We just wrapped up the checkout season at The Southwestern Company. After a summer of hard work, hundreds of excited, tired, relieved college students have flooded our corporate headquarters. During one of our debriefing meetings, I was talking about victories, defeats, and why a second summer of selling would be better than the first.
One young lady from Russia piped up and said [read this in a thick Russian accent], “The second summer would be better than thees one, because, as vee say in my country, ‘The first pancake is always bad.’”
I liked it. Her proverb is true isn’t it?
Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly, at first. The first pancake you create generally is over or undercooked and may not be the best shape either. So it is with the first go-round at Southwestern: over or underdone summers. Sometimes students come out of their first experience in different shapes.
If you’re selling, more than likely it’s going to take some time to master the skills–probably more than one summer! If you’re recruiting, you may blow the initial conversation with a friend. Your first series of phone calls to prospect may be largely crappy. Your first interviews will probably not be ideal. (The first group interview I held, I was 0-5–not the best “closing percentage.”)
Get beyond the first try. Get to the second pancake.
I would love to mandate a two year minimum stint at Southwestern once a student joins the team. Why? Because it takes time to get good at selling! Some students catch on right at the end of the summer–then there’s no time to excel. A second go-round would be better. If you’ve ever re-taken a class, generally you do better the second time. Why? This time you’re familiar with the prof, the class, how he/she grades. Odds are you improve.
So remember, all things are difficult before they are easy. “The first pancake is always bad.”