What are the Rules of the Game for Success Here?

Last weekend, I flipped the channels between my alma mater’s (James Madison University) college baseball regional playoff and the Cincinnati Reds game. As I flipped, I came across an episode of Yellowstone.

I stopped to see what episode it was as I had seen the entire series. It was the episode about the meeting over Yellowstone’s future. When it looks like the tract of land will be condemned, John Dutton reminds Roarke that he doesn’t understand the rules of the game he is about to play. Ultimately, Roarke, and his team are unsuccessful.

I paused for a moment and thought about that statement. How often have I been in a game where I didn’t understand the rules?

I was an umpire and referee for many years and knew the rules as I had to memorize them to officiate the game. But the rules in athletic events are laid out with some interpretation. But in life, the game is total uncertainty.

Early in my sales career, I had many ” learning experiences.” I lost more than I won. I followed the “sales process” I had learned through my company’s training. And sometimes that worked but as the more you lose, the more you reflect on every stage of the “sales process” to see where you can improve and realize you really don’t understand the “rules of the game” you are playing.

And if you want to succeed and be a top producer, you better learn the rules quickly.

Then you have a “Come to Jesus” moment and realize, that it’s not a “sales process”, it’s a “buying process,” and you have to learn the rules of the game for each client’s process.

When you are working on a complex business opportunity, there are many players involved which means you have to learn the “rules” for each of the key buyers. And one thing I learned is that I had to develop my game plan for each of buyers and understand their rules.

Many times, a traditional model I had learned early in my sales career did not work. I had to develop my process of understanding the rules of the game I was about to play. Once I did, is when I started my journey to be a top producer.

Rinse and Repeat.

The first process was the ” A to I” process I shared in my blog The strategy to Selling in a Post-Trust World. Access to Influence, “The Real AI, developing Authentic Interactions.”

The next process is something that I was doing but didn’t have a name for it until I started my journey with Strategic Coach, and they teach, “finding your Who’s for your How’s.” I had a process to develop coaches, advocates, and sponsors who were my ” Tenzing Norgay‘s.” A “sherpa” that would guide me to understand the rules of the company I was about to engage with, and their buying process.

Third, I invested in what Henry Ford did to become Henry Ford. He focused on specialized knowledge and left the general knowledge to those who were the experts. I didn’t invest a lot of time and effort to know how all the technology worked, I had people much smarter than I that could explain it. I focused on knowing enough about the industry and company to understand what problems they need to be solved; building the blocks for a creative solution.

I didn’t win every time but when I lost, I looked back and realized when I missed one of these steps or followed a game plan that didn’t include these, it usually didn’t go well.

One thing I have learned about being an entrepreneur is, I can make my own rules for my company.

Make your habits then your habits make you.

One of the greatest lessons out of the Miracle on the Hudson was being around people who did what Henry Ford did, employ specialized knowledge to make the decisions that changed a potentially deadly situation into a situation that will be remembered and studied for years to come.

A Captain who knew the geography and learned how to glide a plane and employed that specialized knowledge to get the plane into a situation where the crew and passengers had a chance for survival.

Crew, passengers, and first responders who had specialized knowledge of how to get out of a sinking plane, manage mindset, and creative rescue choices.

Writing and executing the rules for the success of surviving a plane crash in hostile water.

As you go into your next business opportunity, ask yourself, ” Do I know the rules of the game for success in this opportunity?” Each opportunity stands on its own. Each may have similarities but you need to have a process to give yourself the best opportunity for success.

First, remember it’s a buying process, it’s not a sales process.

Next, employ the A to I strategy, and build authentic relationships within your prospective opportunity. Start with the personal win for the person. When you do, and if you do your job, they will ultimately share with you the business win.

Then ” find your sherpa.” As I learned when I went back into the Hudson River to swim with the Navy SEALS, you need a wingman to get across the river. As Dan Sullivan teaches and I employ, ‘find your who’s for your how’s.’

Invest in specialized knowledge. Employ others who have the general and technical knowledge to answer those questions. Focus on knowing enough about the industry and company to understand what problems they need solved; building the blocks for a creative solution.

When you do this, you will have a process for EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY, which will IGNITE NEW OPPORTUNITIES, and you will start to REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR LIFE AND BUSINESS!