What Sports Taught Me About Sales

Growing I always played sports. From tee-ball and Vince Lombardi (a.k.a. Pop Warner) all the way up through college where I played four years of lacrosse. Little did I know at the time, but all the time spent practicing and playing games has helped to prepare myself for a career in sales. The dedication, the camaraderie, the shared vision and goals, are necessary in both sports and sales.

So I wanted to share with where I think I was able to leverage my athletic upbringing into a successful career in sales.

  • You Snooze, You Lose: This was my motto for lacrosse. I never picked up a lacrosse stick until I was a sophomore in high school. I spent countless hours standing behind the brick church across the street playing catch against a wall. My fear was that if I was not working, someone else was. This is the same mentality for sales. If you are not working on a prospect, someone else is. If you’re not practicing your craft to get better, someone else is. Sales is a competition, the best sales person gets promoted, gets more money, gets a raise, so it’s always time to work.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: I could not imagine going into a football game in high school without practicing. Sure, we could draw plays in the dirt, but how long would that really work? Practice makes perfect with sales as well. At one point in my career, I spent an entire week memorizing a presentation so that I could talk to the presentation without it looking rehearsed. Many hours were spent in front of a mirror with a voice recorder in order to effectively practice this presentation. The end result was an increase in sales.
  • There is no “I” in “Team”, but there is a “Me”: My father, who coached me all through youth football, always used the acronym for TEAM; Together Everyone Achieves More. When you are playing in a team sport, this is very true. But there is also a “me” element. If you do not try your best, then the team suffers.  I was once in a position where the bonus structure was based on personal performance, office performance, and the company as a whole. Under this compensation plan, it was imperative for everyone to work as a team as much as possible. Different sales people have different strengths; do not be afraid to call in some help if needed.
  • Underclassman look up to Upperclassman: When I decided to go to college and play lacrosse, it was comforting to know that I had upperclassman to help me in my transition. These guys taught me what to expect when it came to pre-season, practice, and games. I looked up to these guys as they have already been there, knew what to expect, and had the ability to teach me.  I have been on both sides of this interaction in my sales career. There have been times where the senior sales reps have been gracious to lend a hand and have helped ease the transition into a new position. On the other hand, one time I had senior sales reps blow me off, and tell me that I do not have enough industry experience, and that they could not help me. Guess which one lead to a better working relationship? I’m sure it’s not that hard to figure out!

I’m sure that there are more similarities between sports and sales. I just wanted to share a few that I truly believe in.

If you have some other similarities between sports and sales, I invite you to share them.

6 Thoughts on “What Sports Taught Me About Sales

  1. Great post, Mickie. I totally see the correlation between sports and business. As someone new to the scene, I definitely agree with your final point about underclassmen and upperclassmen. It’s so important to have experienced people to rely on for the transition to be smooth. At the same time, experienced people aren’t always willing to lend that helping hand. It’s tough being the new kid. I always loved the idea of working as hard as you can because, out there somewhere, someone is working harder than you. It’s always helped me keep motivation and drive. I wish, however, there was some life or business lesson I could draw from, “Get ‘em choppin’.”

  2. Doug McSorley on February 10, 2010 at 11:53 am said:

    Great posting Miguel. You brought up some great examples. Amazing how sports can help us down the road, isn’t it? :)

  3. Miguel — While I don’t have a sports background, I think one to add would be “Play to Win.” I don’t mean winning at any cost – but rather being strategic, having a vision, and goal to be the best at what you do. Thanks for the comprehensive post. Well done.

  4. Thanks Jay for bringing back old memories of “Up Downs”. I thought football practice was tough, but it was nothing compared to college lacrosse. I agree, it is always better if you have more experienced people to rely on. However, if you don’t, as in one of my past situations, it drove me to surpass everything that he/she did. Its all about the competition.

  5. Sports has made me what I am today! You deduct what you will from that statement.

  6. Great addition Miguel. You are spot on. Playing to win is the only way to go. As they say, second place is the first loser!

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