This is a guest blog post, by Chris Peterson, Principal at Vector Firm
Hank Aaron was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He holds the all-time record for runs-batted-in and total bases, and is second in home runs. In fact, his surpassing of Babe Ruth’s seemingly unbreakable record of career home runs is one of the most memorable sports moments of the last century.
For 30 years, Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs stood as the lifetime home run record until it was broken by Barry Bonds. I believe that his most impressive statistic is that while setting these power-hitting records, the 5’11’’ 180-lb. Hammerin’ Hank was able to maintain a .305 batting average.
Think about that last sentence for a minute. For a man of that average stature to hit with such power, he would have to swing out of his shoes, right? When you watch footage of Aaron hitting home runs, he certainly does put every ounce into his swing – sometimes looking out of control. So, how could this man that’s no bigger than most high school history teachers hit with such insane power and have enough bat control to hit above the .300 mark? Well, that’s the lesson that every salesperson needs to hear and embrace.
Hank Aaron followed a process during every at-bat. His process was simple – he took what the pitcher gave him. He didn’t try to hit the ball 500 feet every time. He accepted what was given to him and hit the ball as well as he could.
This meant a lot of singles and doubles – many ground balls that snuck through the infield and line drives that fell in front of the outfielders. This was his process, and he treated it like a religion … except every now and then. When Aaron saw a pitch between his mid-thighs and knees, on the inner half of home plate, he would forget his process and violently swing out of control. When he saw that perfect pitch, he went for it … and he got it 755 times!
As I’ve preached a gazillion times, salespeople must stay in process. As John Whetsel told me in 1995: “Build a process and follow it. And I don’t care what the process is.” I bought into that statement and enjoyed a lot of success because of it. But every now and then, you need to swing out of your shoes. You need to go for it. You need to wipe the calendar for the afternoon and trust your instincts.
However – and this is the real lesson – if you’re going to abandon your process, you better know what your favorite pitch looks like. If a prospective customer who has a budget and a need throws something on your plate, then make it happen. If your number-one client needs someone to facilitate a vision meeting for their IT department, then don’t even look at your calendar – just do it. Unfortunately, many salespeople have never seen a pitch they don’t like. They jump at every whim and dump their process at every email request from anyone.
So, as you’re going through your week, remember Aaron diligently following his process except when he saw the perfect pitch. Don’t be afraid to forsake your process but make sure it’s for the right situation!
This article has been republished with the express permission of Vector Firm.
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