Remember Pole Position, the popular video arcade game of the 1980s? I loved it. Amazingly, the things I learned while playing helped me in the print sales world.
Pole Position is a classic auto racing game. You have to be able to predict and control the timing and placement of other cars on the track.
The game requires strategy, confidence, and game-playing experience. The more you play, the better you understand how to use human behavior to your advantage.
One behavior that Pole Position spotlights is the tendency of drivers to run in a pack.
When the pack of drivers slows down due to an accident, a flag, or track conditions, you can lay back and see where the openings are. If your timing is right, you can sail through the openings without losing too much momentum. Meanwhile, the other drivers are struggling to accelerate from a stop or near stop, which gives you the advantage.
When I started in sales in the printing industry, I saw how similar it was to Pole Position.
My competitors were running around in a big flock, chasing customers. Meanwhile, they were leaving large openings for me.
Laying back and getting a feel for what the field was doing…that was key.
If everybody was zigging, I was zagging. If everyone was doing events and TV ads, I was doing direct mail and phone calls. If the masses chased big customers, I approached the small customers. When the pack zoomed to our neighboring metro area for fresh pickings, I doubled down within our own city.
I just let human behavior and physics cause natural clumps of competitors so I could choose my path through the obstacles.
After you’ve played Pole Position a few times, you start seeing your own strengths as a driver. You also see where you are awkward or hesitant.
It’s eye opening.
The biggest lesson from Pole Position is this.
You have to play the game frequently to learn how to win.
That’s right. You need to play (sell) frequently so you can:
- Figure out what you’re good at.
- Minimize weaknesses.
- Predict outcomes more accurately.
- Grab opportunities without panicking.
- Recover without losing momentum.
- Ascertain where the habits of other people can be used to your advantage.
- Practice persistence in the face of crushing defeat.
- Pick yourself up when your plan doesn’t work.
- Discover what winning is like so you can create a system to reproduce your successes.
- Refine your plan and adapt as needed.
When I watch my kids play and win today’s complex games, the premise is the same.
You’ve got to get in there and get munched as you figure things out. Then, systematically, you can capitalize on opportunities and move ahead of the pack.
Here’s my final observation about Pole Position as it relates to print sales.
Once you start winning consistently, the pack will chase YOU.
So, always keep yourself in top form, be fresh and unpredictable…and remember, the next smart driver is right behind you.
*Arcade games were similar to today’s video and computer games, except you had to go to an arcade, tavern or a convenience store to play them. Remember the Star Wars arcade game? The best!
Read more from Sandy here.
Sandy Hubbard is a marketing strategist for printing companies. She builds sales and marketing programs that can be sustained over the long haul, with affordable tools and your own people…and without stress! Find @sandyhubbard on Twitter each Wednesday at 4 PM ET, assisting #PrintChat host Deborah Corn @PrintMediaCentr with a lively online discussion for printers and those who love print.