Play Your Best Game!

Dear Todd Cohen Sales Community,

Those of you who know me know I am not big on sports analogies – mainly because, well, I am just not that versed in sports and all of the rules and intricacies. However, in a recent conversation with Ray Jackson, a leading expert on innovative leadership and a former professional basketball player, we started to talk about the relationship between playing a sports game and selling. (I will admit to being a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan though!)

Ray was talking about how the best games are won when players play at their best and not just to the level of their opponent. If you are playing a superior team, then players will rise to the challenge and play the best game they can. If a mediocre team is being played, then both teams will play mediocre! In other words, players can win by 5 or by 50 points. I began to think about how that applied to the world of the sales professional and I want to share that with you and get your reaction.

As sales professionals, it is our absolute responsibility to play the best game we can on every sales call and interaction. We need to always educate, collaborate, and raise our game as much as possible. Every sales call is an opportunity to raise our clients’ expectations and our chance to deliver on them. I think the best sales professionals sell to the best of their ability all of the time. They never miss a chance to help the client get smarter and make good decisions. You can win by 50 if you have an informed and savvy client who inspires and motivates you to raise your game to sell as best as you ever have! If an average performing sales professional is not inspired by that same client who wants to do business, then he or she will not be as effective in conducting a great sales campaign. That person does not then stand the best chance possible to close the deal – and create a satisfied client!

Here is my challenge to the sales community-do you want to win by 5 or by 50?

As always, let me know what you think!

Good Selling!


3 thoughts on “Play Your Best Game!”

  1. I like two this about sports analogies, despite the bad rap they get:

    1. Most things in life are a team effort…a salesman is like a quarterback, or wide receiver…he relies on other teammates to make it all happen.

    2. Professional athletes have a strong motivation to get out and perform (aside from the paychecks): their every interaction is literally a performance.

    So, i think you should play to win, but to me it’s as simple as performing your best and honing your skills each and every day. That’s what communities like this sales community are all about. Spring training for sales pros. 🙂

  2. I’m big on sports and military history to help inspire me in my sales career – love of competition, never giving up,
    doing all you can to be the best at what you do, simple pride in yourself. When the barbarians are at the gates (i.e. economic downturns, tough competition, uninspired support staff, etc.) what are you going to do to overcome and win? Never forget that “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
    Go gettum!!

  3. Good points, Jacob, and the sports analogy goes even further — illustrating complexities and layers very similar to what we face in the corporate environment. For instance, you’re correct that it’s a team effort, but at the same time relies on strong individual performances (and identity in some cases). And in addition to the motivation to perform, top athletes take great pride in their careers and are highly disciplined and focused — it’s never “just a job” to them.

    I like the fact that the bottom line in athletics is performance — no room for excuses, you either get the stats or you don’t. While that parallel is loose in some parts of the business world (we all know corporate types that do nothing), it’s completely true in sales. You either produce your number or you don’t. Like an athlete, the performance of the sales professional boils down to a number. If you look at Todd’s Sales Success Triangle, you’ll find a host of suggestions that are geared to do just that — getting your number.

    Of course, we can continue to find more parallels — that’s the beauty of a rich metaphor!

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