Sales Lessons from Lance Armstrong

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: January 31, 2013

Viewers watched in anticipation as Lance Armstrong answered questions from the queen of television, Oprah Winfrey.  She asked direct questions regarding his involvement with doping and other illegal drugs during his racing career.  Lance’s answers provide some great lessons for all of us.  Sure, it’s easy to sit back and judge Lance.  “What a loser…how could he do that to his fans?”  

Rather than judge, it might be a good time to look in the mirror and see where we are giving some of the same answers and rationale in our sales lives.  What lessons can we learn from Lance?  Here are three areas to consider:  

#1Avoid the slippery sales slope.  Lance’s excuse for doping was based on the rationale that everyone else is doing it…so why not join the crowd?   I have heard this same excuse given by salespeople. 

  • They fudge the numbers on their expense reports because….well, everyone does it.
  • They fudge the numbers in their sales pipeline because….well, everyone does it.
  • They give discounts when they shouldn’t because…well, everyone does it. 

We start out with good intentions and then we tell a ‘white lie’ about something.  (Just what is the difference between a white lie and a purple lie?)  The slide down the slippery slope starts. Pretty soon it’s not a lie; it’s just the way you do things. 

We stop hearing our Mom’s voice that asked, “If the other kids jumped off a bridge…would you?”   It’s tempting to slide down the slippery slope of dishonesty because….well, everyone else is doing it.

#2:  Choose your friends wisely.  There is an old saying.  “If you want to soar with the eagles, you better be hanging around eagles.”  At some point, Lance started hanging around with a bunch of crows, peers that weren’t willing to speak up and out against what they all knew was wrong. 

Take a look at who you are hanging with?   Are your friends and colleagues holding you to a higher standard or are they encouraging you to do whatever it takes to win? Are they helping you justify bad behavior or are they questioning you on bad behavior?   

Good friends engage in ‘carefrontation.’  They care enough to confront you when you are starting down a slippery slope of denial and rationale.    

#3:  Don’t confuse what you do for a living with who you are.  I am pretty sure Lance Armstrong didn’t come into the world with the idea of cheating in order to achieve glory.  But on that quest for glory, it’s tempting to set aside what you know is right.  Your self-worth starts being defined by your accomplishments rather than your character. 

Be competitive and strive to be the best.  But on your journey to success, make sure you don’t forget to be honest, nice and humble. 

After all, it’s not about the bike and it’s not about sales.  It’s about how you show up on your way to winning the race and winning the sale. 

Good selling!

Colleen Stanley

Chief Selling Officer