This time of year, Americans are thankful to the Pilgrims for starting a tradition that paved the way for our beloved Thanksgiving holiday; but the Pilgrims deserve thanks for other reasons as well. In his blog, Thanksgiving Tips: 9 Great Business Skills Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Pilgrims, author Alan Hall, discusses business skills modeled by the Pilgrims. The four skills below are particularly relevant for sales professionals worldwide.
1. Take Risks: The Pilgrims took on a risky feat when they decided to leave nearly everything behind and sail across the sea to start afresh in the New World. Oftentimes, as sales professionals, we want to stay where we are because we get comfortable with pursuing the same accounts. But, in order to be successful as sales professionals, we need to expand by finding new clients. This process can be risky as it requires navigating unknown waters in regards to meeting new contacts and familiarizing ourselves with new organizational needs and buying behaviors. But, as we can learn from the Pilgrims, taking a step out of our comfort zones can lead to great success in a new place.
2. Set Goals: You can’t take on a risky venture without having plans in place. The Pilgrims had an ultimate objective for setting sail, and they had plans in place for how they were going to reach the New World. Likewise, in sales, we have to have a plan in place for how we are going to sell to a particular customer. Going into a sales presentation blind, without properly planning a presentation that is tailored to our customer’s particular needs, can be ineffective and ultimately unsuccessful.
3. Be Flexible: While it is essential to have goals and plans in place, this doesn’t mean that we will reach our goals exactly according to plan. The Pilgrims’ goal was to land near Virginia’s Hudson River, but instead, they landed far off course, near Cape Cod. Landing on a different shore, however, didn’t stop the Pilgrims from building their colony at Plymouth Rock. As sales professionals, this teaches us that, just because we may encounter obstacles to our plan along the way (e.g., we find through listening to a customer that the original customer need [Gap] we had planned for actually isn’t the real need [Gap] after all) doesn’t mean that we can no longer reach the proper solution. We just have to allow ourselves room to be flexible and adapt our plan as needed.
4. Work Hard: Surviving in a new land and building a colony from scratch took a lot of hard work, and the Pilgrims were able to prosper because of the work they put in. Likewise, as sales professionals, we have to have the ambition to always keep going, even when we encounter setbacks.
The Pilgrims were a tenacious people whose experiences set forth an example of best practices for us to follow. As sales professionals, we can be grateful for what we have learned from the Pilgrims, not just at Thanksgiving, but always.