A lot of boxing fans were disappointed in what was billed as the fight of the century last weekend: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
The fight went the distance with Mayweather winning a unanimous decision. Fans were looking for a knockout -- the two boxers weren’t. What great fighters know is that the way to win the fight is to do what boxing trainers call “work the cut.” They don’t try to simply throw that one big knockout punch, what they do is they throw jabs and try to cut their opponent’s face. Then they spend the remaining rounds “working the cut” to make the eye swell shut. That’s when a knockout opportunity may come.
Working the cut is a great metaphor for sales. Like boxing, sales is about persistence, discipline and defeating your own emotions. Working the cut is the key to sales success while simply looking for the proverbial knockout is the key to failure. Working the cut in sales is about staying the course, working your process and not deviating from your game plan when you’re being attacked. You have to keep making contact, communicating and following up with prospects after hearing the dreaded word “no.”
Amazingly, the overwhelming majority of sales are made after five follow up calls. They are made by folks who embrace working the cut. Working the cut in sales is about adopting a “buy or die” mentality. In other words, call on the prospect until they either buy from you or die of old age.
Why is this imperative? In my experience training sales teams and listening to my coaching clients speak about their vendors, the persistence of working the cut does two things:
1. It translates into the decision-maker having confidence in the sales person’s ability.
2. The harder you have to work to land a client, the harder they are to lose. (Remember, most of your competition will quit trying to pry that business away from you before the fifth call.)
Most sales people quit because they can’t handle the rejection and don’t embrace the grind of the process of selling. They’ve bought into the myth of overnight success or that the job should be easy. In reality, overnight success is thousands of nights in the making and you should expect winning business to get harder, not easier, just like a fight gets tougher in the later rounds.
Your emotions are a lousy leader. They tell you to quit when life hits you hard and you get tired. The little voice in your head tries to make you think you’re the only one going through a tough time. When we let our emotions hijack our decisions, we are more apt to quit. Then the only reward is living with regret.
It’s about persevering through the unglamorous activities that lead to the glamorous result. Mayweather threw 435 punches and only landed 148. The cumulative effect of those 435 was a $180 million-dollar pay day. Ignore your emotions and keep working the cut.
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