There are a plenty of similarities between sports and sales. Many hiring managers specifically seek out salespeople who played sports in high school and/or college. Why? Because having been on a sports team, these sales reps are very familiar with practice, they are used to being coached, and most importantly they are comfortable with competition.
- Practice makes perfect: For years, scholastic athletes are used to putting in extra hours towards their sport of choice in addition to hours dedicated in the classroom. This willingness to work extra for the sake of excellence is often preferred by hiring managers and goes a long way in sales because it shows that a potential rep is willing to put in the extra time needed to manage a wide variety of accounts. Furthermore, the focus on repeating techniques until perfection is achieved lends itself well to learning new sales techniques and fine-tuning your pitch
- Coachability: Athletes are usually well practiced in receiving feedback. This comes from years of training, practice and getting used to being told how they can contribute. For most people, handling criticism is hard, but for athletes, it can come more naturally. Finally, athletes are used to incorporating feedback into their activities to make themselves stronger performers - an essential skill for a top-notch sales rep.
- Competition: The biggest similarity between playing sports and selling anything has to do with the external and internal competitive nature of sales. It's up to the sales team to outwork the competition and build stronger relationships with potential customers within their market. This is just like any basketball or volleyball team that fights for various honors - making it to the quarterfinals, the semi-finals, and finally winning the year championship. The internal competitive nature of sales is just as intense, if not more. Successful salespeople almost always have their own self-esteem attached to how well they are doing within their own team. For this reason, members of a sales team compete with each other for a top spot, just like athletes compete for starting/top spots on their teams.
Read more about why athletes make good sales hires from our friends at Betts Recruiting here.