Simply put, 100 percent of the top performers prepare, while imposters are content to improvise. This is not just true in business; you see it in everything from sports to politics and the performing arts.
Olympic gymnasts train thousands of hours for four minutes of competition. Political candidates spend millions of dollars crafting a message for a 30-second television ad. And bands that have been around for decades still rehearse for shows because they aren’t willing to leave anything to chance. Companies that do business development right make it a priority to strategically prepare their personnel for sales opportunities with the same sense of purpose.
In the business world, like everywhere else, imposters can do a very good job disguising themselves as professionals. Just as the race participant who’s been sitting on the couch for the last six months can still show up in the best running gear, imposters can dress the part and talk the talk. In fact, many business owners have wasted valuable time and money hiring imposters who looked the part. They may ace the job interview, but when it comes to the sales process they’ll neglect preparation, throwing out buzz words and jargon instead of meaningful content. They’ll send the same email to a thousand prospects and expect a response. The business owner who mistakenly chooses the imposter for a sales rep has no hope of doing business development right.
Professionals, on the other hand, will prepare their sales presentations to the point where they sound natural, not rehearsed. They’ll not only be able to connect well with the prospect, but they’ll also bring meaningful content to the interaction.
At a networking event, the imposter will walk into a room and talk about himself to anyone who will listen. He’ll give and collect as many cards as possible and pat himself on the back afterward for having such a productive day. In contrast, the professional will research beforehand who will be attending the event, and he’ll often make contact with key people ahead of time to let them know he is looking forward to meeting them. He will ask the organizers to introduce him to his priority prospects, and he’ll be prepared with a meaningful message explaining why meeting with him will make the prospect’s life better. He also exchanges cards, but he follows up within 24 hours to solidify the next step in the relationship.