Controlling the Controllables in Sports & Sales

By October 18, 2017
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Controlling the Controllables in Sports and Sales

Life is full of moments, decisions and events that we have no control over – we have all been there. This is certainly true in sports, but sales often encounters these same tough situations – salespeople are not immune to the wild cards we experience in everyday life.

As much as sales is an “individual sport”, we also rely on our team to ultimately bring in that sale we all work hard for. Unfortunately, things happen that we often can’t do much about. An account executive might fail to illustrate the value your company brings to the table. Someone from the solution team may give a bad demo, budgets for projects fall through, or your champion decides to change jobs when you are about to get a deal in. It happens. The question I like to ask reps when something doesn’t go their way is simple, and goes like this …

“So What?!?”

It’s crazy, but I find myself repeating this phrase from an old college baseball coach I didn’t always agree with. I used to be the first to point a finger when things didn’t go my way while I was pitching. I would find myself saying things like “if the shortstop made that one play, we would have won the game.” In reality, if I was able to get the next person out after the error occurred, the inning would have been over and we would have won. So, who takes responsibility for the loss?

“Developing your craft never stops, and it’s well within your control”

The mature answer is myself. Regardless of my teammates’ play, I had direct control over the next batter’s results and I failed to deliver an out. No one likes to hear constant complaints about what could have been. That’s why taking ownership and “controlling the controllables” – a common motivational phrase in sports – is a redeeming quality often found in the best salespeople.

Know Your Role, Know Yourself

It’s sales – and yes, we all have individual goals, but you still have a role to play and outcomes are still expected. So, why not do that role to the best of your ability no matter the results? If you’re an SDR, that means you’re on the front lines of the business, and often the very first person to interact with a potential client. First impressions really can make a difference and it’s critical to take advantage of opportunities within your own control.

In the SDR role, those who are organized, punctual, willing to learn, and deliberate in their outreach will reach or exceed their goals consistently. Most would agree these traits will lead to success, but what we all don’t realize is that all of these things are within OUR OWN control. This applies to every profession in every industry, and that is why I encourage everyone to control the controllables in their role.

Never Stop Improving

Developing your craft never stops, and it’s well within your control. We all have individual skills and improve in different ways – so naturally, certain things come easier to some and prove more difficult for others. This is why it is important to know yourself. Knowing yourself includes understanding the ways you learn best and having a process that WORKS FOR YOU in order to achieve professional and personal goals. For example, if you know you are better at communicating on the phone, up your dials. If you are more creative with words, step up your email game.

As we work toward consistent self-improvement, we often forget to pick our heads up and learn from our communities. Groupthink can be a dangerous thing, so it is important for us to learn from others and get new perspectives. Stepping out of your comfort zone is an often rewarding experience, so make sure to do it regularly to expand and improve yourself.

In sports, you can’t change the conditions of the field, the weather, the referees’ calls, injuries, or your opponents’ or teammates’ quality of play. What you can control are your actions – and it starts with having the right attitude. Like sports, a lot of things might not go your way in sales, but the mental toughness of owning your actions remains the same. Taking control of your role and remaining open to improvement will ultimately help you be more successful as you get more experienced in sales.

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