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The Dream vs Reality


Written for The Nova Scotia Business Journal
Some people dream of standing on the podium, winning accolades and attention at the Olympics. The dream is a great starting point. But when you watch the Olympics, be aware that the reality of what those podium dwellers went through. It didn’t happen simply because of the dream. How many of us are willing to engage in the relentless pursuit of excellence and competitiveness to do whatever is necessary to get to the top of the game? Olympians make it look seamless, but we don’t see the years of work, struggle, disappointments, pain, losses, risk and sacrifice invested.

Are there professions that are seen as more highly competitive than sales? Do all salespeople have that competitive spirit deeply ingrained in their psyche? Often salespeople don’t appear to fit the accepted definition of competitive – that hard-bitten drive to win at all costs, aggressively and with a single mindedness that excludes all else.

Like the competitive athlete, great salespeople do what is necessary to win. They have a high degree of willingness to prepare. They invest the time and energy to ensure they are at the top of their game. They learn all they can about their product, their market and their competition. They study the art, and science of the sales process. They are never satisfied with the ‘bare minimum’, but go above and beyond in preparation and execution. They are also willing to learn and take direction. They do the right thing, and do things right.

Also like athletes, practice is so engrained in great salespeople that they continue to do so even after they appear to have ‘made it’. One salesperson who has built her business to the point where referrals come in so regularly that they will sustain her business growth into the future, shared that she continues to regularly cold call and network to reach out to new prospects. She says: “what if I changed products or markets or there are unforeseen changes? I wouldn’t have the contacts to sustain referrals so I’d better keep my skills sharp.” She continues to be an ‘all round’ not a ‘one dimensional’ salesperson.

At 86 years of age, the Renaissance painter, sculptor, scientist, writer and brilliant inventor Michelangelo wrote on the edge of a manuscript, Ancora Imparo – Latin for I am still learning – still investing in his craft. Competition takes work. What are we willing to invest?

©2012 Sandler Training Inc. ( is an international sales and management training/consulting firm. For a free copy of Why Salespeople Fail And What To Do About It, call Sandler Training at (902)468-0787 or e-mail

Eric Fry

Sandler trainer