Recently, I heard an interview on sports radio with a successful NFL coach. The topic was about the commitment required to improve, regardless of an individual’s skill level. The coach would ask his players, “Are you playing football because you love the game? Or are you playing because you love all the attention and ‘stuff’ you get from playing?” Only one answer makes you a professional. It becomes the catalyst for everything you do. It’s the difference between being good and being great.
Why Are You in Sales?
- Because you enjoy the game?
- Because you enjoy the money?
- Or, because nothing else panned out?
Your answer tells a lot about you and the level of sales success you’ll achieve.
Are you in sales because nothing else panned out?
Understandably, this isn’t something people easily admit.
However, throughout my 20+ years of sales experience, I’ve
seen 30% to 50% of all salespeople fall into this bucket. If you’re in this category, it doesn’t make you a bad person or mean you don’t have talent. It just means the career you’ve migrated to might not be the best fit for your strengths and talents. Every now and then you might make a great play,
but overall the game is a mental and physical struggle. You shouldn’t be in sales if your success depends on the rare Hail
Mary pass. Although it might sound harsh, you know if you fall into this category.
Stop fighting it and do something about it.
Nothing changes until you decide to change.
Are you in sales because you enjoy the money and perks?
Before any coaching engagement, I send a questionnaire to
the sales team. I ask each person what he or she likes most
about sales. Everyone ranks eight choices in order of personal priority. The top four are always the same: money,
winning, autonomy, and challenge.Here’s what’s wrong with that answer:You’re not listening. All four choices focus on what you want. Your effort, focus, and mindset are first and foremost about the payoff. This isn’t entirely bad, for it provides the drive and willingness to take risks (such as prospecting and provoking). However, focusing on the outcome is counter-intuitive to how and why your prospects buy. When your drive is too intense, you’ll unintentionally tune out much of the conversation and focus only on what you want to hear. In football, that’s like a wide receiver hustling only during the plays when he receives the ball.You’re minimizing your potential without realizing it. You work hard at many aspects of the sales game that provide a payoff – and in some situations it’s debatable if there even is a payoff. Your time-and-money philosophy may keep you moving, but it doesn’t allow you to step back and assess if your actions
are really aligned with your goals. You become closed off to opportunities for improvement if they don’t line up with your need for a quick fix, which in turn minimizes
You’re on a whole different playing field—and in a
whole different game. The standards and dynamics of the marketplace continue to change. The reasons your prospects make decisions will continue to evolve, too. Are you willing and able to accept this to learn more about yourself and develop new skills to stay competitive? Using the NFL analogy, players with versatility are more valuable. If your focus continues to be on what you want off the field (like a great bonus check), you’ll put your future game at risk because you’re not willing to commit to improvement. What happens next is you get traded to a different team or your team decides to run a different offensive play. Even if you work hard, you risk becoming obsolete because you didn’t broaden your skillset.
Are you in sales because you enjoy the game?
Answering yes to this question makes all the difference. It makes you great, maybe even one of the best. Enjoying the sales game has a direct impact on everything you do or don’t do. Most importantly, it drives your commitment to be the best, for all the right reasons. The will to win and the drive to
earn money aren’t negative – in fact, they’re very
important motivators. However, when these goals become your
entire focus, they will hold you back from improving, evolving and achieving.
The key is balance. To achieve it, try the following:
This is one of the most important and most underutilized techniques for improving sales performance. When you’re focused on the end result – what you generate monetarily – it’s not easy to prioritize practice. Your inner voice is always saying, “I don’t have time, but I’ll get to it eventually.”
When you play for the love of the game,
committing time to learn and improve becomes part of the joy and adrenaline rush.
Commit to Action.
The most successful professionals (not always defined by financial success) have an innate thirst for and commitment to continuous improvement. We all know people who can
rattle off philosophies they learned in books as though they’re plastered inside their eyelids. This ability is only superficially impressive. Jerry Rice and the other legendary
greats of the NFL prepared and practiced diligently for the love
of the game alone.
Align Your Mindset to Your Goals.
Sales professionals who love the game can
shift their mindsets from what they want (money, winning, bragging rights) to what’s best for the team
(which, in sales, includes prospects and clients).
This enables them to sell at a higher and more consistent
level. Sure, the “stuff” can be a lot of fun, but the real focus should be on continually improving your game so you can deliver more for your team.
The Difference Between A Salesperson and a Sales Professional
A salesperson worries about his or her job, ranking, recognition and money. A sales professional focuses on improvement, action and helping the team win. It’s never too late to become a professional. But remember, it’s not easy – which is why there are so few out there.