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How to Be a Ninja Salesperson

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I recently got hooked on a television show called “American Ninja Warrior.” On the show, ordinary, everyday people compete to become the first American ninja warrior by completing an extremely challenging obstacle course. The course takes less than two minutes to complete, but it requires physical strength, timing, agility, balance and mental focus.

As I have watched the show, I’ve noticed that each of the competitors is strong but not exceptionally muscular. They do not possess body-builder physiques. The one thing they have in common, however, is that they have each trained for this event. In fact, one competitor built a ninja workout course in his brother’s backyard.

What I love about this show is that some of the competitors who were favored to win didn’t make it through the first stage of the finals, even though they were fully prepared and well trained.

Here are three sales lessons I have learned from watching the show:

1. Be adaptable. The athletes do not have the opportunity to practice on the course beforehand and most of them face obstacles they have never seen before. That means they need to quickly determine the best approach to get past each obstacle.

Salespeople need this skill because it’s not uncommon to show up for a sales appointment with a well-prepared presentation only to find that it is not relevant to the prospect’s situation.

2. Build your physical strength. The competitors are physically fit, but their degree of fitness varies. Some are muscular, while others seem to lack strong muscle definition. However, some of the less-muscular competitors have fared just as well — if not better — than the more muscular competitors.

Salespeople need physical strength to compete in today’s business world. Long hours and travel schedules can wreak havoc on a salesperson’s mental acuity. Physical strength can help you endure the logistical challenges of selling.

3. Timing is everything. In order to complete the course in the allotted time, competitors need to have great timing. They need to know exactly when to jump, how far to jump and when to let go of ropes, bars, etc.

Salespeople also need great timing. They need to know when to talk, when to remain silent, when to contact a silent prospect and when to let go of a sales opportunity that isn’t moving forward.

Succeeding in sales can be a lot like getting through a grueling obstacle course. But remember that it’s not always the stronger-appearing ninja — or salesperson — who comes out on top.

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