Running is Like Selling. A Race to the Finish.

Running is Like Selling. A Race to the Finish.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Editor’s note: This is a Gitomer throwback article but the message is still relevant today.

I just ran my first race. An 8K (five miles for us anti-metric devotees) road race. I’ve been in sales for 25 years. I’ve been running for six months.

As the gun sounded to begin this race, I realized with a rush of adrenaline that it’s the same feeling I get when I’m trying to land a big sale. It’s the same atmosphere crowded. Everyone trying to get ahead. Lots of competition.

As the race progressed, the similarities became so overwhelming that I began asking fellow runners if anyone had brought a pen and paper. Runners (like salespeople) love to talk during the event.

Here are the similarities. As you progress through them, select a few areas where you may be weak. Try to use this sports analogy to focus on your capabilities and qualities that can make you a winner.

Believe you can do it. Thinking you can is the most important aspect of any endeavor. You become (and accomplish) what you think about.

Train before you participate. You don’t walk onto a running course and complete it with no training. You don’t walk into a prospects office with no training and expect to win (make a sale).

Make a plan to finish. Know how fast you can run, and what you have to do to cross the finish line before you start the race (sale).

Be prepared. The right equipment makes all the difference. Having it when you need it makes all the sales. (It also makes you look good)

Be on time. There’s no second chance. Be there before the gun goes off.

Pace yourself. Know your pace before you begin. If you want to run faster, the answer is simple: train more.

Make friends by helping others. Encouraging others actually helps you. Giving positive energy to others increases yours twofold.

Don’t be influenced by others at your level. Don’t worry if a few people pass you. Let them run their race. You run yours.

Be prepared for change. Things happen during a race (sale) you weren’t counting on (I got two cramps along the way I think it’s called a gut check) Be adaptable to the situation. Be prepared to bend. And don’t lose sight of the goal no matter what gets in the way.

Don’t do too much too soon. If you go too fast too soon, you’ll burn out. Save your best for last.

Don’t quit. Finish the race no matter what. You only lose if you quit.

Find a mentor. Winning races or sales is easier with someone wise to help show the way. Mentors can save you years with a few words of wisdom.

Beat your personal best. Be your own winner. You don’t have to beat everyone else. You just have to beat your own best time. Being better than you’ve ever been before is a great victory.

Have fun. The race (sale) should be exhilarating, challenging and an atmosphere that’s happy. You set that atmosphere in your mind long before you enter the race (office). If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.

Celebrate victory. Bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Talk to others who have shared the experience. Buy yourself for something. Get in the habit of feeling good after an achievement you’ve earned it.

I came in 902nd out of a field of 1,400 runners. For the record, my time was 44:57. You can learn a lot from losing to 900 other runners, just like you learn every time a prospect tells you “no” and you lose a sale. Losing helps you learn how (and become more determined) to win.

The good news is that I placed 86th in my age group. Evidently people my age (I’m in the “nearly decrepit” group) have better things to do on Thanksgiving morning when it’s 40 degrees outside. The great news is that I finished the race. I did it. I participated in an event that I trained for. I exceeded my goal of “finishing ahead of someone.” I actually finished ahead of more than 500 people. WOW.

The overall winner had a time of 23:54. Five miles in less than 30 minutes. How long do you think it took him to prepare to win? Do you have that same dedication to prepare to win your sale? If not, look behind you, your competition is about to pass you like you were standing still.

You don’t have to come in first to be a winner, you just have to finish the race. Training and preparation earns you the right to enter the competition.

To compete is the challenge.
To compete is the learning.
To compete is the reward.
To compete will lead you to victory.
Your personal victory.

I’m ready (eager) to enter the next race. I wish my knees felt the same way.



23 Ways to Be Persistent and Win. Techniques and methods to become more persistent. (Without being a pest!) Just go to, click Access GitBit, register if you’re a first time user and enter the word Persist.