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A lesson from Elite sports for business owners who also have to sell

An insight for accidental salespeople; those people building a business out of something they love and care deeply about who also have to sell their product or service to others. Seasoned Sales Professionals might find the reminder useful.

I was connecting dots backwards, yesterday, on the ruthless reality of winning in the sales game.

The primary trigger was Thom Gibbons’ ‘Overcoming Business Hurdles’ talk at a Guildford Business Hub event yesterday.

Whilst driving to my next meeting I connected Thom’s talk to the mindshare in our last IoD Surrey 859 mindshare meeting which I facilitate each month. We were discussing the business lessons we can learn from elite sports (We are fortunate in our IoD Surrey community to count Olympians and other Elite sportspeople, among our successful business men and women  members.)

Thom’s talk, whilst on the surface, humorous, was hard hitting, with some tough lessons for all of us.  It was his ‘Play the Board’ exhortation that bought me back to some outstanding observations within that IoD meeting and sparked this insight.

Thom used the example of winners in the World Professional Darts Championship who ‘Play the darts board’. They don’t play each other. With each throw they know what they need to aim for next to exit on a double.

Much of the IoD mindshare was focused on the nature of winning, loosing, being evaluated and Judged; the nature of mindset, motivation, resilience and purpose.

Thom’s trigger locked my mind onto these two comments from the IoD meeting:

From John Hubbell, Olympian: ‘Elite sports people are different because they deeply know the real  meaning of failure. Failure becomes a spur to success’. Interestingly, this was the first thing John said on the subject. Note that well and carefully – his first contribution to the mindshare was not the glory of winning but the deep learning from failure.

From Mark Taylor, a seasoned sales pro who regularly went head to head with the big beasts in his market: ‘There is no Second Place, no silver medal in sales you either win the sale or you lose it’.

So, to my insight:

In sales, there is no podium, the winner takes it all. Forget silver and bronze, forget the comfort of commiserations and gratitude for taking part. There is no reward, beyond learning, for those who did not win the deal.

And my question for you:

How do you deeply embed your lessons learned from each sales competition failure?

Thoughts? comments?

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