We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” meaning greatness takes time. Given that truth, it is doubtful in this day and age that Rome would be built at all, since our society seems to value speed, ease and convenience above all else. Is our desire for instant gratification productive? Appropriate? If we are trying to find a restaurant or shopping online for socks, yes. But if we are trying to build something of long-term significance for sales success (customer relationships) or cultivate our own excellence (professional development, service excellence, selling with insight), we need to set our sights beyond the here and now.
Malcolm Gladwell is a huge proponent of investing time and effort to achieve greatness. In his book, Outliers, Gladwell introduces the concept of the “10,000-hour rule,” which asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill. With examples that include Mozart, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods and The Beatles, it’s hard to argue with his logic. But a long-term investment of time isn’t just about honing our skills or creating something exceptional, it’s also about developing our own fortitude. It takes time to develop resilience – a long process of trying, failing, learning, growing, and along the way, improving. Hall-of-fame-level sales professionals always have tales of failure and hardship woven throughout their success stories.
Our reality as sales professionals requires that we meet, and where possible, exceed customer expectations – including minimal turnaround and “ambitious” deadlines. If we are honest, we will admit that customers sometimes cheat themselves out of our best – products, services, customer service – via their own demands for instant gratification. The “I-want-it-now” mentality pervading our society is a fact of life. That doesn’t mean we have to short change our own long-term quest for greatness in our customer relationships, professional development and sales success.