Do Sales and Fly Fishing Share Common Ground?

Fly Fishing & Sales

Sales and Fly Fishing are two of my passions.  I suspect the reason is that I have not achieved my full potential in either area and I know that I can increase my success by focusing on a few important principles which I control.  Here are my thoughts, can you think of others?

You catch more fish when your actually fishing.  Last year I went on a Fly fishing trip on the Still Water river in Montana. The guide kept the boat drifting right along one of the banks and my job was to cast the Fly as near to edge as possible.  I was focused on perfecting my cast when to my surprise the guide offered this advice, “you need to cast more often”.  The reason, “it does not matter how perfect your cast is, if your Fly is not in the water you can’t catch fish“.  By the end of our float my arm was really tired and I had caught more fish than ever before.

This same principle is true in sales. To be successful you need to eliminate distractions and interruptions and make as many sales calls and presentations as possible. When we focus on completing the most important activities our overall competency and success will naturally follow.

After you get a bite, keep the line tight.  There is a reason you always see a Fly fisherman standing in the river holding their slightly bowed Fly rod high in the air.   The Fly’s or hooks that Fly fisherman use are very small and they don’t have any barbs. This allows the fish to be easily released without injury after they are landed and admired. A skilled Fly fisherman knows that after they get that first bite they need to tune in and pay close attention and always keep the line tight until they land their catch. If they allow some slack to occur the fish can easily spit out the hook and swim away.

It’s no different in sales. The initial call or inquiry is just the beginning of the process and new prospects are usually uncomfortable and ill at ease when talking to someone they don’t yet trust.  These potential customers need to be nurtured and cared for from the onset and through out the process or they will quickly disengage and lose interest.

A skilled sales person knows that they need to ask good questions and carefully listen to the customers answers to create and maintain a close connection throughout the entire process and especially during the follow up.  If the customer feels any lack of interest or effort they will disconnect and swim away.

The Presentation is everything.  In Fly fishing this means that the fly should be in perfect condition and placed in the optimum spot. Weary fish can tell the difference between the real thing and an impostor and cannot be easily fooled.  If anything feels out of place or unusual they will avoid it.

In sales the presentation is the power in the sale.  Care should always be given to the appearance of everything the customer experiences  including your materials, the interior of your office and community and even your personal appearance.   I remember having to tell a enthusiastic young sales person that one of her customers had lost confidence in her credibility and gone else where simply because they had noticed that she appeared to be a little disheveled and had a run in her nylons.

Always remember that presentation is all about the details and customers do notice everything.

You can learn as much from failure as you can from success.  That is why they call it fishing and not catching!  Failure is only failure if your not having fun and your not learning. For me selling is not a win lose proposition rather it’s more about the experience of building friendships and getting to know other people. Learning to successfully adapt to an unlimited number of different challenges requires making as many attempts as possible, working to improve my ability to connect at a valuable level and continuously improving my skills and presentation so I can be prepared to help others get what they want when they need the help.

As long as you are enjoying what you are doing and striving to improve then what whatever you do it will be enjoyable, worthwhile and rewarding.

Writing this article has given me the itch to work on my trout conversions this weekend..  Take care!

William Nowell

by William Nowell