Two words sum up a timeless philosophy: "Try harder." There's no question that trying harder is one of the main building blocks for success in life. Yet many individuals just don't understand the magic of making the extra effort in pursuit of some goal. Trying harder than a business competitor is often what separates winners from losers. And how many marriages could be saved if only both parties tried harder?
I'm sure we've all heard the saying, "If you can't outthink them, outwork them." That's sound advice, and it works. A story I heard recently really illustrates the point.
The salesperson was young and inexperienced. She worked hard but had trouble making sales. Her customers were supermarket managers. Unfortunately, they always seemed to be too busy to spend much time listening to her pitch. Time after time store managers had to interrupt her in the middle of the presentation because of time constraints. The saleswoman was becoming quite frustrated. Then one day another store manager interrupted her-but to give her some valuable advice. He told her she had a great product and was very conscientious, but she was always calling on him when he just couldn't afford the time to listen to her presentation. He told her that in the future she should come in early, before the store opened, when he would have more time to hear her out. He told her that advice probably would apply to most other store managers as well.
From that day forward the saleswoman changed her protocol. She started making her calls early in the morning. Sometimes she even helped managers stock shelves and set up displays. Such an approach wasn't convenient for her, but she persisted, and her sales rose dramatically. She soon became the No. 1 salesperson in her company. Today she is national sales director of a major corporation that has products in every supermarket in the country. Her career really took off when she tried a little harder by getting up early to accommodate her customers' hectic schedules.
A similar story involves a young woman who sold carpeting and floor coverings to healthcare facilities. Her supervisors told her that the people she needed to see-those who made the purchasing decisions-were the top administrator or chief executive officer. Of course we all know how busy healthcare executives are today. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day for most CEOs. But the saleswoman had a theory. I attended a meeting of sales-savvy executives where she shared her secret. "My bosses told me I had to get to the top management to sell carpeting. So I tried something different," she told us. "I called CEOs directly early in the morning, sometimes as early as 6 a.m. I also called them late in the evenings and got through. A lot of people in my business don't like to make calls early in the morning or at night. It's too inconvenient. But it worked for me." She was the top salesperson at her company that year.
Call it luck. Call it working smart. The fact is these two sales professionals tried harder. They took the extra step, giving up the "regular hours" approach to try something more demanding and a little riskier. And it paid off handsomely. Of course it's a principle that extends beyond the sales field. No matter what your goal, trying a little harder always seems to make you a little luckier. Unfortunately, too many people won't even try at all.
Be all that you can be,
Charles S. Lauer