In a recent article I mentioned the importance of “sharpening the saw” from a concept which Steven Covey talks about. Due to requests I have included the story below which illustrates the importance of taking time out to refresh and sharpen your selling skills.

There were two forestry workers, who were very competitive axemen, who decided they would have a wood chopping competition to see who was the fittest and the better axeman. The rules were simple – whoever chopped the most wood on the day would be declared the undisputed winner. Both were perched a fair distance from each other – barely able to see the figure of the other person. The chopping commenced at dawn. From time to time they both took a look at each other to see how much wood was being chopped. By mid morning the contest was closed.

One of the axemen stopped for about 20 minutes. The other kept chopping to gain an advantage. During mid-day the axeman who took a break in the morning took another break. I’m sure the other guy was thinking, “I’ll get him now”.

They kept chopping. In the middle of the afternoon the break-meister took still another break. The other guy just kept chopping. When the sun had set, the axeman who hadn’t stopped once looked at what he had chopped and felt he had the advantage. He walked some distance to greet his opponent. When he had arrived – he almost went into shock at the sight of the opponent’s chopped wood – which was substantially more than his own. He grumbled, “How did this happen, you stopped chopping three times for breaks and lunch, while I kept chopping. I just don’t understand what happened.” In a soft and deliberate voice the winner said “yes I did stop three times, but you see, it was to sharpen my axe.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a big tree, I’d take two hours to sharpen my axe.” You don’t have to be Abraham Lincoln to sharpen your axe.

There are a lot of impersonators out there – pretending to be professional salespeople. They are devoid of any selling skills and basic fundamentals and certainly wouldn’t dream of spending any of their own money on personal development.

Every day you’d better make it a priority to read books and articles, listen to CD’s while driving from account to account, sharpening your axe, (I mean your selling skills) improving your attitude and developing mini-systems, creating your own competitive advantage. The simple truth is, if you don’t sharpen your axe, you could be working with a dull blade and worse still working for the opposition i.e. presenting to prospects and priming them for your competitors to close. The key point to all this is we need to be constantly looking at better ways to improve our skills in whichever field we choose to work if we are to retain our competitive advantage.

The benefits are:

Sales Confidence
– Bigger closing ratios
– Increased Profits

Staff Retention
– Client continuity
– Reduced costs of recruitment

Reduced costs to make sales e.g. higher conversion ratio
– Focused prospecting
– Higher qualified referrals

Many companies can’t find money for training yet spend thousands on advertising and marketing to try to attract new business, instead of converting higher percentage of enquiries they are already receiving.

I will continue with this topic in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

Winners evaluate themselves in a positive manner and look for their strengths as they work to overcome weaknesses.

Zig Ziglar

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group Limited.