It’s 1981, Wayne Gretzky is awarded his first scoring title after his second full pro season in hockey. He immediately announces retirement, and starts interviewing for head coaching jobs. He settles for an assistant coaching job for the Yorkton Terriers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. After a couple disappointing seasons, he developed a lustful relationship with the Canadian Mist, and hasn’t been seen in public for nearly 20 years. Rumor has it that he runs the Zamboni for the Kalamazoo Wings under an alias, but those rumors are unsubstantiated.
Even if you don’t know hockey, you know what really happened. Gretzky played another 18 seasons in the NHL, retiring with 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and six All-Star records. His single season goal (92!) and assist (163!!!) records will likely never be broken, not even in the world of video games. He showed up every night to win. He’s the Great One for a reason.
In the world of Internet sales many of us never get the chance to be great. Most of us don’t get to play for a winning team for ten years. We’re not given the latitude to perpetually set records. We aren’t contenders for awards year after year. Our worth is measured every thirty days.
Unlike the superheroes of sports, we don’t have a league. Many of us don’t have sound ownership. We’re not surrounded by Hall of Fame players. We don’t have a dedicated coaching and training staff. Heck, some of us have to even buy our own equipment. The tangible Internet revenue isn’t of the same denomination as the ethereal and unsubstantiated lot revenue. Our all-star versatility is often overlooked by veteran seniority.
There’s a good reason why there are two “Internet Consultants” for every decent Internet Sales Manager. The best ISMs do not get the support and recognition they deserve. Time and time again, the best up-and-coming ISMs spend two to three years at one store, only to move on to another store, then onto 6-12 month stints with various vendors, intermittently working for themselves, while never duplicating their original success. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Instead of a long and rich career playing for the same team, most ISMs leave after their breakthrough season. Unfortunately, this creates a double-edged sword for our industry. Many talented prospects never reach their full potential before leaving for perceived greener pastures, while most owners don’t realize how much their last ISM meant to them until they are gone. Both sides can only reminisce of glory days gone by, while Internet sales growth and innovation stagnates in the Beer League.
What if these up-and-comers were given their due, like Gretzky? What if they were given Olympic-grade coaches and managers? What if they were surrounded by All Star teammates to help shoulder the load? What if they received lucrative compensation packages? Would they have built a dynasty, or been forced to chase the gravy train?
Maybe an owner needs to step-up to find out. A Great One may be in their midst.