The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” They preach and teach that motto to embed it into the mental makeup of their members so they will be prepared for the unknowns their adult life will challenge them with. Scouts learn to be flexible, to face and overcome challenges because they have the mental and physical preparation to extricate themselves when they are over their head and to take advantage of situations they are prepared for.
Preparation is just as important in sales as it is in scouting. The Scout goes off into the wilderness prepared with skills and tools (knife, compass, knots, canteen, etc.) to survive the unknown. The salesperson goes off into the business world needing skills and tools also (knowledge of the market, the prospects, presentation tools, technology, personal strong and weak points) and, just like the Scout, practices dealing with the challenges of the unknown.
The Scout faces danger from snakebite, insects, injury, inclement weather, getting lost, etc. He practices survival skills such as first aid, map and compass reading, building shelters, and building fires with just two sticks.
The successful salesperson faces obstacles and works to overcome them by preparation, creating and developing answers for the many questions a prospect might ask, rehearsing them to overcome objections and prepares to better communicate in an understandable manner the charts, tables, and financial forecasts to parry number-crunchers and creates and practices alternative offers to counteract the tough negotiator.
Neither the Scout nor the Salesperson knows what they will encounter on the road to survival and success in the wilderness they will encounter, but if they are to be successful, they must, “Be Prepared!” It earns Scouts the Merit Badges they proudly wear.
Preparation earns the Salesperson more sales, and typically, higher compensation. In some industries high achieving salespeople actually do earn a form of merit badge when they are awarded designations such as becoming members of a “Million Dollar Roundtable” or earn a professional designation, but I’m advocating that they be recognized by their companies to further compensate them for their preparation, their ambition, drive, and persistence.
If preparation is a key to success in sales, just as it is a key to success in scouting and life, reward the high achievers who go out into their own wilderness and become better prepared. They role play the selling situation, have learned to counter tough questions and negotiate in difficult situations. They have earned their Merit Badges.