By Bill Young

I recently participated in the 100-Day Burpee Challenge.

So you ask, what the heck is a burpee? 

As a kid I use to call them squat thrusts and let's just say they are a hard cardio workout and not fun. 

So then you ask, what's with the 100 days? 

The idea is to start the first day with one burpee and then add one additional burpee every day for 100 days.  When you finish 100 days later, you will do 100 consecutive burpees and in total you will have completed 5,050 burpees. 

For the exercise purist, I did make two modifications. First, because of a knee problem, I did not jump up at the end of each repetition but instead I stood up. But to offset that change, I made the decision to do my 100 burpees in one unbroken set and established an additional goal of doing them in less than ten minutes. 

So what sales lessons did I learn while doing 5,050 burpees?

Lesson One: Commitment  

Sales is a lot like doing burpees: it requires a commitment to take action and that commitment must happen before you begin. Doing one burpee is not too hard– almost anyone can manage one – but when the numbers got higher, I made a commitment to complete the day’s assignment no matter what. To be successful in sales you must also make a commitment to achieve your goal.  I find that writing the goals down helps me stay focused. 

Lesson Two: Preparation

Each day I needed to properly prepare for the day’s assignment.  I needed to make sure my body was physically able to preform by eating right, hydrating, getting proper sleep, etc.  I also needed to think ahead about where I would do them.  Since I often travel for my job, there were some days when I had to plan doing my burpees early in the morning before I left for the airport or in the hotel room late at night.  Sales also require planning, whether it's planning an agenda or the sequence of a specific call or the logistics to successfully orchestrate a business trip.  Successful reps plan well in advance.   

Lesson Three: Practice

A single burpee is not a simple movement. Doing one requires the use of almost every muscle group in your body – including two of your biggest ones: your heart and your brain.  It's important that you practice each of the movements individually and then pull them all together into the most efficient series of movements.  Sales success requires a complicated series of individual movements that need to be expertly mastered and coordinated. Mastery and coordination only come with practice. Too often reps just fall in a rut or, worst of all, practice in front of the client. 

Lesson Four: It's a team sport

Now wait, how can an individual doing burpees possibly be a team sport?  Even though I did the burpees by myself, I had the support of other members of my CrossFit box, my coaches and my family.  They provided encourage, shout-outs, fist bumps, helpful critiques, feedback and encouragement.  Frankly without them I doubt if I could have completed the 100 days.  Selling is much the same as burpees.  Successful reps involve others to get feedback, coaching, encouragement, and motivation. 

I did finish the Burpee Challenge.  On the 100th day I did 100 burpees, unbroken in 9:27 minutes.  Check out the video!

Bill Young is cofounder and president of SkillFitness. He credits his involvement with the CrossFit workout program for inspiring many of the concepts regarding practice, motivation and rapid skill development that led to SkillFitness.

Bill also serves as board president for Hammer, an organization focused on helping people with developmental disabilities live life to the fullest. He recently was featured in Hammer Discoveries magazine. Click here to read Bill's profile. 


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