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Determination is Key

Sales advice from Gulfshore Business Associate Publisher Rob Wardlaw



Successful salespeople know that determination is one of the key ingredients to their success. Over the years, I’ve worked with colleagues who were determined well beyond their actual knowledge or other ability, and I believe that this character trait helped drive their sales to much higher levels than that of their peers.

Determination can take many forms. Take this story, from an experience I shared with several coworkers when we were members of a corporate bowling league.

One year, our company Christmas party was scheduled on the same night as our corporate bowling league. Our team, the “10 Pins,” was undefeated that season, and this night we would bowl for the league championship. Obviously, there was a conflict here—the company party was considered mandatory. In speaking with my bowling teammates in the days before the party, we hatched a scheme that we would be able to do both—attend the Christmas party and be able to arrive in time to bowl at the league. I guess you could say that we took our bowling as seriously as our jobs and our obligation to the company to attend the party.

This particular party started at 3 p.m. and was scheduled to run until 7 p.m. My team and I needed to leave no later than 6:30 to arrive at the league’s home alley on time. It was hard to leave promptly, and we knew we were cutting the time close to arrive at 7. The league had a rule that any team arriving more than 15 minutes late would forfeit. But to be safe, we each needed to make sure that we were seen around the bar and on the dance floor before making an exit from the party.

We arrived after 7, knowing we were late, and the gentleman who administered our league informed us that we would be forced to forfeit in less than 2 minutes if we did not present ourselves on the lane ready to bowl. Now, we were just arriving from a party, not exactly in the frame of mind to bowl at that precise moment—the men were wearing suits, ties and dress shoes, and the ladies were in dresses and high heels. Somehow, one of the women on our team thought to grab an alley bowling ball, walk to our lane, approach the line, and bowl the ball between her legs. That bought the rest of us time to get to the locker room, change clothes, and pull ourselves together to bowl.

I will always remember that night. We bowled exceptionally well, despite partying for hours beforehand, and nearly missing the time cutoff that would lead to forfeit. Our opponents mocked us when we came in late, laughing and in a party mode. We weren’t in top form—but with concentration, staying calm, regaining focus, and momentum—we won this match and ultimately league trophies.

Salespeople will do well to keep a positive, can-do attitude along with a determined state of mind. Do not give up easily. As you know, closing a sale is generally a difficult under- taking. Many times, the sale you are seeking is just over the horizon. My bowling teammate who calmly bowled her first frame between her legs saw the urgency of the situation and took action. Despite some small embarrassment, the end result was a big win. If you’ve lived a similar situation, you know what I mean. For others, your determination to win and succeed will happen and you’ll know it when you see it. 

Rob Wardlaw is the associate publisher of Gulfshore Business magazine, robw@gulfshorebusiness.com. 

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