What if the story of The Tortoise and The Hare didn’t end after the tortoise won?
The hare having lost one of the most famous races in history, eventually gathered up his dignity and asked for a rematch.
“This time I’ll be careful,” he told himself. “I won’t get distracted and let overconfidence get in the way of success.”
He trained hard, not so much for speed and stamina, because he understood that these weren’t his problems, but for focus and determination.
On the day of the race, he showed up at the starting line half an hour early to find the tortoise taking a nap in the shade.
Just before the start time, he was woken up and joined the hare at the starting line.
The race started and, once again, the hare was off, quickly putting a significant distance between himself and the tortoise who was moving along at a slow and steady pace.
Instead of thinking about how easy the race was so far, the hare kept his focus, ignoring the tempting vegetables that were growing along the path, and sped on.
Suddenly, the finish line was in front of him. He crossed it and the other animals cheered. He’d won.
Meanwhile, very far behind, the tortoise moved slowly and steadily on. It was a beautiful day and he was enjoying the warmth of the sun on his shell and the peacefulness of the woodlands.
He spoke to the other animals who were dotted along the path – watching him curiously as he walked on.
Quite some time later he crossed the white line that had been marked as the finish line. There were only a couple of animals left, waiting for his arrival.
One of them piped up, “I’m afraid you lost this time.” The hare won hours ago. The race is over.”
The tortoise answered, “Race? What race?”
What can The Tortoise and the Hare’s rematch teach you about succeeding in sales?
1. Get Back Up
It would have been pretty demoralising for the hare to have lost the first race.
He’d been the favourite by a long way and really had no excuses for losing. Imagine the comments from the other animals!
However, he took the result on the chin and asked for a rematch.
When we don’t succeed at something, such as closing a “certain” deal or hitting a sales target, it can be hard to get back up and go for the next deal. Particularly if other people knew about it and expected you to do it.
Instead of wanting to give up, the best thing can do is pick yourself and keep going.
You won’t win every race or close every deal but if you keep going you will ultimately succeed.
However, if you give up you have no chance of succeeding.
The hare could have retired from racing with a record of 0-1, instead, he’s now 1-1.
So, even if you fail to close the easiest sale on the planet, it doesn’t matter. Get up. Learn from it, as the hare did. And keep on moving.
This is known as resilience and is a fundamental skill for successful salespeople.
The first race became an aberration in the hare’s racing career, rather than his career-defining moment.
2. Put Your Best Foot Forward
The hare would have known that as long as he didn’t stop for a nap as he did in the first race, he’d most likely win the rematch.
He beat himself in the first race and there was no way that was going to happen again.
While he wasn’t up against the stiffest competition, he still put his best foot forward and ran the race to the best of his ability.
If you have an “easy” prospect that you don’t need a lot of effort to close, it can be tempting to cruise and not put in all your effort.
Sure, that might get the result now. But what about the future?
If someone is that easy to close, then they are probably desperate and have very few or no other options than the solution you’re selling.
It won’t always be like that and the prospect will pick up whether you are putting your best foot forward.
Next time, will they come back to you? Maybe not.
You also don’t know who they know.
Ultimately, regardless of how small or unimportant a particular sale may seem, you have no idea what it may develop into – whether through repeat business and/or business referrals.
3. Win Your Race
In the final line of the story, the tortoise responded to the animals still at the finish line, “Race? What race?”
We don’t have to all run the same race.
For the tortoise, his “race” was a success. He enjoyed a beautiful stroll through the woodlands which, judging from his question at the end, was exactly want he had set out to achieve.
From the hare’s point of view, he wanted to cross the finish line first, which he did. He won his race.
It is important to work out what you want to achieve, what success looks like to you, and how you are going to measure yourself against this.
Then go out and run (and win) your own race. Not someone else’s.
If the goal was to finish the race, then both the tortoise and the hare did this. Just in very different ways!
Overall, like the original story, The Tortoise and The Hare’s rematch has some good lessons.
Be resilient, even in the face of a seemingly “public failure”. The only way you will succeed is if you get back up.
You never know the potential of what might seem an unimportant sale, so you should always put your best foot forward.
Finally, run your own race. Choose what works for you and go for it.
We have a number of events and programmes specifically designed to help salespeople and business consistently reach the finish line. Get in touch to find out more.
Sharn Piper – CEO Attain NZ
Hi, I’m Sharn, and I love nothing more than getting that ecstatic phone call from a client who has just smashed their sales targets after a session with Attain.
Over the course of my career I’ve led numerous sales teams, built multiple successful businesses and learnt how to craft a sales process that is robust, repeatable and produces consistent results.
I love a challenge and have acquired a reputation for being quick to get to the core of the issue and find out-of-the-box solutions to unleash better sales. These skills have proven useful time and time again as I’m approached to boost the results of high-performing teams wanting to take business to a whole new level.