7 Shared Secrets of Sales and Sports Superstars

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Sales Team Development

All salespeople know the pressure of targets, just like Premier League strikers are expected to score. In sport, getting an athlete to peak performance is a science. What can sales managers and directors learn from athletic coaches?

After legendary striker Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his 100th goal for Manchester United, his ‘mojo’ suddenly seemed to dry up. His teammates began to pass over the struggling striker, in favour of other, more dependable players. Supporters jeered the flailing striker. That didn’t help him get his mojo back. Ruud van Nistelrooy was well aware he was failing his job description.

ALSO READ: Building a Contact Nurture and Lead Generation Model in 2023

Support and encouragement does work

We all know the feeling: disappointment and helplessness when things aren’t going our way, when we’re missing targets, when a sale falls through. Piling on pressure is rarely the right answer to get someone back on track. Providing support and room for development is.  Not enough companies do this.

Raw talent isn’t enough

We want to be good at our jobs. We want to overperform and shoot for the stars. But, however great our innate ability, we’ll only be able to reach those dizzying heights if our company has a supportive and encouraging culture: a culture that is focused on making people better at what they do.

Keep asking:  Is it working?

Usually, management assumes that salespeople know what they are doing. And they should know. But a company with a culture focused on growth and development also offers the opportunity to reflect on what the salespeople have done. It lets people try out new strategies and techniques and discover ways of doing things better.  Too often this isn’t the case.

Ensure there’s time and space

It’s hard to find the peace and quiet to do this consistently. To keep asking: is it working? What should we do differently? But this is what separates the great from the just-getting-by. This is how you turn a strong salesperson into a star.

Practice makes perfect

Luckily, Manchester United’s management did provide a culture of growth and development. They found Ruud van Nistelrooy someone to help him get over his mental block of 100 goals. They made him practice again and again and again. They told his teammates to pass him the ball during practice until the striker was scoring again with his eyes closed.

Sales superstars can be developed

Ruud van Nistelrooy repaid Manchester United by scoring 150 goals in 219 games. Look at the companies that have a culture of consistently checking in, learning and developing: Apple, Amazon and Unilever. These companies do not expect their sales stars to shine on their own. Companies that provide their sales teams with a supportive and encouraging environment in which they can grow and develop into supernovas are clearly reaping the rewards.

How does your company respond to ‘lost mojo’?  Do you have a culture that supports and develops?

This is the heart of what we do in the Schiffman group – helping businesses transform their cultures through the day to day.

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About the author

Fraser Morrison

Fraser Morrison

As the CEO and co-founder of 1000Steps, I apply my 33+ years of sales experience to help professionals excel. Specializing in sales process optimization, I'm committed to driving client success and achieving outstanding outcomes.