Achieving success in business, and specifically sales, can be extremely difficult. Statistically, we all know that only a small percentage of businesspeople ever really make a great living. It’s amusing, really. On the surface, being a successful businessperson is a fairly simple concept — Go out there and meet people! Have a conversation about your product to find out if they are looking to buy or sell, or if they know anyone looking to buy or sell, and then find out if they’ll work with you! Unfortunately, however, most businesspeople either forget the basics, are unwilling to do the basics, or think there’s a better way…
There’s this adorable little creature called the bushy-tailed woodrat. (It’s so cute!) It has large round ears, super long whiskers, a tiny little nose and a bushy tail like a squirrel. One of the more common names for them is a “pack rat”. Woodrats make nests. Their nests contain all kinds of natural materials so that it can be a functional nest for the animal, however, the woodrat not only gathers natural materials into its nest, but also shiny objects or anything it can find. I read stories of all kinds of crazy shiny objects that have been found in its nest: tinfoil and bottle caps to watches and diamonds.
One behavior of the woodrat that is very interesting gives this little rodent another common name — a “trade rat”. Sometimes, the woodrat will find an object it likes and picks it up. The intent (because I speak woodrat) is to bring that prized object into the nest. However, on the way to the nest, the woodrat might spy an object it seems to like even better. Instead of noting the location of this second desirable object and completing the task of bringing the first object to the nest, Mr. Trade Rat will drop the treasure first found and pick up the second — leaving the first behind. This behavior can happen several times on the way back to the nest.
The woodrat may have had a perfectly wonderful addition for the nest but gets distracted by the next shiny object it sees. Consequently, the first item is dropped and is — completely forgotten. The second object may not last any longer.
If we speak metaphorically about a successful person’s business, their nest should be made with the materials that make a good nest: prospecting, following up, making appointments and signing contracts. What successful businesspeople do is hone in on certain key things in each of these categories and stay consistent and persistent in these activities and practices. Their nest becomes strong and produces desired results.
However, apparently businesspeople can be known to be pack rats. Instead of building their business with the materials it takes to build a strong foundation, they clutter their nests with all kinds of shiny objects.
I get it. The shiny objects are so pretty. Prospecting and following up, for example, are not so pretty. New apps and promises of Internet leads seem so sparkly — enchanting, really.
Many businesspeople have actually heard the truth: You need to get out there and prospect! Make face-to-face and over-the-phone contacts with new people so you can find those buyers and sellers willing to work with you! But then, Mr. Trade Rat salesperson, while carrying that truth back to their nest, gets distracted…by an appealing, colorful, easier, shinier object and end up dropping the first for the second.
David is one of our sons who is now 19. When he was 4, he played baseball. Sometimes David would be very interested in the game…sometimes. However, there would be a butterfly…or a bee…or a dragonfly…or something really interesting in the grass, and then suddenly the game just wasn’t important at all. To watch this from the sidelines was super entertaining. We always laughed at the fact and now have a great story to tell.
Take it from us! When we are watching from the sidelines at some businesspeople jumping through the fields of sales business, trying to catch the butterflies, only to be distracted by the shiny object — it’s not so cute.
Don’t think of it as boring to prospect, prospect, follow up and repeat — over and over and over again. Those are the activities that are the building blocks to a lucrative career. Get focused! Be tenacious!
And above all else, don’t be a bushy-tailed woodrat.