We all sell something:
Ideas, methods, technologies, products, services, artistic creations….
We all need people to buy what we sell. This is a basic, unadorned truth.
Selling our products or services to people is not easy. If you would like to get better at it, or need a fresh vision, this story is for you.
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I did it.
I finally made the leap. Today was my fourth session.
I recently started doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: learn the sport of boxing. And now I have a personal trainer—a coach—just for me.
When I got up this morning, and put on my sweat suit, my body was aching. I can feel muscles I’ve never felt before. Yes sir, there they are, being stretched and worked for what seems like the very first time.
We probably all think we know how to box, more or less. So why did I get a coach to help me do something that I could have done on my own? All you have to do put your fists in front of your face and punch into the air. Start swinging, right?
I tried that and something was missing. Preparation. Technique. Commitment.
I wanted to learn how to perfectly connect to my target, I wanted to use my energy efficiently and effectively and build new muscles, to explore new ways of moving my body. And I didn’t want to develop bad habits. So, I hired a coach.
I’ll never forget the third session I had with him. That was the day I got to put on the boxing gloves.
As he held the first glove open for me, I slipped my hand into the soft interior and he wrapped the wide strap around my wrist, fastening it at the top for a perfect fit. I felt like I was entering into the select and exclusive world of professional boxers. I was absolutely titillated by the ritual…though I played it cool in front of my coach.
After I had both gloves on, he then put on the protective pads to cover his open palms and raised his hands to the level of his shoulders, creating two targets to hit. He told me to practice the front jab we’d worked on together. With my gloves raised and positioned at each side of my face I began to deliver punches to the padded hands of my coach.
After a few seconds he stopped me.
“Jenifer,” he said calmly, “you are just swinging at me; you aren’t using any technique. Don’t just swing out into the air. You need to focus.” He gestured to the pads in his hands with a movement of his eyes. “If you don’t center yourself, focus, and try to use the technique we’ve been working on, you will just exhaust yourself and use all of your energy without any results.”
As I listened to his words, I could see what I’d been doing and it almost made me laugh; it seemed like a cartoon animation. I had been trying to hit the target any way possible, just wildly swinging, punching as hard and fast as I could. Now I had to stop, center my attention and try to connect to my target with precision.
I spent the rest of the session drenched in sweat, trying to stay focused as I punched his padded hands using the technique I had been taught.
On my walk home, weaving through the people enjoying the Spring air, I was feeling very alive and alert as usually happens after a physical workout. I was also thinking about what my coach had said.
Where had I heard those words before?
“Of course,” I thought to myself with a smile. I have used those same words in sessions with my clients—helping them to connect their product to their public.
Helping them to perfect the art of selling.
The message I give goes something like this:
“If you don’t focus your attention on your targeted clients and connect to them with precision, you will exhaust yourself and use your energy without achieving clear results, without meeting your goals.”
This is what a good sales strategy and the sport of boxing have in common: focus, precision, and connection.
Let me explain:
In boxing, you must focus at all times on the pads or bag hanging in front of you. If you lose that focus you won’t make contact with your target. You can’t let anything else in the surrounding space distract your attention.
In creating a sales strategy you must focus on your specific public. First you must identify who they are—clearly define the client population that is unique for what you sell. You should not be distracted by everyone else or try to include too many people in your client group. It is important to narrow and fix your gaze.
You must be able to clearly visualize this population of people—identify their gender, age range, where they live, their professions and income range, what languages they speak, what they fear and what they value.
Then you need to keep your focus on them at all times.
In boxing, before you can deliver an effective punch, you must understand how to move your body correctly and know what exact points of the bag you’re aiming at.
In creating a sales strategy, before you can connect effectively to potential clients, it is necessary to understand what specific problems you are aiming to solve for this population of people.
You must identify what their unmet needs or desires are, and what exact points you can improve or change for them. When you can clearly define with precision how you will be relevant to and impact the lives of your potential clients, then and only then are you are perfectly positioned to sell something to them.
In boxing, when you throw a clean punch with perfect contact to the bag, it makes a unique, unmistakable sound.
In creating a sales strategy, when you use just the right words and images to communicate to your client population, they will identify with you and with what you offer. Unmistakably. They will feel connected to your project or business.
It is essential to construct language that can be easily understood and is meaningful for your potential clients and then take that content to them. Go where they are. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
Identify what means of communication they use and trust, and choose carefully how you can best reach them with the resources and time you have available. If you try to be present in too many places at the same time, you will surely drain your energy and weaken the strength of your connection. Use your time and energy wisely.
When you make a meaningful connection with a potential client, they will want what you are selling, and they’ll buy it.
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Once you practice and perfect the skill of focus, precision, and connection, it will work for you time and time again.
When I help my clients to build sales strategies to connect to their clients, I understand that a natural tendency is to come out with their arms swinging. Just like I did in my third boxing session until my coach helped me to focus and taught me to use technique.
Yeah, I’m sore these days. It’s even a little painful to lift my arms to the keyboard right now. But I know I’m learning how to build and use my strength in a new way.
Like boxing, perfecting the art of selling can be learned.
You can put your hands into perfectly fitting gloves, center yourself and deliver a smooth punch, or you can just step out and start swinging wildly into the air.
Me? I’m going to slowly get up from this chair and rub some tiger balm into a few places on my body.
I don’t know why it took me so long to begin to learn boxing. But it really doesn’t matter. The time is now.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t touch what the eyes don’t see.”
Muhammad Ali – American Boxer
Thank you to my personal trainer in Barcelona, Daniel Benites, for inspiring this story.