The process of selling (and what we can learn from elite athletes)
If you are an elite sportsperson, you have a defined passion and purpose, you have trailed and proven routines, a focussed mind, you have committed to continual training and coaching, have a high pain tolerance, and have demonstrated resilience.
If you are striving to be the best Gymnast, golfer, sprinter, tennis player or swimmer, name your sport, your technique, your process is one of the most important elements.
A slight deviation at that level has dire consequences.
Some may be more gifted, think Michael, Jordan, tiger woods, some may be more flamboyant, Usain bolt, some may be dour but get the job done, Novak Djokovic.
For me my sport was rowing
Rowing is a highly technical, you require strength and endurance, and I had the good fortune to be coached by some of the best in the world.
Rowing by its nature is about process and then you layer on top strength, cardiovascular fitness, mindset, diet.
Did I ever row the perfect stroke in the hundreds of thousands I rowed?
Probably although during the 6 minutes of a 2000m race there would likely only be a handful as the conditions, fatigue, and other factors contributed.
But what has this got to do with the process of selling?
First you need a sales process.
Think of it as your golf swing, your tennis serves, your free throw, your floor routine, your rowing stroke.
We would have all either swung a golf club, hit a tennis ball, or tried a free thrown in basketball
And to start with we would have been pretty shit at it.
We had no process we just did what came naturally.
But the more we practiced and learned, the more we followed a process and got coached the better we became.
As you get better the basics become second nature, you do it without thinking, your highest level of ingrained learning kicks in enabling you to perform on bigger and bigger stages.
Closing the multi-million-dollar deals, competing at the Olympic Games.
Anyone competing at this level will tell you, if you deviate from your process your goose is cooked, your deal or game is over.
So what did I know about the process of selling?
I was fortunate in that I competed at World championships and commonwealth games at the same time I was starting to sell.
And back then no one showed me how to sell, I was thrown a set of car keys and had to figure it out myself.
So what did I know?
- I knew the power of a process, so I started developing one
- I knew the power of a winning mindset, so I used it
- I knew you learn more from loosing than winning so every rejection made me stronger
- I understood perseverance so I never gave up
- I had an abundance of confidence, so I believed.
- I knew I needed coaches, so I searched for and found then
- I knew I needed to learn so I read as much as I could (which wasn’t much back then)
- And I kept showing up, day after day
- I never gave up
- And eventually I started winning more deals than losing them
- I was never satisfied, I always wanted to improve so I sought out bigger and bigger challenges
Elite athletes from all sports follow a similar recipe for success.
And they all understand that their process always needs to be put under the microscope as when you are at the top of your game the one percenters are not little.
They are the difference between an Olympic gold medal and failing to even qualify.
Can your sales process compete at this level?
I was recently invited to facilitate for 90 days with one of the worlds most recognisable equipment brands, in Australia a sales team of over 60.
And as you would expect with a multi-billion-dollar multinational their process of selling was tight.
But as I dug deeper it was obvious that this high performing team needed some assistance.
What I was seeing from their sales process was incongruent with the brand they represented.
I started coaching them to make some small changes and to their credit the management and team embraced fully the techniques and changes I was asking them to make.
- Ninety days later discounting which was standard practice had reduced to a trickle
- They were getting better at selecting their clients
- The salespeople started getting time back
- Lead conversion rates started to rise.
As a specialist sales coach I was able to see things they could not.
Just like an elite athlete they needed an extra pair of eyes who is trained to pick up on the little things that make a big difference.
To improve their golf swing, their tennis serve, their sales process
What can we learn about sales from elite athletes?
Turns out quite a lot.
If you can see the benefit in having a professional coach look over your sales process, step 1 is to book a call.
You may also like to read this recent blog on the steps you may choose to take once you have identified underperforming sales talent https://thesalesstrategist.com.au/underperforming-sales-talent/