July 30, 2020

Opting Out is Not an Option; We Need to Do Our Jobs

The resumption of professional sports has put some extra wind in my sails and also brings a few lessons for salespeople and sales leaders.

Not sure if you feel this way, but for me it’s a relief tuning into ESPN and NOT seeing yet one more week of Regional Cornhole Championships! I’m still perplexed that network executives at “The Nation’s Sports Leader” thought their audience would watch week after week of Cornhole tournaments.

Along with smiling big seeing oversized cardboard cutouts of fans behind home plate on certain Major League Baseball broadcasts, there was something truly comforting hearing the voice of local St. Louis Cardinals’ announcer Dan McLaughlin coming out of my television soundbar again. (Side note: I’d put @DannyMacTV up there with any local baseball broadcaster. He’s a total homer, avid fan, and fantastic play-by-play guy!)  So as odd as Opening Day in late July and empty, fanless ballparks seem, there’s also something wonderfully normal seeing professionals back doing their jobs.

Let’s be honest. This situation with sports, similar to what we are dealing with in sales, is far from ideal. Frankly, it’s odd and it’s suboptimal. There’s no arguing that. This pandemic has created unique challenges. Rules have had to be adapted. New protocols have been put in place. The environment (recorded crowd noise being pumped in) is not natural – kind of like being forced to conduct most of our early stage discovery meetings on Zoom isn’t what most of us in sales, given the choice, would choose. BUT I much rather have this different, dare I say awkward, version of sports than no sports. And the same applies to sales and sales management. 

In early March when reality set in that life was about to change drastically, I wrote the first of several posts dedicated to helping the sales community navigate the uncharted waters we were entering. And right now, because of the frustration, confusion, and in some cases the exhaustion, salespeople and sales leaders are experiencing… as cases spike, and we come to grips with the reality that our freedom to move, fly, sell in person, attend events, send kids back to school, etc., is getting delayed further into the future than we hoped/expected, it seemed appropriate to reiterate the exhortations from that original post:

     1.  Choose Focus over Fear

     2.  Embrace Goal Achieving Activity over Tension Relieving Activity

     3.  Be Empathetic and Understanding

     4.  Don’t Risk Politicizing This

     5.  Get Creative: Adapt, Improvise and Overcome

Sales Friends, opting out is not an option. Unlike the handful of professional athletes, who for their own reasons, have “opted out” of these bizarre, pandemic-shortened seasons, we don’t have that luxury. We need to sell. We need to run our businesses. We need to lead our teams. We need to drive results. For us, the bottom line is that We Need to Do Our Jobs!

My message today is this: Let’s embrace what lies ahead. Let’s summon the energy, the creativity, the effort, the motivation, the discipline, the commitment, the mindset, and the focus to do what needs to be done.  If you could use some encouragement, practical tips, and a pick-me-up, go re-read this post from March and scan through a few of the subsequent posts, too.

We didn’t choose the situation we find ourselves in, but absolutely can choose how we respond. And that’s exactly why I choose the screenshot above as the image for this post. I know living in St. Louis I’m supposed to hate all things Cubs, but I’ve always liked Anthony Rizzo and he cracked me up with this hand sanitizer move in a game last weekend. As I watched him smile and offer a squirt of sanitizer to his opponent, I couldn’t help but think he was modeling the right attitude for all of us and making the most of a unique and challenging situation.

Stay positive and proactive as you sell and lead. As I made the case in this short video clip, regardless of circumstances, We Still Gotta Sell!  Let’s take a cue from professional sports leagues and athletes and find a way to do what needs to be done. The show must go on.