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Finding Equal Business Stature On and Off the Field

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A couple of Sunday’s ago, football fans were treated to a simultaneous look at the past, and perhaps, the future. It was the Chiefs against the Patriots. Sensational rookie QB Patrick Mahomes going head-to-head with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Mahomes’ career is off to a good start. Many pundits are saying that he is a sure-fire superstar in the league. Brady…well is Brady. Five Super Bowl titles, MVP’s, Best this, and Greatest that. And the game lived up to it’s billing. A national TV audience saw the young upstart struggle a bit in the first half and then played almost perfect in the second half. Four TD passes, rallying his team from defeat. Except for this. New England got the ball last. Brady marched his team down the field in the final seconds…and the Patriots kicked a field goal to win the game as time expired.

Mahomes met Brady in the middle of the field when it was all over. That would have been a good photograph to have. The Past meets the Future. And the Past isn’t done yet.

But I really wasn’t thinking about that as I watched the game. I was thinking about Patrick Mahomes. This time last year, he was going to class, taking exams, and being a student-athlete at Texas Tech. Roll the tape ahead one year — and he’s on National TV against one of the greatest athletes of our generation. What was going through his mind? Was he intimidated? Scared? Feeling like he didn’t belong? I sat in my chair and wondered if Mahomes felt like he had equal business stature and every right to be the best QB on the field that night.

Perhaps he felt like you and I do sometimes when we make a sales call. Not really sure of ourselves. A little bit subservient. Maybe a tad afraid of that big title or the gigantic corner office. Do we belong? Do we have what it takes to control the sales process, ask tough questions, and stand our ground on pricing? Wondering if she will see the sweat that is beading on my forehead?

I think we sales professionals can learn a lesson or two from the rookie. Under the scrutiny and bright lights, he played like a champion. Though his team lost, he walked off the field knowing that he takes a backseat to no one…including the great Brady. And without a doubt, he earned equal business stature.

What’s the lesson?
It’s trust.

Mahomes had to trust his preparation. He had to trust that he had put the work in and he hadn’t taken shortcuts. Great performers know that games days will always snitch on your practice days. If you take shortcuts in preparation, it will show up at game time. When we work hard - and we know we are working hard - our self-image grows. We feel deserving of success. When we cheat the practice, that little voice tells us that we don’t deserve it. We aren’t ready for prime-time.

Do you trust your training? Do you play out the different scenarios that could happen before they happen? Are you hitting your behavior goals so that when you look in the mirror, you see a person deserving of success?

Mahomes had to trust his coaches. He had to believe in their ability to create a game plan that would be effective…and they’d provide an environment for him to succeed. He had to trust the feedback they provided and be open to incorporate the suggestions. Too many athletes are fearful of change. They find it hard to leap from what they know to the unknown. And that’s where improvement lies. Mahomes had to believe that his coaches had his best interests at heart.

By the same token, great salespeople have to trust our leaders. We have to be open-minded enough to solicit feedback…and then be courageous enough to implement the feedback. Too many sales professionals are lone wolfs. Hypersensitive to feedback, most suggestions get met with denial, justification, or explaining away the behavior. We have to place our trust in those above us - knowing that they have our best interests at heart.

Mahomes had to trust his teammates. He had to believe that they would work together for the common goal. That the left tackle would protect his blindside. That when he called an audible at the line of scrimmage, they would execute. By trusting his teammates, he could free up his brain to focus on the defense and their schemes. He had to know that his team would do what he needed them to do.

In our world, we don’t work on an island. We often have a manager. We have marketing teams that produce materials and messaging. We have peers who have experiences that we don’t have. Do we criticize and question our team? Do we blame marketing when we miss our numbers, making them a convenient scapegoat. Does my ego-centric view of the world cause me to not show gratitude to those who support me and allow me the environment to succeed? A great salesperson is part of a team. And I have to trust my team to hit my highest potential.

Trust begins and ends with truth. Did I prepare to perform my best? Do I have a plan and am I committed to executing it? Do I believe in those around me. An attitude of trust - and truth - will win on the football field and in the sales world.

(photo cred: The Action Network)

Robin Green

Robin Green

Robin Green is the President and Owner of Ascend Performance, Inc., a certified and award-winning Sandler Training Center in Richmond, VA. He specializes in helping companies of all sizes to develop the Attitudes, Behaviors, and Techniques that will help them reach new levels. Robin is a keynote speaker and podcast host. You can reach him at robin.green@sandler.com. We help companies and motivated individuals with sales, management and customer service training.