December 31, 2012

What We Can Learn from Peyton Manning – the Consummate (Sales) Professional

Like most of you, I am tired of of hearing about the “Fiscal Cliff,” and extremely aggravated with our elected officials in Washington D.C. It’s probably also safe to assume you don’t need to read yet another blog post about New Year’s Resolutions. So let’s do something more productive, and, certainly, more enjoyable. Let’s talk about Peyton Manning.

I’m a big NFL fan, and one of this year’s most intriguing and captivating stories is the return of Peyton Manning. He missed all of last season due to an injury and his team (the Indianapolis Colts) earned the first pick in this year’s draft by finishing with the worst record in the entire league. Manning, a 10-time Pro-Bowl player and former MVP was released by the Colts who then went on to draft a quarterback – Andrew Luck out of Stanford University. Manning was an unrestricted free agent courted by several teams. He ended up with the Denver Broncos and just led his new team to a 13-3 season, the best record in football and #1 seed in the conference playoffs. It’s an incredible story. Watching Manning closely this year, I have been struck by how the characteristics he exhibits make him the consummate professional, from whom those of us in sales could certainly learn a ton.

Peyton Manning is never satisfied with his own performance. Forget the fact that he doesn’t gloat or that he is a humble professional in victory. What causes me to shake my head each week is how he never looks that satisfied during the post-game press conference. He continually talks about the need for him to better – that there is much he can do to improve. The guy is heading to his 11th Pro Bowl and fans and media everywhere are bowing down to him. Yet he is always talking about what must be done to improve his game. Amazing!

Peyton Manning is uber competitive and raises the bar of expectations of those around him. Not only is Peyton hard on himself, he is hard on everyone. He fully expects his teammates to execute their assignments and communicates very clearly when he sees someone is not getting it done. Others say that he is demanding. Just today, the color commentator on the television broadcast was relaying a story about Manning challenging the food service staff at the stadium to provide more nutritious meals for the team. The announcer said it well: Manning expects a lot from everyone. The man is the epitome of a great leader.

Peyton-Manning-salesguyPeyton Manning knows his product inside and out and adapts to the defense (prospect) better than anyone. Much of the mystique throughout Manning’s career has been created by his incredible ability to read the defense and change the play at the line of  scrimmage. He’s famous for calling what are known as audibles while pointing, screaming and conducting traffic before the play even begins. How can he do this? Because he prepares like a madman. It’s not just that he is great in the boardroom (on game day); it’s that he is great all week long, spending hours and hours studying tendencies of his opponent and preparing himself to adjust the play once he sees what the defense reveals. He can outthink his opponent because he out-works them.

Peyton Manning is a classy, likable man. Peyton walks and talks like a professional. As competitive and serious as he is, he is also extremely personable. He’s funny. He’s winsome. He’s engaging. And when he speaks, he commands respect.

What can you learn from Peyton Manning?

  • How hard are you pushing yourself? When you win or are tracking ahead of quota, do you kick back and put it on cruise control? Or are you constantly looking for ways to improve and sharpen your game?
  • How badly do you want it? Can others see your passion and drive? Are you making your teammates better by setting the pace? Or are you hanging around with the whiners who poke fun at the top-performers and specialize in making excuses or playing the victim?
  • Do you prepare like you are trying to win a championship? How well have you been planning out your sales calls and presentations? Do you practice like it counts? How well do you know your offerings and how sharp is your sales story? Can you adapt to what a prospect throws at you because you’re so well prepared or do you wing it hoping to get lucky?
  • Do customers like to be around you? Are you likable? Are you perceived as someone who improves their business and even their life? Remember the old adage: People buy from people they like – and trust. Be likable and trustworthy.

I am rooting for Peyton and the Broncos this postseason.

Thanks for reading and making 2012 such an incredible year. Your support, insight and encouragement are much appreciated. And let me express my gratitude one more time for making New Sales. Simplified – The Essential Handbook for Prospecting & New Business Development a #1 Hot New Release in Amazon’s Sales category, and the #1 Kindle Bestseller in Business Systems and Planning!

Screen Shot 2012-12-08 at 7.40.28 AM