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You once wanted to be an astronaut?   (But here you are, in a sales career)

By Eric Warner

President, Praxis Growth Advisors – Sandler Sales Training Boston and Consulting

A friend recommended An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth Col. Chris Hadfield.  Great read!   When I was six, and thinking I’d be an astronaut, I had NO IDEA how much is involved in getting to and then living in outer space.

It’s crazy hard work.  The people who succeed are very talented, extremely bright, and can endure enormous amounts of physical stress; plus, they are incredibly determined.   (Take the millions of kids who’ve dreamed of space travel… and only 12 have walked on the moon, 200 have lived in a space station and 560 people in total actually became astronauts.)

 Plus, think what you are signing up for!  Aside from the great views you are hurtling through space in a high-radiation, gravity and oxygen-free environment.  Simple tasks like teeth brushing, eating, exercising, and going to the bathroom become incredibly complicated.  It makes me wonder why my kids can’t lift the seat before using the toilet here on earth.  But I digress….

The bottom line is they have to be prepared for ANYTHING and work their tails off training, training, training… because if they don’t know every element of their spacecraft, experiments, other crewmember skills, the daily regiment and emergency procedures – the consequences are grave. 

Also, they have to be surrounded by the right process, which is tested, retested, has contingency plans, is supported, implemented, analyzed, adjusted and tested again.

So, anyway, here you are, presumably not reading this from a space station, and having chosen a (hopefully rewarding) career in sales or management.  If you were an astronaut, you’d rely on your training to stay alive.  As a sales person or manager, you rely on it to protect your livelihood. 

In sales, you have to be prepared for anything, too.  Deals fall away; products aren’t ready; customers are balking.  Sales people who are trained in a selling system rely on it to guide them and their prospects time and time again through the sales process.   The right training, the right process and the right mentoring over time help you through whatever bumps come up and nail that cold call, land the big meeting with a prospect, uncover the underlying needs, solve client problems and close the deal.

Now briefly back to outer space – I’ve been pondering another key point from Col. Hadfield; what struck me about his life as an astronaut is how he’s applied it to his everyday life.  Here’s a guy who’s survived incredible things, but still has a mindset of constantly learning, training and preparing for unforeseen events.

My management philosophy has always been Get trained – Stay educated – Be prepared – And constantly think ahead to come up with possible contingencies.  

Do you take that approach?  When it comes to training, what do you personally think is the most important thing that sales people need to learn?

 

 

 

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