Running an Ultra has EVERYTHING to do with Sales

Last year I came up with a bold idea.  I was turning 50 so I thought: “wouldn’t it be great to run a 50k trail race?”  I chose 50 kilometers because it was the shortest race with “50” in the name.  Way better than 50 miles.  Although I’ve remained fairly athletic over the years with skiing and playing soccer, I’m not a runner – at least I wasn’t at the time.  The longest race I completed was a 5k.  Was running a 50k a stupid idea?  Maybe. 

As I began to train for this beast of a run I couldn’t help but relate the entire process to other areas of my life.  When you’re running for hours your mind wanders off on all kinds of tangents.  With so much of my day job spent helping real estate brokers with business plans and sales, I started obsessing about the similarities between training for an ultra marathon and executing a sales/prospecting plan.  Here’s what I consider the top 5 takeaways.

Put it Out There.  

When I decided to do this run the first thing I did was tell everyone close to me.  Putting it out there creates instant accountability. I didn’t want to let me friends and family down.  How many of your friends and family know your specific business goals?

Putting it out there also helps you figure out the how.  Once it’s out there, your focus instantly turns from the what you’re going to do to how you’re going to do it.  If you’re specific about your “what” the activities for the “how” are much easier to figure out.  It’s one thing to say “I’m going to do a better job marketing this year.”  That’s like saying “I’m going to do more running this year.”  If you really want to start focusing on the activities for the “how” make sure the “what” is specific, like: “I’m going to run a 50k in July” or “I’m going to sell 20 more homes this year than I did last year.”

I found that putting it out there also worked well with ongoing activity.  If my weekend training involved a 20-mile run on Saturday followed by a 12-mile on Sunday I made sure to tell my friends and family on Friday.  If you’re going to set 10 appointments this week put it out there.

There’s no such thing as “junk” miles.  

When you’re training for an ultra-marathon you don’t have to spend a lot of time focusing on speed, interval training, etc.  You just run.  For the most part it doesn’t make much difference whether your runs are a certain pace, or whether you run flats, roads, or hills.   What matters is the miles.  Prospecting activity is very similar.  We’re often distracted with implementing perfect magic wand prospecting technique that’s going to improve our sales.  In reality, it’s the amount of activity that matters.  When you make more calls you get more appointments which lead to more sales.  It’s that simple. Keep running and keep dialing. 

The nice thing about training for an ultramarathon is that the activity is always the same, you just run at least a certain amount of miles on certain days of the week.  With sales and prospecting plans it’s easy to get caught up into having 5 or 6 different types of activities each week, whether it be phone calls, social media posts, emails, 1:1 appointments, newsletter campaigns, etc.   I would encourage any sales professional to try and focus on no more than 2 or 3 activities.  If you focus on just a few things you’ll do them well.

Watch your language. 

On the day of your 50k trail race you won’t finish the race by saying “I’m going to try hard.”  You’ll finish by saying “I’m going to finish this race even if my leg is broken.”   Words matter.  Don’t give yourself the easy way out with wishy washy commitments.  If you’re going to set 10 appointments per week, do it. 

You’ll get bugs in your eyes.  

There are days when you have a training run on a beautiful crisp morning watching the sunrise and everything feels great.  Picture rainbows and unicorns.  There are other days when you’re at mile 9 for your 20-mile training run and your feel terrible and you just ran through a cloud of nats, many of which are now imbedded in your eyes and down your throat.  It would be so easy to turn around and go home.  If you’ve made 20 calls when you’re supposed to make 25 it’s easy to find an excuse to be done at the 20. Don’t stop. Wipe the bugs away and keep going. 

You need help. 

Running is a primarily a solo sport, it’s pretty much you and the road.  Sales prospecting isn’t a lot different.  What we tend to forget is all of the people around us that not only have the ability to help, but they want to help. Let them.  For me, training for an ultra was tough.  After I finished a run I would snap a picture of my route to my wife.  I can’t tell you how important her simple reply of “Nice Job!” was to my progress.  Such a little thing but so critical.  Do you have someone that helps support your progress?

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