The story of the tortoise and the hare didn’t end after the decider.
We last left the hare exhausted and having just heard how he’d been beaten by the tortoise again.
Sometime later, having put this latest upset behind him and ignoring comments of other the animals, the hare took a walk through the forest and replayed in his mind what went wrong in the third race.
It was pretty simple, as a hare, he wasn’t built to succeed on the track the tortoise had chosen. He wasn’t a fan of water and couldn’t swim!
While on the original track, when the hare wasn’t overconfident, the tortoise’s (severe!) lack of speed meant he couldn’t compete with the hare.
This left the situation at somewhat of a stalemate.
Whoever picked the course would have a distinct advantage because they could include features or obstacles that would give them an almost unbeatable edge.
If only I could swim like the tortoise thought the hare, then I’d be unbeatable regardless of the track. Imagine what my race time would have been if I didn’t have to go around the river in the last race?
He could learn to swim, but that would take a long time, and he didn’t know if he would ever be as good as the tortoise.
By this point, his musings had led him to the bank of the river that had cost him the deciding race.
As he stared across the water to the far side, he had a thought.
“That’s an excellent idea!” he muttered to himself as he went off to find the tortoise.
A few days later, the animals were spread out along the track from the last race as both the hare and the tortoise stepped up to the start line.
The race started and, much to the crowd’s surprise, the hare picked up the tortoise and sprinted off down the track.
Reaching the river, he put the tortoise down. Stepping into the water, the tortoise helped the hare on to his back and quickly swam to the other side.
Picking the tortoise back up again, the hare ran as fast as he could to reach to the finish line.
Click went the stopwatch the badger was holding as both the hare and the tortoise crossed the line together.
“That’s an impressive time!”
What can The Tortoise and the Hare’s personal best teach you about succeeding in sales?
Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses
In assessing how the previous race went, the hare understood the types of tracks he was suited to and which ones he wasn’t (any that involved water!).
It’s the same in sales.
There will be parts of the sales process that you will be extremely good at and others that you struggle with.
Your style and personality my appeal better to specific prospects, while you’ll have difficulty connecting with others.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.
The first step is to understand and accept them.
You’ve then got two choices for the next step – work on improving your weaknesses or do what the hare did and embrace coopetition.
Coopetition is when two competitors work together or collaborate to achieve an outcome that benefits both them and their client.
For the first three races, the hare and the tortoise were competing to reach the finish line first.
However, in the fourth race, they decide to collaborate to see how fast they could finish the course.
The result was they ran a much faster time when they were working together than either of them ran on their own.
I’m a passionate believer in the power of coopetition in business.
Businesses have strengths and weaknesses, and while they might work in the same industry and be targeting the same pool of prospects, that doesn’t mean they can’t work together to deliver and even better results for their customers when collaborating.
Instead of one business “winning” the client and the other one “losing” them, they both get the client and can focus on providing the services or products that are their respective strengths.
A great example is my BNI networking group, where this spirit of coopetition by the members has led to successful collaborations between businesses that would have otherwise competed with each other.
In a sales team, coopetition also plays a crucial role in the team’s success.
Sales targets naturally foster competition, and it’s very common for salespeople in the same organisation to try and outdo each other.
This competition can be useful because it incentivises people to strive for better results, but the downside is, if unchecked, it can lead to the sales team, and by extension the organisation, competing with itself.
Changing the objective from who can close the most deals or generate the most revenue for the company, to how can we bring in the most business together makes a massive difference.
And will allow your team to achieve a new personal best.
Get Over Yourself
The fourth race would never have happened if the hare didn’t get over himself and approach the tortoise.
He could have blamed the tortoise for tricking him or declare that it wasn’t a fair race because the track was designed to give the tortoise a massive advantage.
Approaching the competing business that you want to collaborate with might seem scary or daunting, but admitting that you’re not as good at an area than them and want to work with them is not showing weakness. It’s a strength.
If you communicate your proposition well as the hare did to the tortoise, they’ll see how working together will be mutually beneficial for their business, yours, and your respective clients.
It’s no different in sales teams, don’t be afraid to approach and work with those salespeople whose strengths are your weaknesses.
You might not always get a yes, but if you do, the results will be worth it.
Overall, the final part of the story of The Tortoise and The Hare takes a very different track to the other three parts and provides some valuable lessons.
These lessons all relate to the idea of coopetition – where competitors collaborate to achieve a beneficial result for both parties.
When you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can find businesses or people to work with whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa.
Successful coopetition leads to much better results than if you try and beat your competitors on your own.
We have many events and programmes specifically designed to help salespeople and business owners consistently reach the finish line. Get in touch to find out more.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333