Sales Lessons From “Secretariat”

SEMA Member News—September/October 2014

Sales Lessons From “Secretariat”

By John Chapin

In sales and business, attitude means always doing what’s right for the customer, always staying positive and upbeat with the customer, and always being willing to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.
In sales and business, attitude means always doing what’s right for the customer, always staying positive and upbeat with the customer, and always being willing to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.

The recent running of the Triple Crown horse races reminded me of Secretariat, perhaps the most famous horse ever and winner of the Triple Crown back in 1973. If you haven’t seen the 2010 movie Secretariat, you need to. Both inspirational and motivational, the film provides us with some great sales and life lessons. Perhaps even more are found in the lives of the jockey, Ronnie Turcotte; the trainer, Lucien Laurin; and especially the owner, Penny Chenery.

Sales and Life Lessons From the Movie Secretariat

  1. Keep the pedal to the metal. Secretariat won the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, by a record 31 lengths. After Ronnie Turcotte allegedly ran another horse so hard that its heart exploded, several outsiders suggested that he not push Secretariat too hard in the Belmont, the longest of the three Triple Crown races. Turcotte didn’t listen. Even if you have a huge lead on the competition, never back off and never rest on your laurels. Many things can go wrong in addition to the competition gaining on or passing you. Economies shift, stock markets crash, terrorist events happen, and all industries face major changes at some point. You need to ride the wave as long as possible when things are going well because there will be problems and setbacks at some point. When you’re last, you outwork everyone and push hard. The same rule applies when you’re first or anywhere else in the pack. Outwork everyone.
  2. You have to be committed. Penney Chenery put it all on the line for Secretariat. She risked financial ruin and stretched family relationships to the breaking point to do what she knew, in her heart, was the right thing. When you’re committed at the highest level, you have extreme confidence and conviction. When you’re committed, you have a career instead of a job, and you take complete responsibility for your success or failure. You develop yourself personally and professionally, and you are obsessed with doing whatever it takes to win—ethically, of course. You turn over every stone, look under every rock, and you leave absolutely nothing to chance. On the few occasions when you do lose, you know there was nothing more you could have done.
  3. It’s all about heart. Secretariat’s heart was twice the size of that found in an average horse. Your figurative heart needs to be just as large. Heart is all about having the right attitude, which is by far the biggest factor that will lead to your success or failure. Attitude means having the drive and determination to succeed. In sales and business, attitude also means always doing what’s right for the customer, always staying positive and upbeat with the customer, and always being willing to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.
  4. It doesn’t matter where you start or where you are right now; it only matters where you end up. Secretariat, and especially the other characters in the movie, faced daunting obstacles along the way. You, too, will stumble and fall. You will have challenges both personally and professionally. There may be sleepless nights, times when you wake up at three in the morning wishing this was all a bad dream, or days when you’re down and depressed wondering how you’re going to make it. There will be times when your sales numbers are down, your business is hurting, and you consider quitting. Don’t. If you’ve got points one, two and three above covered, you should have the resolve to continue and carry on. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. They’re not going to tally your final score until the end. It doesn’t matter if you have the lowest numbers in the office today, this week or this month. What matters is that you hang in there, keep getting up every day and keep swinging away. What matters is that you leave it all out on the field knowing that you did the best you possibly could.

John Chapin is a sales and motivational speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter or to contact him about speaking at your next event, visit www.completeselling.com. Chapin has more than 26 years of sales experience as a number-one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year, Sales Encyclopedia. For permission to reprint, e-mail johnchapin@completesellingcom.

 

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