Go For The Gold: Winning Sales Lessons
From the Wide World of Sports
By Michael Guld
sports spectacles were as exciting as watching the 2008 Summer
Olympics in Beijing! Millions tuned in around the world as Michael
Phelps shattered previous Olympic records to become the most
decorated Olympic athlete of all time.
Phelps was asked by Meredith Vieira on the Today Show what
his coach Bob Bowman did most for him, Phelps replied Bowman
encouraged him to “use your imagination, to shoot for the stars and
to see the future.” But his coach also pushed him to the point of
exhaustion, and when Bowman thought that was all Phelps could take,
Bowman would push him even more.
who are passionate about their sports dream of competing in
the Olympics, or winning the Super Bowl, World Series or Stanley Cup
of their sport. As the odds suggest, few ever get that opportunity;
however, those who do commit themselves to a disciplined life of
practice and training, understanding that raw talent is not the only
ingredient for success. There are thousands of talented athletes
who do not have the drive, determination and discipline it takes to
succeed as a world-class athlete.
theory holds true in the business arena. The world is full of
“would-be” sales superstars. Most every professional would say he
or she wants to be a top producer in the company and wants
to make a lot of money; just as many people want to lose
weight and want to be in shape. The problem is, there is no
commitment involved in wanting something. Many salespeople
spend their time hoping for the big account to come through,
waiting for new assigned accounts to come their way and
praying that economic conditions improve. But the truth is, only
the doing part actually leads to success. In fact,
the biggest reason most salespeople fail is not for lack of
knowledge, it’s that they do not have consistency of behavior
to do what they know needs to be done on a daily basis.
times, just like in the case of Michael Phelps, a “coach” or a sales
manager’s role is crucial. It is part visionary, part trainer, but
mostly as a developer of talent to bridge the gap between
potential and performance. He or she is not there to
motivate you … it is to hire independently motivated individuals
and challenge and inspire each one to reach peak performance. Their
job is not to discipline you, but to hire self-disciplined
individuals who will create good habits without having to be
micromanaged. Their job is not to instill passion, but to
hire passionate people who love what they do and commit to being the
best in their given field.
there are no guarantees for Olympic victory, there are no guarantees
for triumph in the streets of sales. However, there are action
steps that if implemented, will greatly improve your odds for
Focus on fundamentals and execution. There’s an old saying, “If
you spend all your time watching the scoreboard, the ball’s going to
hit you in the face.” While the U.S. basketball team was keenly
aware of the score, their focus and energy was not on the
scoreboard, but on the execution of their game strategy. Too often
in sales, account executives and their managers become fixated on
their sales sheets (scoreboard). Instead, if they practiced the
sales fundamentals and executed their sales strategy, the scoreboard
(sales sheets) would take care of itself.
View sales as a marathon. If sales were an Olympic sport, it
would be a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. The most successful
salespeople take a long-term focus on making their career, not just
making their month. Look at daily, weekly and monthly billing as
games, and look at the year as the season. Play for the year! You
cannot manage your sales, you can only manage your time, your focus,
your accounts, and your selling strategies. When effective, the
sales will take care of themselves.
Practice the right technique. To be a top athlete, little is
more important than training on the right technique.
Practicing the wrong technique will do little to help an athlete’s
career. The same is true in sales. Too often, sales people attend
a one-day session, leaving excited and fired up about all the new
tools and techniques presented, only to return to their offices to
do the same things the same way. They can hear all the theories,
and learn all the techniques, but as the athletes know, there
is a big difference between seeing drills and learning the drills.
Hearing what to do and seeing what to do does not
translate to knowing what to do until you (as Nike suggests)
“just do it.”
Practice those winning techniques daily. Sales training works
only when a dedication to self-improvement is combined with daily
application and practice of what is learned. While
having a positive attitude is important, when it’s combined
with positive activities you will finally see positive
results. As you increase your competence, you will have an
increase in confidence. As your confidence increases, so does your
activity. As your activity increases your results will follow!
Feel it, see it, visualize it. Most Olympians would agree that
their biggest competition in their quest for the gold may not be
other athletes, nor is it the physical routines; most likely, it’s
the voices in their heads. There is usually a direct correlation
between their confidence level going in to an event and their
performance. If they visualize themselves nailing a routine, their
chances are much greater than if they begin tentative and fearful of
failure. The same is true in sales. A confident seller coming off
the heels of a great sale will fair much better than those
struggling with self-confidence. Visualize yourself achieving
success and then “fake it until you make it.” Imagine that everyone
is excited to talk with you.
Focus on your goals, not your obstacles. Whether you are going
for Olympic gold or playing for “salesperson of the month,” there
will always be obstacles. Typically, the bigger the goals, the
greater the obstacles. However, a billboard for Accenture said it
best, as it depicts Tiger Woods trying to hit around a tree that
reads “they are only obstacles if you cannot see around them.”
Recognize obstacles, but don’t let them stop you.
Recovery is part of the process. Rodeo riders know there will be
times that you will get thrown off the horse. But they also know
that if you don’t get right back on, your confidence will wane and
fear will set in. The same is true in sales. The quicker you
recover from a lost sale or an unsuccessful appointment, the sooner
you will be back in the game.
would agree, the Olympics were entertaining … but were they
inspiring? Did they influence, arouse or motivate a change
of behavior that will produce a change of results?
What the world experienced was the end result of many days, weeks,
months, and years of disciplined hard work and training. Do you have
what it takes You never know until you “go for the gold.”
Read other articles and learn more
about Michael Guld.
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