IanPoulterEurope's Ryder Cup hero, Ian Poulter
What a weekend that was! The USA started out by taking control and building a big lead going into the final day only for Europe to stage the biggest comeback in the history of the Ryder Cup to record their victory in the very last match on the last day.
So what sales lessons can we learn from Europe's victory?
Driver off the tee – set the course up to win
The American captain, Davis Love III was very clever in having all the rough cut, just prior to the tournament, so that the course favoured the big-hitting (but slightly wayward) Team USA.
So what can you do to give yourself, or your team, a sales advantage? This might be as simple as doing some research on your prospect's company before meeting with them, or a telephone call, or perhaps even some research on the individual themselves in order to give yourself a better chance of building rapport faster? It might be as simple as finding out as much information as you can about a prospect's position prior to a negotiation.
It could even be as simple as making sure you and your team are in the right mind-set before you start your sales calls for the day?
So what are you currently doing to make sure you're setting up your 'course' up to win?
Four iron – generate determination from situations of adversity
A great example of this was Europe's leader of this Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter.
Now 'Poults' might not be the most naturally gifted golfer in the world but you definitely want him on your team when the Ryder Cup comes around!
One of Ian's great strengths is his ability to generate determination from adversity. At one stage Europe were down 10-4 on the Saturday afternoon, yet inspired by Poulter birdie-ing his last 5 holes for a win (plus overcoming a 2-hole deficit in the singles), together with his encouragement to other European players, Europe actually rallied to win the next 10½ points out of a possible 14 to record their victory! Unheard of before in Ryder Cup golf!
In sales, there are plenty of situations of adversity. Like when you and your team are struggling with prospecting, or your new business activities aren't going well? Or perhaps when you keep getting objection after objection from clients? Or perhaps when your sales figures have been low recently and you're struggling to turn it around?
So in these situations of adversity, do they make you and your team more determined or more depressed right now?
Sand wedge – perform under pressure
Martin Kaymer is a previous PGA winner and also ex-number one in the world. Yet he's been having a disastrous few months having qualified for the European team on his previous performances, not his recent ones.
His form has been woeful coming into the Ryder Cup tournament, so who does it come down to have a put on the final green to ensure Team USA didn't win? Yes, it was Kaymer.
In sales, as in sport, it's vital that you can perform under pressure. In the critical moments, when the pressure is on, can you and your team perform?
Like Kaymer, you need to be able to ‘hole the putt’ when you’re called upon. You need to be able to produce the result when you’re under pressure. You need to be able to demonstrate you can rise above it and still bring the business in. So how do you and your team perform in pressure situations? When facing strong objections from a prospect? When facing strong complaints from a customer that is threatening to go elsewhere? When you’re way behind target and you have to make the difference up?
One of the major differences between average performers and top performers in sales is how they perform when the pressure is on. How do you and your team currently measure up?
Putter – don’t count your chickens…
In Team USA, and even in some sections of the American press, this saying wasn’t heeded and they assumed there would be lots of victorious hatchlings.
On the Saturday evening, when Europe were down 10-6 before the final day of singles matches, ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski penned an article, writing off Europe’s chances and, often, mocked them.
After their amazing comeback and 14½, 13½ victory, he was forced to write another article apologising simply because he, and many other Americans, had decided there was no way back for Europe and had started to count their chickens. This happens in sales as well. How many salespeople do you know that have counted on a deal coming in, even before it has been confirmed? Some of those salespeople have even spent their commission from the deal, only to find out shortly afterwards they weren’t getting any as the deal fell apart!
How many salespeople look at their sales pipeline and think ‘oh that will come in… and that will come in… so I’ll be okay… I have enough to hit my target’ only for some of those deals to drop out at the last minute or drag over to the following month, meaning that the salesperson then misses target?
This happens a lot and far too much, in my opinion. Complacency or ‘easing up’ is one of the biggest enemies of salespeople and one of the biggest reasons for salespeople not hitting target on a consistent basis.
Now ask yourself, how many of your team might be guilty of that right now?