7 Ways to Stay Sharp in Sales ... or how to catch your first monkey

One of my very good friends leads a top performing sales organization selling financial services out of Boise Idaho. His team is consistently rated as the top producing office in North America for his company. We are always exchanging ideas on selling, challenging each other on philosophies and suffice it to say, his past performance has always caused me to listen intently to what he has to say.

I have no idea if the story he told me is true or not. He has played a practical joke or two in his day. Short of travelling to Africa, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Even if there is a bit of embellishment to the story, it is a great tell with an insightful message.

In Africa, as Charles tells it, the natives have a clever way to catch monkeys. They take a coconut shell, cut a small hole in one end, and hollow it out. The hole is just big enough to allow a monkey's hand to enter.

Then they attach a string to the other end of the coconut shell, place some peanuts inside, put the shell in the middle of a clearing and hide themselves behind a tree until a monkey comes.

The monkey smells the peanuts inside the shell ... it reaches in to grab the peanuts ... but when it does, its fist, full with peanuts, is too large to pull back through the hole.

The natives start pulling on the string and reel the silly monkey in. Why, because the monkey will not let go of those peanuts to save his life. All the monkey would have to do is let go of the peanuts. He doesn't, as he has to have the peanuts.

I'm thinking there may be some truth to his story. I did a Google search "catch a monkey using a coconut" and found one hit on a bladder cancer website that included an article on relaxation that references an African legend, where they do they catch monkeys using coconuts with a banana inside. Seriously!

So let's assume this monkey catching technique works. Chances are if you're like me, you'll never get a chance to try it out. I don't recommend you doing this at your local zoo!

So why tell the story? Do you find yourself grasping a fist full of peanuts? Do you ever get hold of something and not let go? Do you want the peanuts so badly that you fail to consider other alternatives to achieve your goal? Are you flexible and effective in your thinking? Are you prepared to try other methodologies and techniques? Do you seek out others for advice? Do you use your power of observation on those who are successful?

I believe one of Charles' greatest strengths is his ability to make things simple. Once he has done this, he shares the basics for success with his team. He then walks the talk and leads by example. He believes in his people, they believe in him. He's the type of leader that wouldn't use coconuts to capture monkeys, he'd sit down with them, and using his big smile and power of persuasion, have them convinced they should simply follow him home. They probably would!

Charles goes on to offer some simple advice on how to "get the peanuts." I wonder if this is the basics of sales success.

1.Always be prospecting. "Everyone is an opportunity for new business or a referral."
2.Keep the calendar full of appointments. "A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest."
3.Be proficient in your presentation skills. "Confidence sells."
4.Your customers are a gold mine for future business. "Treat them right and they will take care of you."
5.Set stretch goals. "Great things happen to those who make things happen."
6.Hard work is just that. "Honest intelligent effort is always rewarded."
7.Have fun. "Enjoy what you do and you'll be good at it."

Great advice Charles, thanks for sharing. Wishing you continued success!

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