Years ago I used to fish a lot with my best friend.  He was a natural fisherman I thought.  He always seemed to know where the fish were and how to catch them.  He always used the right lure and technique.  He went on the best weather days for success.  He had a great boat set up for catching fish.

No matter how hard I tried I could never keep up with his success.

I bought the same boat.  I got and took his advice on rods, reels, lures and other equipment.  We fished together a lot and I watched his techniques and matched his lures.  I learned a great deal from him about catching fish.  I became a decent fisherman but no matter what I did I could not match his success!

Recently, I was spending time with one of our sales people.  He was commenting after a few calls that I always seemed to know just the right thing to say, or the best way to say it.  He noticed that I could “play off of” just about anything the prospect said to bring home a point about our business.  He commented that he tries to do these things but it requires effort, whereas he noticed that with me it seems effortless.

This conversation made me think of my best friend and why he was so much better at fishing than I was.  After years of fishing together this superiority of ability of his compared to me had begun to really bother me.  I looked deeper into why he was so good in comparison to me.  I knew he might just have a natural “talent” but I didn’t think that was the whole story.

I began to notice that he would call me at the office to tell me a fishing story.  He’d been to a pond that day.  Or he’d fished a different lake on a weekend.   He seemed to always be fishing!

Then it struck me!  He was better than I was because he was more intensely focused on fishing than I was.  He wasn’t just an imitator of someone else’s techniques he was an experimenter with his own and a learner from simply putting a lot of time and effort in.

I think that’s the difference between my new salesman and me.  I’ve spent my life selling things.  I’ve tried thousands of things and watched what happened.  And I’ve learned as a result how to catch sales.  It’s easy!

But I remember something else from those conversations with my friend.  Often he had been fishing – and caught nothing at all!  Even though he’d been unsuccessful he always had a theory on why that had happened and he learned from it.  Sales success is the same I think.  The more we practice the better we get.  The more failure we have the better we get.  The more success we have the better we get.

The more we are selling the more we sell.  As my fisherman friend says “you don’t catch any fish when your lure isn’t in the water!”

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