What Separates Great Salespeople
Writer's Note: In a 1-on-1 conversation with a #sportsbiz sales rep last week, during my free coronavirus trainings, they asked me a great question. 'What separates great salespeople?' I start EVERY one of of my sales trainings with the same story about this. I wrote this article for my old blog in June of 2016...but I think it's critical to think about right now with a lot of the time reps have on their hands.
Earlier this summer I read the incredible book, Boys Among Men, by Jonathan Abrams. In the book, Abrams beautifully wove the stories of all the prep-to-pro generation stars...the ones who changed the face of basketball and those who washed out. As I read the book, I came to believe that Abrams was trying to accomplish two objectives. First, was the prep-to-pro an overall good for the sport of basketball. Second, what were the key differences between those who succeeded versus that that did not. I'm going to focus on the second question.
From what I was able to ascertain, when it came to the differences between those who succeeded and those who did not, Abrams isolated three factors. The first and least important was talent. Most of these players, MVP's and waived players alike, were extraordinarily talented. That's why they were drafted into the pros.
The second factor was the internal support the players received. While this was not the most critical, it is incredibly important. When a player was drafted into an organization, did the organization step away or did they treat them like the 18-year old they are? For those organizations that just let the high schoolers go, the results were incredibly mixed. It's hard to put an 18-year old in a situation like that and hope for the best. Also, it's hard to give a 23-year old a phone and just hope they'll be successful. We need to train, nurture, coach, and support them to success...and yet I'm not sure how good a job of that we do in sports ticket sales.
Finally, and most importantly, the biggest difference came down to the make up of the players themselves. For those that did not make it, Abrams saw that they looked at making the NBA as the reaching their goal. For those that succeeded, they saw making the NBA as the first step. The next was making the Rookie/2nd Year Game, then the All-Rookie Team, then an All-Star Team, then the All-NBA Team, then an MVP. They were as passionate about reaching the next level as they were to reach the last one. As salespeople, we have to always keep our next step in mind as we are doing our current job. This should not keep us from doing our job, rather motivate us to reach that next level...regardless of the amount of effort it takes.
This book was an absolutely incredible read...and I couldn't recommend it more. The takeaways, from a sales perspective, for me were very real. We need to be doing more at our teams to develop our talent, sure, but it's a double edged sword. More and more, current Account Executives need to take the responsibility of accountability with them when they sell. That is, if you want to be great.