It’s fair to say that selling will never be an Olympic sport.  However, there are definitely similarities between the two.  For example, it takes a lot of motivation, passion and self-control to really achieve and maintain a high level of performance, in both selling, and sport.  Sure, there are some people who have the gift of the gab and will use it to get by in sales.  Likewise, some athletes seem to have more of a flair for certain sports than others, and use this to their advantage.  Regardless, it’s the training and preparation that brings the consistency needed to be successful enough to have longevity, or to make a career out of it.

It’s also important to remember it’s not all about winning.  Failure is inevitable and never the end of the world,. In sports, it could be a missed shot.  In sales, it could be an objection to buy you weren’t prepared for.  Failure is just a learning opportunity, but are you taking the time to learn from these mistakes, or just carrying on doing what you always do?

Sport 1 : Selling 0

Think about the concept of constant and never-ending improvement.  This comes naturally to a sports team, but it is shocking to see that there is very little of this mentality in sales.  Most professionals in sales roles, will spend 40 hours a week for most of the year working.  If they are lucky, they may get some sales training once or twice a year, amounting to just a few hours! Professional sports people spend hours and hours every week training, preparing to compete for just a few hours on a pitch, court, track etc..

If a sports team has a run of bad luck ,it is normally the manager that is sacked, whereas in sales, if the team don’t perform it is the sales team who are sacked and the manager keeps their job! Go figure!

Managing v Coaching

The role of a manager is setting the strategy, keeping the score and holding people to account.  Compare with the role of a coach, whose number 1 goal is to get the best performance out of the individuals they are coaching.  The coach is not necessarily directly responsible for the strategy and therefore the results, but they are there to identify the areas for improvement and work consistently at ways to achieve greater success.  Add this to the right strategy, and results will naturally come.

So what can we learn from this?  Well, if you run a sales team, think more about what you would do if you were running a top sports team.  How would you work with each of your team members?  Try go think more as if you are their coach than their manager.  However, if you don’t have time to do this, then bring in a professional coach to help train and build the sales skills of your team.

After all, if they fail, it is more a reflection of your management skills than their sales skills!