You’ve likely never heard of a man called Mack Robinson.

Mack was an accomplished athlete and sprinter. In the 1936 Munich Olympic games, he ran an incredible race in which he set a new world record. He didn’t just beat the old record, he absolutely annihilated it. The reason you don’t know about Mack, is because he actually took second place in that race. Jesse Owens beat him by 4/10th of a second. That race famously caused Adolf HItler, in attendance, to storm out of the stadium, furious that the master race concept he promoted had been so obviously weakened. It was and remains an Iconic moment in world History.

Jesse Owens went on to a celebrated life, but Mack Robinson did not, working a series of small jobs for governments and school districts, not being really recognized and honored until the 1984 games. He was also overshadowed by his beloved younger brother, Jackie Robinson, famous for breaking the race barrier in Major League Baseball.

Mack’s story teaches a strong lesson for the sales world, applicable for you and for your clients. You have to choose your comparisons carefully, strategically.

When you look at how good you are or are not at your job, the only person you should be comparing yourself to is yesterday’s version of you. It does NOT matter how good your elevator pitch is compared to anyone else’s. It only matters how it compares to your pitch yesterday. Did it get better? Same with your objection handling, or your needs analysis or presentation. Your commission check might be smaller than someone else in the company, but if it is bigger than your personal best, then it is a win. Anchoring your comparison on others is a recipe for disappointment and discouragement.

Your clients will often have a tendency to try and compare your solution to an ideal scenario. They will often bring up objections based on your solution not being a perfect solution. The real comparison should be to all the other solutions ACTUALLY AVAILABLE to them. If you allow them to compare you to an imaginary ideal, you will always lose. “You have concerns about what we do, OK, what is the alternative plan and how does it compare to me?

Even when you obliterate a world record, there is always someone else better, even if by just 4/10th of a second.