The Sport of Selling

Actually, selling is not a sport but there are a lot of similarities between selling and some sports. Let’s explore some of those similarities and what you can learn from sports to improve your sales performance.

By sports, I’m referring to such sports as baseball, hockey, football, tennis, soccer, and other sports involving some skill and interaction with other people.

The Similarities

The superstars in both selling and sports make a lot of money, although it seems to me that there’s a lot more money in sports.

The less-than superstars in both selling and sports can make a very comfortable living.

There are a lot of wannabees in both selling and sports, many of whom should probably be doing something else for a living.

It takes a lot of drive, desire, and discipline to really succeed in both selling and sports.

There is a fundamental set of skills required in both selling and sports, and there is nothing inherently complex about either, just a set of simple rules to follow.

While I’m sure there are more similarities, these are the ones that stick out in my mind.

The Differences

Let’s take a look at some of the differences that exist between selling and sports.

In sports, people will practice and train for years for a few moments of glory whereas, in selling, people train and practice for a few moments and expect years of glory.

In sports, you’re on the playing field for a couple of hours at a time and sometimes only once or twice a week, and then only a few seasons of the year. In selling, you’re on the playing field eight hours a day, five days a week, fifty weeks of the year.

In sports, when you lose a game, you have your teammates to console you. In selling, when you lose a sale, you have to pick yourself up and get on to the next opportunity.

In sports, if the team consistently loses, they fire the coach, not the players. In selling, if the team doesn’t do well, they fire the salespeople, not the sales manager.

In sports, most teams have a coach whose sole purpose is to work with the players to help them achieve their best. In selling, the team may have a sales manager who, because of time constraints, usually limits his coaching, if done at all, to a few moments at the weekly or monthly sales meeting.

Coaching for Success

I strongly believe that both sports and sales should have strong coaches whose prime purpose is to get the best out of their people. Show me a professional sports team without a coach and I’ll show you a disorganized team at the bottom of their league.

It’s often the same with sales teams. The best sales teams have a coach, usually called a sales manager, even if it’s only on a part-time basis.

The rest are left to their own devices. That doesn’t mean they need to be without a coach, it just means they need to coach themselves. It can be done.

What Coaches Do

Coaches—good coaches—observe, comment, correct, and encourage.

When coaches observe, they have a mental checklist of things to watch for, things that can make a difference to the person’s performance. They bring the areas requiring correction to the player’s attention with their comments and usually offer suggestions for improvement. Lastly, they offer encouragement and support.

Be the Best You Can Be

Good and great salespeople didn’t get that way by sitting around waiting for something to happen; they made things happen.

You can do the same. Get a coach to increase your sales success. Do it today.

For more information on sales coaching and training, please refer to The Right Skills.

Salesforce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm and registered Consulting Partner based in Toronto, with offices in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, salesforce implementation, sales training and sales personnel assessments.