sales success

Success Monday: Sales Insights from the Zebra

Sales guru and author Jill Konrath is the author of “More Sales, Less Time,” subtitled, “Surprisingly simple strategies for today’s crazy-busy sellers.” Her lessons on sales can be applied to many aspects of one’s life, from how you run your business to how you interact with family and friends.

“When you’re out on a safari, zebras are everywhere. They’re grazing with the giraffes, kibitzing with the kudus and wandering with the warthogs. And, because they’re so “Africa,” they were one of the highlights of my trip.

On the second day of our safari, our guide posed this question when we saw a herd: “So why do zebras have stripes?” We smugly replied, “Camouflage.”

“That’s right,” he said. “But what are the other reasons?” I was stumped, but one of the other people on the safari piped in, “Identification.”

“Absolutely,” said the guide. “Every single zebra is striped differently. It’s a way of standing out in the herd. And the final reason?” This time no one knew the answer.

Well, it turns out that the stripes are used for temperature control. In cooler weather, the black stripes raise up and spread out, enabling the zebra to capture more of the sun’s heat.

Then on hot summer days, the white stripes raise up and fluff out to reflect the sunlight. This creates a continuous airflow across their body, continuously and naturally cooling the zebra from the scorching heat. Brilliant, I thought.

So what can we learn about sales from the zebra?

In essence, the zebra teaches us about the importance of being able to adjust effortlessly to change.

If only it were that easy for us humans.

Doing things effortlessly requires us to be astute observers to changes in the environment we’re in and the people we’re interacting with. We need to be able to switch gears at a moment’s notice.

Doing things effortlessly means we have to work hard to become proficient. We need to study our customers’ businesses and industry trends. We need to become better communicators.

Doing things effortlessly means we’ve failed—a lot. It also means we’ve picked ourselves up again and tried something new.

Doing things effortlessly means we have a process in place. We know where are customers are in their decision process and how we can help them make the best decision.

In short, doing things effortlessly takes a lot of effort. The best sellers in the world make it look so easy, but they’ve worked hard to get to that point. And truthfully, it’s worth it.

Pay attention to the lesson of the zebra.”

—Jill Konrath is an internationally-recognized sales expert, in-demand speaker and bestselling author with several books out, including “More Sales, Less Time.” For more savvy sales advice and to download Jill’s free sales tools, visit http://www.jillkonrath.com/.