Pain can work. After sleeping in the hut at over 13,500’, we woke up at midnight and had a 5,000 foot day to climb to the summit of Mt. Elbrus. Here was Phil’s response: “Once or twice a year Sue used her hard-earned vacation days to come along. We woke up in the sleeping hut the morning of our summit climb and Sue felt completely trashed. Her head was pounding and she didn’t think she could move. I’d suggested she stay at the hut. We were going for the experience, not for the summit, and I only wanted her climbing if it was going to be fun. But Sue had said, “Well, I can stay here and feel like crap or I can climb and feel like crap. If I’m going to feel like crap I might as well go.” After a little bit of climbing she had begun to feel better, which hadn’t surprised me. Sometimes movement is the best medicine for altitude ills.”
You can endure extreme environments when you have a team you trust. In this video, you’ll see me at Camp 2 on Mount Everest, bunkered down with extreme wind blowing down the mountain and all around us.
“Camp 2 is advanced base camp, so a lot of tents were set up there: a cook tent, a storage tent, tents for guides and Sherpas, a tent for me and Sue…We were just settling into our own tent…
The next morning, despite the forecast, we woke up to good weather… then, fierce wind higher up had made it impossible to climb. With this second warning, we took down the tents of climbers who were not currently at Camp 2 and put additional guy lines on all the others. I took some comfort from the fact that there were a lot of us in camp to tie things down if the wind turned out to be stronger than we expected. In early afternoon it began to blow. Sue and I hung out in our sleeping bags and talked and read. By mid-afternoon it was getting hard to hear each other over the wind. It must have been blowing at around at 60 mph. Fierce wind storms are common in the mountains but are usually short-lived, so I was surprised, as the day wore on, to feel the wind increase. In late afternoon I poked my head out the tent door. About twenty feet away our two dome tents—the cook tent and storage tent—were straining against their ties. There was no way they would make it if we didn’t fight the wind together to reinforce the guy lines.
Through the night the wind howled. Over and over we were awakened by the tent wall slapping our faces and pumice and ice battering the walls. When light came, the wind was as fierce as ever. The cook tent went down and we knew if the storage tent went, our expedition would be in a world of hurt.
Finally, around two in the afternoon the wind began to calm. When it was clear that the worst was over, I went outside to inspect the damage. Remarkably, the cook tent was the only one damaged. One of the Sherpas suggested that we use blue tarps to cover the ripped sections and we radioed Eric at base camp to send some up. Then we congratulated ourselves on our teamwork. It was only because everyone had pitched in that we hadn’t suffered potentially expedition-ending damage.”
Perseverance is like a muscle that becomes stronger with exercise and practice. It’s a habit that enables you to approach every personal or professional challenge with focus and determination. We believe that perseverance is the key to a successful and rewarding life.”
In this video, Phil narrates as I climb up the ice flow—it was a much tougher session that we’d anticipated because of a collapse at the top. Tough or not, there was only one thing to do. Keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, take lots of little breaks, and keep moving toward my goal.
“Perseverance is the singular quality that Everest summiteers and professional leaders have in common. They both recognize that pain is temporary. They persevere through thick and thin because they have an inner beacon of confidence to draw upon when the going gets tough. They also choose their teams with care. As Sue’s husband, Phil, often said, “Surround yourself with people who won’t let you quit.”
In sales, it’s important to realize that being a part of a team is a major benefit and can lead you a more successful career path; in order to achieve your full potential as a top sales performer, you must grasp the strength that comes with being a part of a dependable group and take full advantage of it.
For most climbers, going it alone is neither the safest nor the most efficient way to reach the summit. Inevitably, soloists run smack up against the limits of what they can achieve on their own. Without the support and experience of a team, they can expose themselves to extreme risks that reduce their chances of a successful outcome.
In sales, too, lone wolves can leave themselves vulnerable when they fail to forge the long-term relationships, teams, and networks they need to achieve at the highest levels throughout their careers. They may find intermittent success thanks to their great instincts, confidence, and drive to achieve. But these attributes will only serve them well for a while. Inevitably they will experience a major setback, such as a lost sale caused by their failure to consult with colleagues to confirm the technical feasibility of a proposed solution.
Top sales performers refuse to be stymied by their personal limitations. They set lofty goals and find ways to achieve them on an ongoing basis. Because they recognize that they must rely on others, they establish partnerships with influential members of their civic and business communities to acquire industry knowledge and client access. They invest in building strong relationships with their company’s leaders to secure the organizational resources they need to mount successful sales campaigns. Then they leverage these relationships to recruit and lead cross-functional teams to the summit of sales success.
Remember to follow these tips and invest in your relationship with your colleagues and team; this will inevitably help you advance in your career as a top performing salesman or saleswoman down the line.
When you work in Sales, you must act as a “guide” to your clients and ensure you’re demonstrating the skills and attitude they require to trust you. Developing the foundation for a long-lasting, solid relationship is crucial and sets the tone for the interactions you have with your clients; these simple tips will help you grow a strong connection with the people you do business with.
When you meet with clients, encourage them to speak openly about their challenges, needs, and concerns. Ask leading, open-ended questions that tease out every detail of every problem as well as their perceived implications. You can’t earn your client’s trust and serve as their guide without first knowing where they think they need to go. Listen and be patient. You’ll soon get your chance to shine!
On the mountain, guides are masters of planning and preparation. The same is true in sales. Carefully map out all of your questions well in advance of the meeting. Make sure they address every individual’s specific concerns, roles, and responsibilities. But don’t stop there. Practice your questions so you can focus on listening, not speaking. Take careful notes. Make the meeting count.
In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler recommends you spend time acknowledging your client’s perceptions and initially show restraint in expressing your own ideas, although you may be nearly ready to explode with proposed solutions! In doing so, you’re establishing the groundwork for a sturdy relationship based on mutual trust.
This video finds the Everest climbers at the base of Lhotse, which is part of the Everest Massif. Here, Phil, the group’s guide, speaks about climbers’ desire to take short-cuts up the mountain—whether it’s by skipping acclimatization, or by taking a dangerous path up the mountainside rather than zigging and zagging to keep it safe and manageable.
Leadership speaker Susan Ershler, who has climbed the Seven Summits—the world’s highest mountains—has also reached peak performance in the business world. During her keynote speeches to Fortune 500 companies, Susan describes the importance of creating a plan for success that allows you to practice and optimize your habits—and the importance of not trying to take “short-cuts” to the top, leaving yourself vulnerable for costly missteps.
Successful climbers know they must “approach the trek with Intention.” They carry sufficient weight to prepare for the physical demands ahead and make sure to acclimatize their bodies gradually to the changing altitude. Most importantly, they begin the mental transition from trekker to climber that prepares them to summit the highest mountains in the world. Sue and her partner John arrived at Base Camp healthy, fit, and prepared for the challenges ahead. Thanks to their yearlong process of projection and preparation, they were ready to execute climbing Everest.
You must get to a mountain before you can climb it. In sales, prospecting is the trek that takes you to an opportunity. Traditional prospecting methods, such as cold calls, mailings, and special events, should be considered, depending on the types of products and services you’re selling. It’s also helpful to devote time each day to developing new client relationships. But, don’t forget to reach out to your existing clients too! You’ve invested a great deal of time and energy into developing these relationships and these clients are your best source of new business. Yet too often, sales reps overlook this simple fact, focusing almost exclusively on finding new clients while neglecting existing ones.
A little excerpt from Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: “Top performers work hard to strengthen their relationships, connecting with their clients on an ongoing basis to ensure they understand their emerging needs. They update their Account Plans so they can anticipate and pursue new sales opportunities. They know that maintaining a high level of customer touch is a surefire way to meet and exceed their quota.”
Are you ready to take the first step toward your own summit of achievement?
If so, take out two blank three-by-five inch cards. Stop and think for a moment. What would be the greatest personal achievement you could possibly imagine for yourself? What would be the greatest professional achievement? Write down both of them on one of the cards. This is your Vision Card. Think big and get ready to live your dream. Continue reading “3 Cards that Can Make or Break Your Success”→