Do you like to practice?
I have marveled at the seemingly supernatural skills of athletes like Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, and Larry Bird. Each was an incredibly gifted athlete, but the players that I am in awe of the most are guys like “Pistol Pete” Maravich. Why? Despite his average physical talents, one could argue that he was the greatest basketball player of all time!
With breathtaking creativity and showmanship, Maravich could light up a crowd like no other athlete before or after his time! But what made him special wasn’t that he was the most gifted player in the game, it was that his love for basketball compelled him to practice for countless hours of practice above and beyond what others were willing or able to invest.
In early 2002, I managed a group of advertising sales professionals for a start-up company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We were fortunate to attract several experienced professionals that had been tremendously successful in previous positions. Although the team initially had success, within a few months sales went flat. As we assessed the issue, we determined that our sales presentations to prospective buyers were inconsistent and even our seasoned professionals were falling prey to a number of bad habits.
The biggest problem was that we weren’t investing the time to be great.
Early in my sales career, I worked for a sales manager that made us practice our sales presentation in front of the entire sales and marketing organization. Essentially, we used the entire team to coach and critique individual presentations. As you can imagine, this put tremendous stress on each rep to get better, but over time our stress actually subsided and was replaced by confidence! The sales team actually argued for the opportunity to practice in front of their peers. The presentations produced by this kind of “practice” session were consistent and produced consistent, reliable results.
At the advertising company, I decided that every Monday morning at 7:00 am the sales team would “practice” their sales presentations in front of the entire group. The results were spectacular! The team practiced delivering an effective presentation that stressed our competitive advantages, and it made an immediate impact on the number of customers who purchased our products and services.
As a side note, the most important benefits of the practice sessions were the “trust” and rapport that the sales group built with each other. As with my earlier experiences, the team struggled at first, but soon learned to enjoy our Monday practice sessions.
The point is that high-performance salespeople aren’t necessarily more talented than you. Usually, they just want it more than you! They put in countless hours of preparation, planning, and practice in order to get it right in front of the customer.
To be extraordinary, approach selling in the same way that Pistol Pete approached basketball – with passion. Please tell me how your sales team or you individually prepare to be the best!
I’m thrilled to be part of this “helping each other” community. Thanks for your generosity and support.
Bruce Riggs serves as the Leadership Practice Leader for Career Development Partners and president of The Sales Coaching Group™. Bruce is a trained executive with 3 decades and 60,000 hours of real-world experience serving start-ups and Fortune 100 companies. He works with executive level (C-Suite) and emerging leaders.
He has a diverse and highly successful background working with start-up, mid-size, and Fortune 100 companies. He brings a unique perspective to clients throughout the United States. He teaches leaders how to grow and thrive in environments in which people can operate at their best.
Riggs innovative views has earned him invitations to speak with an array of leaders including corporate, entrepreneurs, military and government organizations.