Hockey and Sales

10 Nov Hockey and Sales

Whether it’s Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, PK Subban or Connor McDavid,  I’m continually amazed by the high-performing athletes we see on the ice.  Their outstanding commitment to excellence and relentless dedication to their craft got me to thinking.  What does hockey have to do with sales and business development?

These players try everything that is taught them. They don’t say “no” before testing things out themselves.  And they don’t stop at one attempt just because it doesn’t feel right.  They understand that when working on their own professional development that it’s wise to try something before deciding it won’t work.

They make straight-line hockey plays. They identify the most direct path and then fearlessly move forward.  They know each step they are going to take and why and then they execute with deliberate focus.  Hesitation is not an asset when you play in the big leagues.

They use the space behind the net effectively. They understand the game can change quickly and at times need a moment to regroup and identify where to go next, but they don’t stay there for long or wait for a teammate to rescue them.  And they certainly don’t give up when there is no clear path to the front of the net.

They don’t make a lot of soft, hope passes. They don’t “wish” the puck to their teammates stick.  They don’t wait for the puck to magically go there on its own.  Hope is not a strategy on the ice.

They shoot the puck. They take the shot whenever possible without second guessing themselves, knowing that some will go in and other won’t.  And often, it’s the rebound that presents the greatest opportunity.

It’s unbelievable how well they can keep a play alive. They are agile, flexible and imaginative yet clearly focused on the outcome they have set in their minds. When an opponent pivots, they are ready.

The skills they have to go through, around, forward, backward, are amazing. They know that relying on only one aspect of their game won’t keep them in the league.  The continually learn and seek new ideas.

They work out and practice hard. They know that the game is won or lost before they hit the ice.  Plays are practiced over and over, game tapes are reviewed, and adjustments are made.  Their practice is “deliberate” and they don’t “wing it”.  They know that shooting “more” or trying “harder” are not a strategies.

They keep score. And not just the outcome of winning or losing but more importantly “how” they won or “why” they lost.  What specifically did they do?  Can they do it again?  Can they improve what they are doing?  A continual series of “de-briefs” that lead to repeatable success.

They believe in accountability and track using statistics. Something that is only possible when winning behaviors are identified.  They are brave enough to be held accountable and don’t see it as a “big brother” activity but rather as a means to improve.  They trust their coaches and trainers even when they’ve been “benched”.

These thoughts only scratch the surface when I think about the real professionals in sports and in business. Are you an elite athlete in the sport of selling and business development?

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