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by Kellee Gabel, The Web Professional, Inc.

I’m not expert in sales. In fact, I shun the idea that my customers might think I’m trying to sell them something. Why do I feel this way? Oh, let me count the ways… It’s not an uncommon mindset, much like so many people dread networking. Fear of rejection, no time for planning, followup, etc., etc., etc. In reality, I’m usually quite impressed when I’ve had a meaningful exchange with a good salesperson.

An interesting metaphor for sales is fishing.

A very good friend of mine who’s transitioned his career to sales said to me recently, “had I been doing the same activities for my business as I’m doing for my current employer, I would have made a lot more sales.”

My response was, “what is it that you’re doing?”

To which he answered, “Making a minimum of 25 calls a day. I have to, because my quota is 5 sales per day.”

I’ve never heard of anyone catching fish without a net or a line in the water. Oh sure, you can buy fish at the market, but let’s forget that option for the moment. If you don’t have any lines in the water, how much fish do you think you’ll catch?

My father was a commercial fisherman. It was really hard work. Dad and his crew started each workday at 4 am (yes, it was dark outside) and came ashore mid afternoon… on a clear day. After grueling physical labor on what was sometimes frighteningly rough water, there was equipment to be maintained, fish to be cleaned and re-iced, customers to be called, employees to be paid, etc. Like most small business owners, my Dad was wearing a lot of hats. On some days, even when you are a fisherman professionally, it seems like there’s little time to actually go fishing, but if you really need those fish… you have to get out on the water.

Do you think reaching out to 2 contacts per day could be squeezed in? Three? Four? More? If you have no time for sales, perhaps it is time to buy your fish at the market (read, hire a salesperson) and enjoy the rewards.

If I’m ever inclined to feel self pity about the workload before me (rarely, but I have moments), I think of my Dad, and remind myself of what real hard work is all about.

In the end, our business success is all about relationships, delivering goods and services reliably and affordably, and being there when the phone rings. Through word of mouth, direct sales, direct mail, e-mail marketing, social media, online marketing, and other marketing opportunities, we have some automated ways of staying in the spotlight.

And, yet, with all those mechanisms in place, you’ll always need to have a line in the water, metaphorically speaking.