Amateur vs. Professional


(click link above for printable poster)

One of my very good friends owns an electrical service company, one of the best in the nation based on volume, located here in North Texas where we live.  He and I met when my son joined his son’s baseball team a couple of years ago.  You can tell a lot about a parent by the way their kids treat them, and that tells you a lot about the kid as well.  Long before I got to know my buddy, Mark, I knew that I liked his son.  He is a leader, works hard at practice, treats his teammates with respect, controls his emotions…he’s just a quality human, not to mention a very good baseball player.

As Mark and his wife became friends with Jan and I, I could tell that the “apple didn’t fall far from the tree”.  He and his wife are just good, genuine people who are always looking for a way to be of service to the people around them.   That “servant” attitude has been the common denominator in his company’s success too, by the way.   Once he found out what I did, the training that I had been doing in dealerships focusing on more than just creating profits, following a proce, but internalizing that effort to become a more quality person wholly, he asked me to look at his operation and think of ways that we could work together and apply what I had been doing in the automotive industry to the electrical service industry.

He set up space in his headquarters where I could office, and made me a part of his operation.  I was instantly accepted by his people, who were all looking for ways to improve in their craft.  That is the culture that he had developed over the years; “We are all growing together as individuals, and [consequently] as an organization.”

There is a sign in the conference room where his technicians, dispatchers, managers and foremen meet every day that says, “Amateurs practice till they get it right, professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.”

In a service industry like that, where people need something fixed, that is still the common denominator in the best companies; practice.  Professional sports are always a great example of the need to continually practice (prior to game time) and get better at executing the mission of the team, the game plan.  It always boils down to the fundamentals, the basics.

In sales, we differentiate ourselves as an industry from service industries; however think about how many things we have in common?  In the service industry, they know the need going in, that is why they have been called to a person’s house, or why a customer is in their service drive.  The “needs awareness” is obvious so providing “needs satisfaction” is a little easier.  There still has to be value established though; value in the technician, the service itself, and the organization, or people will look for someone else to pay for that service.

In the sales industry “needs awareness” is not as obvious; sometimes it is actually kept from us, because our customer’s don’t want to yield any room for negotiating, or because the customer is afraid that “needs awareness” will result in them being taken advantage of.  That is the thing that sets sales professionals apart from service professionals; our ability to identify needs and attach value to our ability to satisfy that need.

My question for you is this, are you an amateur or a professional?  Are you practicing your presentation until you get it right, or are you practicing it till you can’t get it wrong?  Objection handling, interview, rebuttals,…are you so good at these that you can’t be beat, or are you good enough that you can do it most of the time?

Be professional; that investment in yourself will translate into you earning the right to be successful .   That is the reason that professionals are successful, and able to ask for payment for their efforts because their investment in their skills, their craft, has given the right to refuse defeat, and to be paid to do what they do.  Amateurs lose their amateur status when they receive payment for what they do.  Some of you need to start working towards losing your amateur status.

Stay green.

David Simpson

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