There was a salesperson in my territory who I continually found myself competing with for new business. This salesperson was attractive, aggressive, and professional. Any prospect who met this salesperson was immediately blown away, impressed beyond belief. During the first sales call.
When this salesperson showed up for the second sales call, their performance wasn’t nearly as impressive. The salesperson was still attractive on the outside, and still aggressive. But they were topen aggressive and somewhat less professional. Still, this salesperson won clients.
The longer this salesperson worked with a client, the less impressive they were. In fact, clients found this salesperson to be annoying and overbearing, nothing like their earlier experience. At some point, clients no longer wanted to work with this salesperson, and another person was hired to do all of the follow-up work with clients as a way to prevent churning what were essentially new clients.
In sales, as in many other endeavors, there are plow horses and there are show horses.
Show horses look really good, but they’re rather fragile. You would never use a show horse to plow a field. A plow horse is different. It’s not quite so pretty, but the amount of work it does is impressive. If you need to results, you need a plow horse.
Some salespeople believe that the real action is in the boardroom, standing on their feet, going toe-to-toe with tough decision-makers over challenging scenarios. Some, like the salesperson in the story above, know all the right things to say and do on the first visit and are magnificent for a couple sales calls. Show horses fade, and when they fade, they fade fast.
A plow horse is impressive over a longer period. They’re craftsmen and craftswomen who focus on transformational results that are more impressive and more interesting than drawing attention to themselves. They’re deeper in knowledge, deeper in experience, and deeper in expertise than the show horse, and they outwork and outlast the show horse, who is more focused on first impressions.
What is really impressive is the ability to be impressive for more than a few minutes.