The Sales Final Four - Taking the Buzzer Shot for Sales Success

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: April 1, 2010

The NCAA Final Four is this weekend – celebrating the very best that college hoops has to offer. This year’s tournament had many shockers – West Virginia’s upset over No. 1 seed Kentucky, and Northern Iowa’s upset of No. 1 seed University of Kansas. The four teams standing are Butler, Michigan State, Duke and West Virginia; all of which displayed amazing athletic performances thus far and great overall seasons (regardless of the outcomes in the next two games).

The skill level of the teams and athletes that make it to this point is incredibly high, and it’s almost impossible to say which team going head-to-head is “better” than the other when it comes to skill. If the winner cannot be determined by skill level, what is the winning edge? Is it sheer luck? If only luck could take us that far….. The deciding factor in winning is emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups. What makes top performing athletes excel over their competitors who have the same skill set? It’s emotional intelligence.

Let’s look at two emotional intelligence traits and how they relate to winning in athletics and winning in sales:

Self-Actualization: Ability to realize your potential capacities. An on-going, dynamic process of striving toward the maximum development of your abilities and talents.

A top performing athlete is not content with being second place. When you watch the leaders of the college basketball teams, they have the drive and desire to do what it takes to win – every bit of their being longs to be the best – and the most important part? They truly BELIEVE they can do it.

Are you sales self-actualized? Do you have high goals to achieve and know in your heart of hearts that it can be done? Or is there a voice of doubt holding you back? The best way to get self actualized is to be very in tune with your wants, desires, and capabilities. A good way to do this is to take some time each day to journal and explore the deep thoughts that so often get pushed aside by the logistics of your day. Become aware of yourself in order to become the best you can be.

Stress Tolerance: Ability to effectively withstand adverse events and constructively cope.

It always amazes me how many games come down to a buzzer shot. It amazes me even more how these young athletes stay completely cool and calm under the intense pressure. Top players not only take the last shot, but want to take the last shot. Have you ever noticed how they are not in the least bit surprised they hit the game winning three-pointer? They live for the 3 – 2 – 1…..

How do you handle stressful sales situations? A rep we work with came to the realization that she needed to work on her stress tolerance after an unfortunate scenario with a prospect. She has been building a relationship with this important client for months, and was now at the solution alignment (proposal) phase. The prospect became very demanding – asking for unrealistic deadlines, nit-picking each sentence of the proposal to death – so much so that the salesperson snapped at the prospect and lost the account.

We see it all the time. Salespeople do not handle stress well, are not assertive enough to appropriately manage expectations, and end up losing business.

Learn what you stressor “hot buttons” are so you can properly manage them and adapt appropriately. When that sales stress creeps up, so something to relieve it in a positive way – a walk around the park, a chat with your sales manager or a friend who understands your demanding business. Whatever you do – don’t let it interfere with your sales process – you will wind up looking like sales amateur.

When watching the games this weekend, think about how the players and coaches use a mixture of knowledge of the game with emotional intelligence traits – it will be the deciding factor of who takes home the trophy.