What Do Professional Athletes And Professional Sales People Have In Common?

The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself;
to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.


I?ve always believed that being a professional athlete and a professional salesperson have a lot in common.

As a pro athlete, you wake every morning starting again at zero, understanding that your success is based on how you perform in the next game. There is no tenure, no taking it easy because you had a great game yesterday?it?s today?s game that matters.

Sales is much the same. What matters is how you perform today. To be successful, you need to be 100% in the game every day?whether you feel like it or not.

Like pro sports, sales is performance-based. I?m a huge fan of professional golf. I believe it?s one of the purest sports there is. There are no lucrative long-term contracts like baseball, football, hockey, or basketball. There is no team to pick up the slack when you?re down. You?re on your own. Moreover, you?re paid based on your success in each tournament. Much like sales, you only get paid when you perform.

Yes, some professional golfers have enormous endorsement contracts, but they got these because of their past performance and most of the compensation that comes from them is paid out based on future performance.

Sales and Sports Are Both Mental Games

What has intrigued me about golf lately is the number of players that now have mental coaches. For decades, fitness coaches, swing coaches and putting coaches have been commonplace, but more and more athletes now use mental coaches to take their game to the next level.

Dr. Bob Rotella has been the mental coach guru on the tour for years. He began at a time when it was almost unheard of to have a mental coach. When he started to produce great results for the likes of Tom Kite and Nick Price years ago on the PGA tour, many other players took notice. Now a mental coach has become as common as a swing coach.

Why the boost in mental coaching popularity? While physical coaching might create skill and technique, players have struggled for years to figure why one day they can shoot 65, and the next day fumble their way to 75. Clearly it?s not about ability?after all, they had the skill to shoot 65 the day before. It?s about what?s going on in their heads.

It has been said that 80% of success in golf is what goes on between the ears. Sales is no different. Why does a salesperson have a great couple of days, weeks or months and then go into a slump? It?s not about ability?it?s about mentality. It?s what?s going on upstairs. Like athletic slumps, all sales slumps are mental.

The difference between the good and the great in sports and in sales is not how we perform on the days we feel like performing. It?s how we perform on the days we don?t. It?s not how what we do when our confidence is high, it?s what we do when our confidence is low. The difference is almost entirely psychological.

Just like great athletes, great salespeople don?t just have the ability to perform at a high level. They have the ability to do it more often than the rest.

How do you keep your mental sales game sharp? Let us know in the comments!