Whether you are a writer selling your words, a business retailing products or a buckaroo driving cattle to market, knowing how to push is important.
Actually, I’ve experienced all three. And pushing cattle is relevant to sales.
Cattle drives were once the highlight of my year. When I was a teen, a local ranch hired me to keep the range cows and calves at the summer grazing grounds high in the mountains. I’d ride my horse from the ranch below and push any strays back up the sagebrush lined trails to the spring-fed meadows and aspens. In the fall, we’d gather all the range cattle and drive them for three days by horseback.
What I’ve found is that not only do I need to know my stuff–writing, selling, pushing cattle–I also have to be mindful of how I connect with those involved with my success.
With the cattle drives, I needed to know my horse, terrain and cattle. Pushing is a gentle buckaroo art. You have to gauge the distance between your horse and the herd. You want the herd to go a certain way so you might flank right or left. Sometimes you whistle, sometimes you croon and sometimes you click loudly with your tongue.
Granted, I’ve never clicked my tongue at a customer or client, but I’ve made my presence known with a giddy-up in their direction. Making someone aware is a gentle push that doesn’t feel like pushing. It can be consistently delivering a quality experience or writing engaging words that get attention.
Once, I saw a greenhorn–an inexperienced person on a cattle drive–trying to push the cattle too hard. She’d ride her horse too close to the cattle and they’d scatter five different directions. The trail boss kept telling her to back off. Then she rode up on the bull. No one pushes the bull. The bull follows the cows, but he goes at his own pace. She pushed too hard, and that bull spun around and nailed her horse, dropping it to its knees. The horse was okay and she learned what back off meant.
When we’re greenhorns at sales, we might make the same mistake of pushing too hard. Not that a customer or client might drop us to our knees, but we certainly don’t want to annoy people with our constant pushing. We need to learn to back off, but maintain presence. We whistle, croon and click and the herd goes the way we intend.
So how do we do do that exactly? Show up, pay attention and deliver what you have in your care. Make your presence enjoyable, not annoying. If you write about a certain genre, talk about your interest in it or how you tackle the process. Ask questions; get to know people and let them get to know you. What you have to sell is secondary to building trust. This takes time and consistency.
Next time you think you need to push, push, push to the rhythm of hard sales, pretend that the person you are pushing is a bull. It might teach you how to back off and stick it out in the saddle. The buckaroo way.