Let me recount the following story, from the life of Spencer W. Kimball, as an analogy, to illustrate the significance of paying attention to the seemingly small and insignificant details of sales.
“As a small boy I rode the range with the men, tending the cattle and helping with the round-up, I used to look forward to the "rest stop" under the wide spreading branches of a most beautiful tree on Ash Creek. Its leafy branches provided a haven of protection for the birds that made this magnificent tree their home. The cattle sought out its cool shade and the soft pulverized ground under it for their afternoon relaxation. And we thirsty cowboys always made a stop to get a cool drink from the canteen and to stretch our tired, cramped limbs for a few moments as we rested from the hot summer sun.
As we lay on the soft cool earth looking up into the tree, we saw high in one of the limbs a little sprig of mistletoe. It stood out in contrast from the grayer leafage of the tree and was not unattractive in its dark green dress with its little whitish berries. I imagined I could hear the gigantic tree saying to the little mistletoe, ‘Ha, little friend, you are welcome to stay with me. In my strength, I can easily spare you a little of my sap, which I create from the sun and air and the water under the creek bed. There is plenty for all, and you in your smallness can do me no harm!’
Years later when I was a man, I again came up Ash Creek, again driving cattle. Imagine my sadness to find what had been a beautiful tree, now dry and dead, its long, jagged branches reaching high like the bony fingers of a skeleton. Not even an uninhabited bird nest graced its forks, no cattle lazed under its branches, no foliage covered its grim nakedness, and no welcome was extended to traveler or cowboy to take shelter under its bare limbs that were already being hacked away by woodcutters.
The infinitely beautiful tree of my youth was now the ugliest tree on Ash Creek.
Trying to identify the cause of the tree’s devastation, I noticed hanging from the limbs of the tree great clusters of mistletoe-the parasite of the tree, the translucent, glutinous berries perhaps had been carried by a bird or the wind. The stickiness of the berry served to attach it to the tree limb or host plant until germination was complete, the little sprout always turning toward the point of attachment.”
And as I pondered this story, the thought came to me: How like the little mistletoe are the small, seemingly unimportant principles and skills of salesmanship that we might neglect. We become complacent and don’t do the little things thinking they won’t have an impact on our sales success. Things like not planning our day today, or maybe not romancing on the proper cycle, or maybe neglecting prospect data sheets, or possibly not preparing a monthly goal sheet. It might be neglecting to prospect each day, or not asking for a referral. It is only a small thing, but what if procedures are followed only ninety percent of the time, thinking close is good enough.
As small and uneventful as each of these neglected activities may seem, the ultimate consequence of complacency to our sales success could be as damaging as the small little sprout of mistletoe was to the beautifully magnificent tree on Ash Creek. In the world of sales, it is truly the small, seemingly unimportant things, those things that average salespeople don’t do, that make all the difference in the world between success and failure.