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Is it better to be lucky or good?

November 2, 2018

In sales, hard work and preparation generally produce the best results. They also can help you get lucky and win business you hadn’t expected.

Bart Shachnow

Sales Performance Director

As Sales Performance Director, Bart, with the help of his team, develops and delivers a broad range... About this expert

Account Development Tip November 2018

In sports, we’ve all seen how a lucky break can be a game-changer. In tennis, it’s the ball that hits the net and just drops over on the other side for a winning point. In baseball, it’s the badly hit ball that just eludes a second baseman’s grasp and winds up scoring the winning run. In football, an obvious penalty that wasn’t called on a play results in the winning touchdown. Victories in sports — especially at the professional level — require extensive planning, preparation and execution. But it is also undeniable that such victories are often punctuated by lucky breaks. That doesn’t take away from or cheapen a victory. Pro sports teams and athletes always look for ways to gain a competitive edge, including enhancing their chances that such lucky breaks go their way.

Success in sales also requires outstanding planning, preparation and execution. But lucky breaks also happen in sales. All the time. And the best sales professionals also work hard at catching a few lucky breaks every time they can. That’s why working your pipeline and always keeping it full of target opportunities is so important. Many salespeople don’t do that because they think a long shot opportunity isn’t worth pursuing. But, to use a popular sports analogy, you can’t get a hit unless you step up to the plate. 

Being lucky implies that you’re the beneficiary of a random event that could have happened to anyone, and a victory or a big sales win is somehow less meritorious because it was accomplished that way. Believe me, no professional sports team or athlete has ever felt bad or somehow less worthy because they caught a break. At the highest level, to be successful, you’ll take whatever edge you can get. Lucky breaks are always embraced. Adopt the same attitude about your sales efforts.  

Here are two easy ways to create your own good luck:

  1. Have a mindset that’s always open to creating opportunities. A prospect might be a long shot win today because of a decades-long brokerage relationship they are extremely happy with. But nothing lasts forever. A relationship might unexpectedly end for any number of reasons, like account-management turnover leading to client unhappiness.Which leads to my second point:
  2. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can create an opportunity you wouldn’t otherwise get. Being regularly visible and top of mind with a client can be extremely helpful when that client has an urgent need for something the incumbent carrier cannot satisfy (for example, a bid bond on a construction project that has to be issued in the next 24 hours).

If you constantly work at filling your pipeline, good things will happen, sometimes completely unexpectedly. Yes, that does require hard work and preparation, but to paraphrase another popular sentiment, you’ll find that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

I look forward to receiving your feedback (positive or negative), questions or comments. Please email me your thoughts.

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