The Walk (Issue 1008)

In which we are reminded that, sometimes, the most direct routes into major accounts are not the best.

Route 28 between Orleans and Chatham on Cape Cod winds gently along the western shore of Pleasant Bay. While there  are many views of pretty beaches, the road is two lanes wide and narrow shouldered, frequently framed by abundant poison ivy, heavily trafficked by cars and trucks from small to large traversing between the two towns. The road was not designed for pedestrians.

Never mind, I wanted some exercise and some time alone. I decided to walk the road 5 ½  miles south  toward the Chatham Light.

The first car to pass coming toward me over the top of a slight rise in the road gave me no space. Guardrail to my left, and although I had turned sideways, I could have touched the passenger side car door handles. The car right behind him brushed by me even closer.

As I continued, sometimes there was space to my left; I could step away from oncoming traffic. Other times, I’d have to stop, turn sideways, back up just to the edge of the poison ivy or a guard rail, and wait for the cars or trucks to pass. In blind spots, I’d have to listen for quiet before proceeding.

When I reached left-turning curves in the road, I’d cross the road to the far side so I could see around the curve, hoping the cars approaching me from behind would see me and drive around me. Some cars coming toward me acknowledged me and arced around me, a few quite generously and early. Others didn’t. A few, I think, intentionally hugged the edge of the pavement, forcing me off to the side.

“This was a stupid decision” came to mind a few times.

About two miles along, Training Field Road, a much less busy secondary road with wide shoulders flanked by broad residential lawns, opened to my right. If I walked there, I could avoid a stretch of Route 28 and I would have two choices of alternative routes. One would add about a mile to my walk and put me back on Route 28 about  3/4 mile further along. The other would take me the long way back to town and add a bit over two miles to my route.

As I walked Training Field Road, I thought (you know, as one does) that my walk was like working a major account. While my goal was clear, the most direct route was not the best.  Some direct routes to a goal, while potentially faster, involve heavy traffic, high risks, and, potentially, fatal outcomes to the effort. Other routes are slower and less risky – you make the goal, it just takes longer.  Along the way, some people look out for you, others don’t. Some people give you space to advance, others try to run  you off, and it’s hard to tell which is which in advance. Going alone means “no help” if something goes wrong.  It’s useful to have research, a plan, and a “Plan B” rather than starting blind and making things up as you go.  And, sometimes it’s more obvious to others than to us that it would be  better to invest our time in another opportunity altogether.

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at .

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