Today’s post is by Sam Kariuki, a sales trainer and strategist based in Kenya. He is the author of The Guy Who Fired His Boss: Discover the Secret Entrepreneur in You.
Kenyans have dominated top positions in marathons for years; most of the top 10 fastest marathon runners in recorded history have been from Kenya. What can salespeople learn from these running superstars? Here are four important principles world-record champions can teach you.
1. Winners thrive on passion.
If you want to fly high, then you need to spend time with eagles, not chickens.
Although most world-record holders come from the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, and no one is sure whether genetics, diet, or environment accounts for their success, there’s a single place they come to train: the town of Iten. In fact, athletes from around the world (including Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, and Stephen Kiprotich) have trained in Iten.
They come to Iten to practice with the Kenyan superstars. They want to see what Kenyans do, but they also want to be consumed by the passion for winning that burns in Kenyan runners.
When this passion consumes you, you will want to pursue the goals that champions want to pursue. You will want to do whatever they do to win. When you spend time with people aiming to exceed their quotas, break records, and win trophies, then you are likely to start desiring the same.
If you want to become a sales superstar, you need to have the passion and drive of those who consistently win. You need to care about the things they care about; you need to start feeling how enjoyable it is to win. Ordinary runners won’t bother to reduce their time by a second, but a fraction of a second becomes an obsession for champions.
2. Winners stretch beyond their comfort zone.
Salespeople need to spend time with those who put them in a position to stretch beyond what is comfortable. If you run with those who have consistently beaten world records, you are likely to perform beyond what you thought your physical abilities and skills could allow. You will be pushed to endure more than the ordinary. You will be forced to run longer distances. Your muscles will be stretched and become sore. You will wake up earlier. You will avoid unhealthy foods. This ultimately sets you at a level higher than where you were before you started practicing with the champions.
3. Winners have a strong mind-set.
In Iten, you meet many people who believe they can set new records, beat the world’s finest, and achieve greatness in the world of athletics. You meet young men and women practicing without shoes who believe that they will shine on the world’s biggest stage and pull themselves out of poverty. They have seen hundreds of others do that; therefore, it is not hard for them to believe the same.
Ordinary people have ordinary beliefs; champions have the beliefs of champions. Sales superstars have the beliefs of superstars, while ordinary salespeople have the beliefs of average salespeople. When you spend time with superstars, your ordinary beliefs are altered.
Seeing champions practice, feel pain, and be human demystifies them. When you discover that the champions are just like you, then you start believing you can become like them. If you keep pace with them during practice, then you believe you can do the same in the real race. That is how many pacesetters from Kenya upstage the stars for whom they are supposed to set the pace.
4. Winners behave like champions.
Watch and model the behaviors of the sales superstars. Wake up at the same time they wake up, prepare for a call the same way they do, build rapport as they do, care for customers as they do, follow the same steps when making a presentation, and you will see the same results.
Remember, you don’t have to travel to Iten to feel the spirit of Iten. Iten can be a place in your organization or city where you can meet sales champions. It can be a biography that you read or a group of superachievers you spend time with or shadow. The more winners you study and emulate, the more you’ll succeed.