February 19, 2012

Jeremy Lin and Linsanity Should Motivate the Salesperson on the End of the Bench

I’m not a big NBA fan and never intended to do back-to-back posts using sports analogies. But this whole story about Jeremy Lin is too incredible and captivating to pass up.

If you haven’t heard about Linsanity (where have you been?) just do a search and read a few articles to get up to speed. It’s as big a story as the Greek debt crisis and a whole lot more fun. Bottom-line is that this 23 year-old Asian American from the Bay Area in California has taken the sports world by storm. He didn’t get into any of his preferred colleges and ended up at Harvard – not exactly a basketball powerhouse. Lin was not drafted out of school, but did get a shot to play with his hometown Golden State Warriors. He was cut by the Warriors and had a short stint with another NBA team who also released him. The New York Knicks picked him up going into this season and until two weeks ago, he was virtually unknown, even to the New York fans, and sitting on the end of the bench. Lin was sleeping on his brother’s couch, not getting playing time and was probably facing the end of his very short basketball career.

Due to a few key injuries on the Knicks, Lin got his shot. Their desperate coach put him in 9 games ago. And this unwanted, undrafted, twice cut, bench-warmer has turned the world upside-down. The Knicks are 8-1 in those 9 games and Lin has been phenomenal.

Lin was interviewed by ESPN today. He said something that struck a chord, particularly as it relates to salespeople and selling. When asked what was different about how he was playing now versus when he got on the court previously, he shared that in the past, he was just trying to fit in and not make mistakes. Translated: he was playing it safe. This time, when he got his shot he decided to play to win and to be aggressive, even if it meant going down in flames.

How badly do you want to win? There is a really big difference between your situation as a salesperson and Jeremy Lin’s of two weeks ago: You don’t have to wait for the coach to put you in! You’re already in the lineup. The question is whether you will give it your all. How hard are you willing to practice? How seriously will you take the game? What level of intensity, or even desperation, will you bring? How badly do you want to win?

If you are struggling or possibly even close to calling it quits, take a few minutes to read the Jeremy Lin story. He  has come from nowhere to stardom in the time since I wrote the post about the Superbowl.

What is stopping you from elevating your game? It’s the land of the free and the home of the brave. Take your shot! Be inspired by Linsanity and remake your identity. Invest in yourself. Read a few sales blogs to sharpen your mind. The list in the left sidebar of GoTo Sales Gurus is a great place to start.

If you need a fresh perspective to get you going, revisit the basics of new business development:

  • Identify key target accounts you will proactively pursue for new business. Write or type a focused, finite list of targets you commit to attacking.
  • Prepare your sales weapons. Sharpen your sales story. Refine your approach for using the phone to get appointments. Revisit the way you plan sales calls and think through a better way to set up the call to set yourself apart.
  • Plan and execute your attack. Get out your calendar and block off dedicated time for proactive sales activity. Stop pretending you’ll get around to prospecting. No you won’t. No one defaults to prospecting mode. No one. Set appointments with yourself to focus on developing new business and keep those appointments! Selfishly guard your calendar. Commit to a certain level of new business activity and monitor yourself.
I am inspired by Jeremy Lin’s story. And I’d like to be inspired by your larger than life comeback too! Go make it happen.