I couldn’t believe it – as a counselor at the blind camp I had been put in charge of archery. At the tender age of nineteen I looked at the smiling faces of about seven blind children with bows and arrows, ready to take their shot at the target. I didn’t want to say it, but in my head I was screaming, “Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?” I actually looked around to see if our camp counselor was playing a joke on me. But, no, he wasn’t.
Each participant had a “coach” helping him or her with their bow. They would describe to them where the target was, walk them to it, have them touch it, and walk them back. Somehow through that process the kids developed a sense of the target. After I stopped ducking I realized that most were incredibly accurate with their shots.
The actual story found in Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery can be found on this site under “Sales Stories.” I encourage you to read it. The lessons I derived from that day at blind camp and this story have taught me the following about sales:
1. Never underestimate the power of simply aiming to do the right thing.
2. Selling requires taking risks. If you don’t walk in that door or pick up that phone nothing is going to happen. Holding back just wears you out.
3. If you plan for an objection you will get it. Whatever you prepare for will soon exist. Don’t brace for failure, plan for success.
4. If you stare at your goals every day that’s where you heart will be, and clients will know it. Move your eyes from the numerical goal to the face of the client that needs you.
5. The best salespeople are not ego maniacs, they are truly passionate about the clients they serve. They might be driven to do the best work possible, but that’s not the same as simply wanting glory and achievement for achievement’s sake.
At the end of my camp experience, we had a talent show. I will never, ever forget one of the beautiful young students getting up to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel. Her voice was glorious, singing these words:
When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
That week changed me, as I listened to the bravery of one blind girl and watched children hit bullseyes simply because they sensed the target. We all have that ability – to sense what should be done, where the target is, and how we can help others hit that target. You see, that’s the key. It isn’t about us hitting the target, it’s about helping others hit theirs.
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