"Luck," says Branch Rickey, "is the residue of design." [1] Top-notch sales producers "seem" to be lucky all the time, they appear to receive all the breaks, get all the leads and sales fall into their laps. Another axiom attributed to Thomas Jefferson, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it," goes hand in hand with Mr. Rickey's statement and gives additional insight into luck; the harder I work the luckier I get.

Sales professional with winning track records make sales look easy, so easy, that other people believe all they must to do to be in sales is to show up and sales will come their way. The one thing people do not see is the planning, preparation, hard work, and long hours that have gone into making them the top in their field. The sales pro goes into every call, every appointment, with a game plan developed from careful thought and planning.

Each prospect or customer has been carefully analyzed and a determination made as to how best to approach them and fulfill their needs. If a need is unknown, the sales pro has a plan to find the need through deftly planned questions, observations, and listening. Once the pro has determined the prospects needs they know their product or services features, benefits, and value so well they are able to match that need and close the sale. To the untrained eye, it appears that the sales pro got "lucky" and walked away with the contract.

People often say the sales pro has talent and luck to explain their success, dismissing the work ethic of the pro. All the talent in the world is of no use if it is not developed. Emile Zola said, "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest NBA basketball players the game has ever seen, was the first one at practice and the last one to leave the floor. Only his coaches, teammates, and staff could see the dedication and work he put into his craft. He made it look easy. Michael had talent and he did everything possible to maximize that talent. He made some incredible shoots and did amazing things on the floor, but it was not because he was lucky. His talent and hard work was designed to achieve success and to be the best.

Warren Buffett, the renowned Chairmen of Berkshire Hathaway, is regarded as the premier investor in the world. He makes it look easy and Buffett admitted to Fortune magazine, "I was wired at birth to allocate capital." Those that know him say he is famous for his discipline and the long hours he spends studying financial statements of investment targets. Even though he has talent, he works to maximize that talent and be successful. Has Warren Buffett been lucky, yes, but remember what Branch Rickey said, "Luck is the residue of design."

Sales pros have the same drive, ambition and work ethic as Michael and Warren and it shows in their performance. If you want success in your sales career, do not depend on luck to achieve it. Planning, preparation, long hours, hard work, and developing the talent you have will be your ticket to increased sales. When you do this, do not be surprised if along the way you have some sales luck of your own.

1. Branch Rickey, December 20, 1881 - December 9, 1965, Major League Baseball Executive, best known for breaking baseballs color barrier by signing African American player, Jackie Robinson.

2. Emile Zola, French journalist 1871-1893.

Gaylen is the Director of Sales for Varsity Contractors, a full service facility service provider. For free information on How to Clean in a Minute write: gthornton@varsitycontractors.com.