don’t add to the clutter of bad sales calls and spam that’s such a problem today.

Oliver Connolly is the founder of Street Smart Sales Management. He helps sales management professionals build a sales force of overachievers.

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Oliver Connolly