This article by Penny Herscher was posted this morning on the salesforce.com blog. See the original here.
A recent David Williams Forbes article, Why You Should Fill Your Company With Athletes, highlighted seven traits to look for when hiring. David didn’t mean that you should hire only real athletes, but rather, try to hire employees that have “athlete traits that make any individual an exceptional hire.” With the winter games off to an exciting start, and many of our own fiscal years starting up, sales teams are looking to be fast out of the gate. There are many lessons sales teams learn from the best winter athletes in the world.
What traits do athletes have that can translate to sales? Quite a few, actually. Athletes, especially Olympic-caliber ones, are very driven. They know that they have to put in the work at practice to see results in the games—and sometimes that means practices every day, or twice a day. Moreover, they have a never-say-die attitude, and they know how to work through adversity to see results. Managers should try to find salespeople who put in the time and work to prepare for client meetings. Chances are, they’ll be more successful.
The best athletes focus on the smallest aspects of their sport. They know, for instance, that anything that isn’t streamlined during the ski jump can subtract precious tenths of a meter. They have impeccable timing, whether it’s changing positions mid-air, or releasing the puck. And world-class curlers know exactly how much force to put behind the stone. Salespeople have to show the same attention to detail in their accounts. To be truly successful, they should strive to be intimately acquainted with every aspect of their accounts. The smallest event, or hint of an emerging trend, can be the key to making or losing the sale.
Lastly, the best athletes have the best equipment available. In fact, they need the top-of-the-line gear so they don’t fall behind their competition. Even if one person is an inherently better athlete than another, a slight edge in aerodynamics can mean the difference between the gold medal and 10th place.
Of course, the same is true in sales. How can you expect your salespeople to be the best and achieve world-class results if you don’t equip them with good tools—or any tools at all? In order to succeed, they need to be able to have a deep view of their clients’ business and markets. They need to be given the opportunity to react to a management change, or a market shift, and if they have to sift through all of the noise that’s on the Web, there’s a good chance they’ll miss it, or never get to it at all.
As a hiring manager, you need to look for salespeople who are driven and dedicated, but are also creative, detail-oriented, and have finesse. Once you’ve assembled your team, you have a responsibility as a manager to give them the tools they need to be successful. The right people will use the right tools wisely and move the needle for your business.
What can each of the winter sports teach your sales team? Check out the infographic below to find out!