Denver Broncos fans and players are disappointed with the 5-11 season. I’m not a die-hard football fan, but a recent interview with Derek Wolfe, Broncos defensive end, captured my attention. His comments easily could have been directed to the sales profession.
Wolfe shared his frustration with some of the younger players joining the league. “It’s not like college,” he said. “You don’t get your little redshirt year. You need to come in and contribute right away.” That’s great advice for football and for sales. In today’s fast-moving, ever-changing business environment, salespeople, young AND old, need to contribute quickly and get faster results.
So what’s the difference between salespeople that take a redshirt year and those that contribute quickly? You could write an entire book on this. But there are two key differences between average and excellent salespeople.
#1. Contribution and preparation. Do you show up to the office half-dressed on Monday? I’m not talking about clothing. I am talking about how you start each day and plan each week. When you study habits of successful people, you learn they awaken generally two hours before their competition, starting their mornings with quiet time, reflection and intention. They choose how they are going to show up to work which is calm and confident rather than hurried and harassed. These prepared salespeople arrive at the office, the week is planned.
They aren’t wasting time creating their to-do list on Monday morning. They are executing their to-do list on Monday morning. They are contributing rather than getting ready to get ready.
The prepared salesperson possesses the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification. She knows you must put in the work of preparing your mind and planning your week before you earn the reward of a highly productive week.
If you aren’t willing to put in the work, apply another EQ skill, self-awareness. Ask yourself why you aren’t putting in the work to earn the reward. Why? Because we all know that if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.
#2. Contribution and mastery. Salespeople that contribute consistently and effectively are masterful at sales. They practice a lot. Salespeople, it’s great that your sales manager conducts their weekly one-on-one coaching session with you.
But if you’re serious about becoming the best, you’ll need to invest your own time in improving your selling skills, habits and knowledge.
One of the more famous case studies of practice and mastery comes from the Music Academy of West Berlin, which is known to turn out extremely good musicians. Researchers discovered that the common denominator between outstanding musicians and great musicians was that outstanding musicians put in extra practice by themselves, up to 25 hours, outside of the academy’s normal practices.
It’s a new year. Will you redshirt this year or play ball?
You Don’t Get to Red Shirt Your First Sales Year