Going for the Gold: How to Be a Sales Olympian
08.10.16 | Job Search & Career | Chelsey Canavan, Marketing Manager at Treeline, Incorporated
It’s that time of year again. It’s the 2016 Summer Olympics. It’s a time when the best in the world compete on a global stage. Over 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries are competing in Rio right now with the dream of bringing home the gold.
I admire these athletes. They once again prove that success is not an overnight achievement. They all have stories of success and failure and what it takes to get to the Olympics. No one is going into this arena, hoping to come in 3rd (not that there is anything wrong with that). It’s more about having the mentality that you will not fail. That you will give it your all to win/place among the most elite athletes.
I am a sucker for athlete and sports analogies…
You’re in sales because you want to be the best. You’re in a competitive industry where you must win deals and hit quota to succeed. High performance means great rewards. It’s Q3, and it’s not a time to let your foot off the gas pedal. It’s time to go for the gold.
If you’re going to be a Sales Olympian, you need to not only possess strong sales characteristics, but be able to outperform your competition.
If you’re going to the Sales Olympics, this what you need to do:
Have a Dream
First things first. Have a goal. Without this, you are lost. It’s not enough to just say you want to be the best. Understand what you want to achieve. Is it to be the top sales rep of the month? Close the biggest deal in company history? Make it to President’s Club? Your goal is your compass. Focus on it.
Make a Game Plan
Once you have your goals set, you need to outline a strategy to map your path to success. If you want to hit 120% of quota every month, what is it going to take? Reduce it to the ridiculous.
- How many calls will you have to make?
- How many hours will you have to hunt and prospect?
- How many demos will you have to give?
- How many follow-up emails/calls will you have to do?
Understand what you need to accomplish every day to make this goal a reality.
Practice Until It Hurts
In sales, just like sports, practice makes perfect. Don’t expect a deal to close on your first call. Don’t expect every email you send to get a response. Don’t think your sales pitch is going to work with every prospect. Be willing to put in the long hours. Do your research on prospective clients. Hone your sales skills. Work with your managers to set up sales training. Collaborate with your co-workers. Work and rework your techniques until you find what works.
Don’t Just Say, Do
Get out of your own head. Don’t psych yourself out. Like Nike says, “Just Do It.” Pick up the phone and make the calls. Get to the office early, stay late. Go above and beyond to service your customers. Stop making excuses. Follow the one push-up rule. Commit to doing one push-up each day, meaning focus on accomplishing one task every day. For instance, make the extra cold call at the end of the day. You will likely make another one after that. Make things happen. No one is going to hand you success. You have to want it and go after it.
Play to Your Strengths
Identify your weaknesses and recognize your strengths. Are you great at generating activity and setting up demos? Keep up the great work. Understand why you are great at it. Is it because you have strong time management skills? Or you are great at prospecting? What sets you apart from the competition?
Track Your Gains
Tracking your efforts is important. I can’t emphasize this enough. It is essentially your playbook. If you’re not recording your efforts, how are you going to improve? How will you know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong? All the Olympic athletes have training routines. What did it take to run their fastest race? How much did they have to lift each day, to win the competition? How many hours did they have to practice to perfect the perfect volleyball spike?
In sales you need to understand:
- How did you get to be top sales rep of the month?
- How did you close the biggest deal?
- How did you do 30 demos for the month?
Get Back Up
You’re going to get knocked down. In sports, just like sales, failure is part of the game. You’re going to have some really big wins, and you’re going to have some losses. Anticipate failure and be able to overcome it. You’re going to face objection and rejection. You need to be resilient. If you let a bad day get you down and are unwilling to get back up, you’re not going to the Olympics.
Stick to the Routine
Consistency is key. Sales is an activity-driven role. You must constantly be pushing forward. If you had a great month, don’t get distracted. Don’t confuse a great month with a great year. Great athletes don’t work out when “they feel like it.” They put in the long hours to be the best. They will consistently practice, and follow their routine and coaching to get better. Just because they won a regional or national contest, doesn’t guarantee they will win the Olympics.
Like it or not, you will have to make sacrifices in order to be the best. I am tired of people saying you can have it all. That you can be successful only working a few hours a week. Truthfully, I have never met anyone that has built a great career working only a few hours. Sometimes you will have to come into work early, and stay late. Not always, but you will until you figure out what works for you. Olympians work incredibly hard and have made sacrifices to get where they are. Remember, no one is forcing you, but if you want to succeed it’s all in or nothing. It’s your choice.
You Have to Have Heart
This is what truly makes you a Sales Olympian. You have to believe in what you’re doing. If you don’t, then why are you doing it? As cliché as it might seem, you have to believe in yourself. No one is ever going to want something for you as badly as you do.
After all is said and done, you can see why only a fraction of the world’s top athletes compete in the Olympics. Only a few athletes will be gold-medalists in their career. Not every great athlete will make it to the Olympics, and not every great sales rep will be the best. So the question is will we see you in the winner’s circle?