Squirrels (Issue 1043)

In which we are reminded to set priorities and put boundaries around our sales efforts.

Arya is a four-year-old Blue Heeler, an Australian Cattle Dog, bred to run all day and (you guessed it) herd cattle. She’s smart, obedient, responsive, affectionate, playful, strong, VERY quick, and obsessed with squirrels.

I’m in Austin, TX for a week, taking care of her while my son is away and I’ve learned that my favorite walk-the-dog Austin streets are those  W I T H O U T  trees. Because, where there are trees, there are squirrels.

There are hundreds of trees in my son’s Austin neighborhood so our three-a-day walks are, for Arya, target-rich hunting expeditions. She lopes along with her head forward, her nose a bit down, and her triangular ears up, scanning. When she sees a squirrel, her lope throttles back to a walk and then to a slow walk as she aims toward the squirrel and approaches.

Managing dogs is new to me. I grew up with cats. My son and daughter have provided a few hours of helpful orientation in the last 12 months and I’m still early in my development. I change my strategies with Arya based on the distance from dog to squirrel: (1) distract her by changing direction; (2) shorten the leash, say, “no, we’re not going to chase that one”, and keep walking; (3) command her to “heel’ and keep her on a very short leash finished with a treat if she stays in frame; and (4) use my really big voice to say “NO!” and drag her sorry butt away from the squirrel’s tree or telephone pole.

32 squirrels this morning.

After a late-in-the-walk explosive close-range charge at a squirrel I didn’t see, I commanded, “SIT!” (which she did immediately) and we “STAYED” for several minutes so both of us could calm down. And, you know, like you do: I recalled words from a senior sales manager friend: “A salesperson with every place to go has no place to go.” Arya has no sense of priorities, no distinctions about “distance to squirrel” or “squirrel’s proximity to escape route.” She wants to have a go at all of them – any squirrel, every squirrel, on either side of the street, at any distance. Exhausting!

One of my friends sells software to health centers, hospitals, and universities. He changed roles a few months ago; I asked him, “What’s your territory now?”

“All states west of the Mississippi River,” he replied.

“How many potential users?”

“Hundreds. There are 57 in California, alone.”

“How are you going to focus your time?”, I asked.

“I’m still thinking,” he said.

Every place to go and no place to go. Good luck with that.

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 https://clarityadvantage.com/knowledge-center/ .

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