Sports & Sales: Same Game

Apr 2, 2019

It’s NCAA  Final Four week. Baseball has started & the NHL & NBA Playoffs are right around the corner. How timely! Athletes will be in action for sure! Can’t tell you how many clients we have that make it a point, & go out of their way, to hire athletes for their sales teams. If you’re wondering why we’d be happy to walk you through 5 reasons it makes a lot of sense.

  1. Competitiveness

Unless you sell every single prospect that you get in front of, or you’re undefeated for the season, the crappy days will outweigh the good days in sales & sports – by a lot. It takes a special kind of person to say, I love this job on such days. It’s a rare breed that has the fortitude to get up again tomorrow & do it all over again. To want it that bad. The word competitivedescribes it perfectly.

There’s debate over who said this, (I’ll contend it’s NHL Head Coach, Scotty Bowman): “It’s not how good you are, it’s how bad you want it.” One of the greatest quotes of all time. Probably the truest, too. Think about the salespeople you know (maybe even the ones in your own office). Are the smartest ones the most successful? Doubt it. Are the most committed (hardest workers & the ones that want it the most) the most successful? Good chance. There’s something about someone’s competitive spirit that shines. When others give up, competitive people get more information, move deals forward & execute – because it’s their nature.

Ask yourself this question: What describes me more? I love to win? Or I hate to lose? In this case the haters win. Show me someone who can’t stand to lose & I’ll take them on my team every day of the week!

  1. Accountability (Self-Responsibility)

One of the most ridiculous things to see in the NBA is the sour-puss, whiner that thinks he’s just been fouled. He looks at the ref with that face that makes you think the worst thing in the world has just happened to him. On par with that is the NHLer that gets stood up hard in the neutral zone, drops his stick, throws his arms & completes one of the best dives you have seen since Greg Louganis in the Olympics.

It’s always the refs fault. Unless it isn’t. Every office has a salesperson or two with that same sour-puss. Maybe it’s production’s fault. Perhaps they blame the leads (or lack of them). At times it’s fun to blame the competitor. My favorite: Our own pricing. The best is when we hear, “I could have made the sale if only our price was lower!”

Send me a better salesperson. One that points the finger right between her own eyes when deals go south. That’s a stand-up salesperson. That’s accountability. Blaming others for your lack of results is easy – it also leads to zero growth. Zero.

  1. Commitment

Doing whatever it takes to get the job done – whether you like it or not. That’s commitment. Champion basketball players shoot 200-300 free throws after practice. Superstar hockey players ride the bike for 45 minutes after a practice or game. Because they want to? Not at all. Because they know what happens if they don’t.

How many salespeople in your office show up between 8:30 & 9:00 AM. Don’t get a thing done until 10:30 or 11:00 AM. Take a 1.5 to 2-hour lunch & leave by 3:30 (claiming they are “stopping by the customer” on the way home). Riiiiiight. We’re on to you, Charlie – not fooling anyone.

Show me a salesperson that sticks it out, does the hard things, at the unpopular times & I’ll show you a winner. They are the ones mopping the deals up when the “also-rans” are slacking. Commitment: you can’t teach it.

  1. Attitude

Attitude is how we feel about things. Some people (& you know who you are) have dismal attitudes. They bring everyone around them down. It’s the SNL Debbie Downeror Bob the Bummerskit. You know these people. They never have a good thing to say about anything. Too many meetings. Not enough parking spots. Traffic is ridiculous. Gas prices are too high. My kid’s coach is a jerk. Our prices are too high. My client is a jack-ass. HR isn’t fair. Management stinks. Do yourself a favor don’t park anywhere near these people & never, ever go to lunch with them.

Why is it someone always makes the sale – be it you or your competitor? Last time we checked, we are all playing by the same rules: Same market, same geography, same client-base, same product, same pricing. So, why are we out-sold so often? The 6 inches between our ears, that’s why. Attitude.

In every PGA golf tournament there is a new, young golfer, who does very well during Thursday, Friday & Saturday’s rounds. Come Sunday, when he’s up against the “real champion”, why does he choke? Why does he miss the 4-footers that were dropping like flies the past 3 days? Attitude, that’s why. He feels nervous & he hopes he makes it. The champion knows he’s going to make it. Just like the last 500 he made in practice. Just another day to the champ. He’s got the attitude. Feels right.

  1. Love of the Game (Product)

How many of you can’t wait to get up, kick the sheets off, & do whatever it is you do for a living? How many would do it at 11:30 PM & feel just the same? You would if you loved what you sold. If you loved your product. If you loved your job. If you had passion.

You spend so many hours “at work” it’s a shame to not love it. Aside from sleeping, most everyone reading this blog spends more time at work than they do with their families. How can you notlove it?

Lindsey Vonn just retired from skiing. Was there any doubt when you saw her at the bottom of the mountain, that she loves skiing? There is no question before, during & after a tennis match, that Serena Williams is doing her life’s passion – she wouldn’t want to do anything else. They love what they do. Find your passion or find new work.

These are 5 of many reasons why companies hire athletes for their sales teams. You may have to fight to get them, there will likely be competition, but it’ll pay off in the long run.

Dave Tear

Founder & Coach at Sales Coaches Corner
Dave Tear is a high-impact sales coach and trainer. He puts science to a very artful profession.
Dave Tear