As part of my morning run I pass a small pond. It’s not even necessarily a nice pond, but more of an upgraded marsh (I’m really making it sound worse than it is). But nice pond or not, there is one main component that all these areas have in common: geese.
During the summer months our feathered friends share many spaces with Canadians. Most of us also know there is an inevitability that comes with sharing our summer with the Canadian Goose: their poo.
On this particular morning I was about 7 minutes into my run and passing the only pond on my route. I was very focused on my music and the sidewalk under my feet, when I quickly had to side and stutter-step because of all the goose poo that littered the sidewalk. In a brief 200 metre span, there must have been at least 75 droppings that I had to avoid. It caught me by surprise and I was forced to adapt, slow down and step very carefully.
The next morning I left for my run on the same route as the previous day. I remembered the droppings from the day before, and as I approached the “danger zone”, I made sure to raise my chin and look further ahead then I normally would. I then planned my path along the sidewalk that would cause the least amount of displacement. The result; I breezed through the poo without slowing down or disrupting my pace.
There is a difference between being proactive and being reactive.
In sales, planning is essential to a professional’s success. You must plan prior to a call, a meeting, a presentation, or any time you “face” a customer. When you are facing quotas, you need to plan to ensure you have enough quality opportunities in your funnel to achieve your goals. You plan with your customers for busy seasons, for shut downs, for expansion. In order to call yourself a true sales professional, you need foresight. I understand it’s impossible to plan for everything. Challenges and changes come up and naturally we need to be able to react and adapt; but a sales person cannot survive solely on being reactive.
The first time, I was unprepared, caught by surprise and had to juke around the goose droppings. By simply being reactive, I was slowed down and my pace was significantly impacted.
The next day, when I proactively outlined my path, I was able to continue running as planned, unaffected by the obstacles dropped before me.
And let’s be realistic; it’s easier to plan than it is to scrape poo off your shoe.