Friday, July 19, 2019

Sales Gymnastics

Sometimes surprises drop in on you at the most inopportune times.  It happens at home, in business and life in general.  Just when you think everything is under control something pops up that says, "Nope.  It ain't that easy!"

A few years back I was clearing some brush away from a barbed-wire fence that kept the cattle from wandering down into a creek that crossed our place.  The creek was deep and had steep banks, but there were places where the cattle could get down into it and find their way out a watergap to the neighbors.  I don't really like cattle standing in the creek -- I don't think it is the best way to treat our water resources -- and I certainly don't like them straying, so we put in a fence to keep them out.

The creek was bordered by a band of trees and brush that acted as a filter zone for water running into it and served as a wildlife sanctuary.  Many times I flushed a number of deer from there.  We made sure the fence was deer friendly.  Keeping the Greenbriar, honeysuckle and other vines from climbing on the wires required regular attention.

Growing up in the Plains country of the southern Texas Panhandle, I was unfamiliar with some of the denizens of the woods of northeast Texas.  One of them that I never imagined existed was a little tree-climbing snake called the Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus).  They blend in splendidly with the vines and leaves and are rarely seen -- unless they happen to drop down on your shoulder as you are clearing vines off of a fence.  Fortunately, my heart was in good enough shape to take the shock.  My gymnastic response was enough to send him flying onto the nearby wire where he silently wrapped himself and looked at me like, "What's the big deal?"

Once my heart had slowed back to normal and I realized it was just a harmless critter whose abode I was disturbing, I went on about the business of clearing the fence.  I left our little green friend to find his way back to a more comfortable shady spot.  My level of vigilance for his kin was raised considerably after the encounter.

For some reason, this morning, I relate that encounter to things that happen in sales.  It seems to never fail that even with deep preparation and planning, the unexpected has a way of showing up at the worst possible time.  It tends to throw less seasoned sales people off of their stride and causes them to falter and fumble.  There really is no way to plan for such things, it is a matter of learning to control our reaction.

Me jumping around like I was being attacked by Ninjas wasn't the right reaction for the slender green visitor to my shoulder; calmness would have been better.  They are harmless reptiles and all I had to do was gently pick it up and place it back in a more suitable location.  That is also the best response to the surprises that jump up in a sales call.  Take them calmly, smile if appropriate, or commiserate if necessary and then set them into their proper place.

Sometimes it means you start over, but usually it is just another obstacle that needs handled.  Controlling ones own reaction to surprises is something that comes with experience.  It comes faster, though, when you go in expecting something unplanned.  Part of mental preparation is to expect the unexpected.

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