Let’s be perfectly clear. I have never played football and I am not a ‘groupie’ that is glued to the TV set each week watching my favourite team. However, I am an admirer of elite athletes because they demonstrate the mind-set, actions and behaviours needed to be an elite salesperson. They also possess emotional intelligence skills. Yes, these macho guys do have soft skills that help them win ball games.
So if you want to get better at sales, turn on the television, observe and incorporate the NFL players’ best practices into your day-to-day sales. Here are my top three favourites.
#1 They have the mental game mastered. Every week, these elite athletes that have been playing football for years show up to practice in order to execute under pressure. Think about the quarterback who is getting ready to throw the ball. He has huge line-backers charging him, hoping to get a ‘sack.’ The seasoned quarterback manages his emotions. He doesn’t get flustered and throws a perfect pass to a wide receiver that is also under pressure because he is also being chased by another big guy.
Emotion management is important in sales because it helps you execute hard selling skills under high pressured sales situations. (Have any of you ever left a meeting wondering why you didn’t say this or this?)
A salesperson may not be getting charged by a 300 pound line-backer, (although some sales calls can feel that way) but he is getting challenged by prospects to ‘give me your best price’ or answer, ‘what makes your company different?’
Top sales professional have the ability to manage emotions during tough selling situations. Like top athletes, they practice more than they play. They don’t just practice when they are in front of prospects!
As a result, they don’t get thrown ‘off their game’ by tough questions because they have an appropriate response. “Mr. Prospect, we will definitely get to price, but I am not sure
I have been able to ask enough questions around your challenges to determine if my company has the appropriate solutions. So it’s hard for me to quote a price.”
How would you rate your emotion management? How often are you practicing? Both skills are essential to executing hard selling skills.
#2: They like what they do. It always cracks me up to see a bunch of big, adult men hugging each other, dancing on the field or giving a high five after a good play or touchdown. These athletes love the game of football. And because they love the game, they are willing to put in the work of grueling practices. They take time to study game films in order to learn and correct mistakes.
In the emotional intelligence world, this is referred to as self-actualization. People that are self-actualized are always on a journey of personal and professional improvement.
Research shows that top salespeople possess this same trait. They are lifelong learners and lifelong sales producers.
How many of you love your job? How many of you love the profession of sales? The sad news is that many people default to the profession of sales rather than choose sales as a profession. You can spot ‘default individuals’ quickly. They never:
- Read or listen to a sales book in order to improve their skills. They are still pitching features, advantages and benefits.
- Ask for coaching or advice. They don’t ask for feedback because they aren’t looking to improve.
- Prepare. These individuals have decided to be average so they invest little or no time in pre-call planning. They show up to sales meetings without customized value propositions or carefully prepared questions. ‘Winging-it’ is their sales approach.
How would you rate yourself on self-improvement? Are you learning or lagging behind?
#3: They never give up. How many of you have watched a football game, where one team is behind in the fourth quarter and comes back to win the game? The best athletes give 110% until the whistle blows. They might be tired, they might be beat up, but they don’t give up.
Top salespeople operate with the same mentality. They never give up. They show up every day to play ball. If they lose an opportunity, their mind-set is I will win the next one.
Top salespeople, like top athletes, are optimistic and resilient. They don’t blame lack of results on anything but their own personal efforts. If the economy is bad, they work harder and smarter.
So the question is: Will you or your sales team be playing in the Sales Super Bowl this year?
About the Author
Colleen Stanley is founder and president of SalesLeadership Inc., a sales development firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, consultative sales training, emotional intelligence training, and leadership training for sales managers. She is the author of Growing Great Sales Teams and Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success. Reach Colleen at 303.708.1128 or visit www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.