“There is no higher compliment in sports than ‘having time'” says Ed Smith in Intelligent Life magazine.
Elite athletes seem to have more time in a game than other athletes. Partly it’s due to their speed and their balance. They can move faster than other athletes and their agility prevents defenders from slowing their progress.
Even more than their physical abilities, the best athletes can slow the pace of the game. They can see the game clearly and their head is free of anxious thoughts. Their clarity enables these athletes to make better decisions. A moment that feels fast-paced and frantic to lesser players feels unhurried to those at the top of the game.
For example, the cricket player M.S. Dhoni has mastered the art of living in the moment of the game:
By narrowing his focus, by eliminating unnecessary thought, Dhoni is noticeably unhurried. Some see this as mystical. To Dhoni, I suspect it just feels natural. It is a remarkable gift, at a tangent to orthodox intelligence, with its rational calculations and predictions: closer to wisdom than cleverness.
If elite athletes can cultivate the art of having time in their games, what about the game of business? Can professionals in sales and marketing cultivate having time? What would speed, agility, and clarity look like for professionals in a customer-facing organization?
Answer this question by focusing on where you add value. Athletes add value by doing the things that enable them to score more points and that force their opponent to score fewer points. They work to eliminate anything that doesn’t add value. They find ways to improve by measuring every aspect of their game.
In sales and marketing you add value when you help buyers move to the next stage in their journey. Anything action that helps them move forward adds value. Any action that doesn’t help them move forward is wasted effort.
Like the athlete that becomes faster and more agile, you can respond to buyer needs more quickly. You might do this with a faster response to direct requests. Or by making your website easier to understand and navigate. In either case, you can measure your results and look for ways to become faster.
You can also become more like the elite athlete who can slow the game down by seeing more clearly and by making better decisions. Clarity and decision-making in sales and marketing come from a better understanding of your customer. When you listen carefully to the voice of the customer at each stage of the buying journey you can see their needs more clearly. You can make better decisions about what creates value for your customer at each buying stage.
Like the top athletes, you too can cultivate having time. You can become faster and more agile. You can see the game more clearly and make better decisions.