Over the past year, many people have asked me, “What is the #1 way that my coach has helped me become a faster runner?” It’s a pretty simple answer. Strides. In running, strides are a very short burst of speed added into your easy run. For example, on an easy run day, I’ll go out and run 8 “easy” miles with 6X20 seconds fast and an additional 2 easy minutes in the second half of the run. Why has this seemingly short activity made me faster? The less complex answer is that if you learn how to run quickly some of the time, it will make it easier for your body to run more quickly all of the time. (Want the more complex answer? See David Roche’s article.)
So, how could this possibly apply to a business situation? How about this scenario: a manager has a sales team that isn’t used to making the volume of outbound dials that will lead them to success. 70 dials a day is a big number! The manager tries to push them in 1-1’s to make more dials, monitors their time to get them to do it, and has them plan out all of their dials. Unfortunately, nothing is consistently working.
Then he tries something different. He holds a 3 day contest based on dials and connects with possible decision makers. One dial equals 1 point and connecting with possible decision makers equates to 5. The contest only lasts for 1 hour per day. It’s every person for themselves and they will compete for $100 cash. Day one, the winner calls 45 people and makes 1 connect. Day two, there’s a different winner and they make 50 dials with 1 connect. Day 3, the same winner as day 1 comes out on top, this time only making 40 dials but with 3 connects.
Here’s the twist: the manager runs the contest 5 times over the course of 3 months and has a variety of winners because everyone on the team is competitive. As the contest goes on, call volume for each week begins to rise. If you can do 50 dials in an hour, how many can you do in the entire day? 4 months after the contest, the manager continues to remind the team to keep up the dials. Connects go up, meetings go up, and ultimately, sales increase.
In running and in business, if you get used to doing an activity at a high volume for a short period of time, that same activity over a longer period of time feels easier and more attainable. Sometimes we have to prove to our brain that we really can do it!
Graham Shalvoy is a leader for Edgelink, a technology focused recruiting and staffing firm. He is also a competitive trail runner, logging 60-70 miles per week. His wife, Corinne, is also a competitive trail runner and is a Director of Talent for Cologix, a data center company. Together they have two rowdy boys and Corinne and Graham hold on for dear life juggling it all.