With a warble in his voice, a CEO leans over and says, “How am I going to grow my business when the economy is still trying to recover?”
I can tell his trepidation over the future is genuine, and he’s petrified of not only the costly mistakes, but of making any.
My advice to him and CEO’s just like him–stop worrying about what you can’t control, and start focusing on what you can. What is in our control is how we influence the people around us. And during tough economic times, it’s even more important to be capable of courageously influencing others. Simply stated, courageous influence means affecting someone’s thinking or actions by showing the ability to face difficulty or uncertainty without being overcome by fear.
Let me share the story of Roger Bannister as an example:
In 1903, British Olympic coach Harry Andrews made the statement, “The mile record is four minutes, 12.75 seconds. This record will never be broken.”
A fierce intellectual debate took place over several decades about whether the human body had reached its full potential. Medical evidence was even offered based on bones, muscles and joints that proved a human being simply could not run any faster than four minutes, 12.75 seconds.
On May 6, 1954, in 15 mph crosswinds and 25 mph gusts, British runner Roger Bannister broke the record of the four-minute mile. His mile came in at three minutes, 59.4 seconds. Needless to say it was an impressive feat.
What was even more impressive? Later that year, two other men ran a four-minute mile, and in the next year, 236 people also did the “impossible.”
As the gusty day proved, Roger couldn’t control anything around him. The only thing he could control was his own performance. Through that controlled tour-de-force, Roger Bannister courageously influenced the decisions and the performance of others.
The take away? To grow your business, it’s vital for leaders to take their business development teams into the scary mist of market uncertainty. Lead by participating in the sales process with them – set goals with them, listen to them, coach them, hop in the car and make calls with them.
As the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, said, “I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is.” The same thing could be said about leadership in business development– lead them where you want them to go.
With that in mind how are you doing in the courage and influence department? Do you think your team is ready? Do you even have the right people to carry your company, not only out of this economy, but for the next five or 10 years?
Not sure? Then let me ask you some base level questions:
Is there a 90-day written sales plan, or would you need to create it?
Do you have a written and qualified master prospect list?
How are you doing in the area of appointment setting with prospects?
How many strategic selling conversations do you have in an average week?
Do you actually ask them to do business with you or is it merely implied?
What is your follow through strategy for prospects that need time to decide?
How much role playing do you/your team do in an average week?
If you hesitate for a moment on any of these questions, then ask yourself, “Am I really courageously influencing my business development team?”
If not, that’s okay – there’s still time.
The truth is Roger Bannister didn’t just wake up one day and decide to break the four-minute mile. It was only through goal setting, training and perseverance – factors in his control – which positioned him to break the record and go on to become Sir Roger Bannister.
What’s your four-minute mile?
Greg Wright is the president of The Wright Track, based in Austin. firstname.lastname@example.org
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