What running marathons has taught me about selling to Fortune 500 companies

I ran my first marathon when I was 20. It was at mile 18 when I understood why every runner doesn’t run marathons. It was then the marathon begins, hours in, miles and miles already run. I was drawn to sales right out of college after seeing how rewarding it can be to help people. Building relationships, connecting to people and helping them solve a problem is something that I simply enjoy.

I may be inherently competitive or I just come alive when I’m putting a challenge in front of me. Either way after 23 Marathons, the lessons I’ve learned in my running shoes continues to serve me well in my 20 years of selling.

Whether you know what it is like to run 26.2 miles or not, here is what you can practice to make your sales career successful:

1. You will need Patience & Determination to close the deal.

Going out too fast on a marathon can put you in a difficult position to finish and may result in one not being able to finish. Working with companies and forcing them away from their buying process is a recipe for failure.

A marathon is not completed in an hour and a relationship and sale is not completed in a day. Patience, determination and keeping the long term view in mind is essential.

2. Be Prepared and know the course.

Every marathon race director releases a course map that includes elevation profiles to help runners plan. Many people will tell you that a marathon starts at mile 20. Mile 20 is when most runners hit the wall. They get beat by themselves. In selling, it is not any different. Often times the sale starts after your company has been selected. This is mile 20!

You must be prepared for what is coming next. Don’t get beat by not knowing what is ahead and needs to be done.

3. Stay flexible when setbacks happen.

My football coach taught me that “athletes adjust.” Marathons often do not go as planned and selling is the same way. In running it could be for lack of training or unexpected weather. In the sales cycle it could be a Tuesday company reorg or an acquisition that slows down your deal.

Whatever it is, know that you will need to adjust and keep moving forward towards the finish line.

Paul Zicuis has learned a lot from running marathons. He has run 23 marathons and is currently challenging himself to complete one marathon in every state before he is 50. He has 10 down and 40 to go. This Sunday he will be running the Philadelphia Marathon for state number 11. His passion for running is equaled to his passion for developing relationships with clients and providing them with a solution that fits their needs.

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