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August 2009

July 2009

CEO of the Year Award - What the Best CEO's Are Thinking About

In July, I had the privilege of attending Chief Executive magazine’s CEO of the Year Award dinner. Every year this prestigious honor is presented to an outstanding corporate leader, nominated and selected by a group of peers for their exemplary vision and execution. The dinner was preceded by a reception on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, where I met Ann Mulcahy, Chairman of Xerox Corporation, who won the CEO of the Year Award in 2008.

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She recently retired from the CEO post on July 1st, but she retains the position of chairman. She immediately recalled being on the cover of Selling Power and was happy to pose for a photo. Mulcahy was quickly surrounded by other CEOs who were eager to talk shop. One CEO commented how much more relaxed she looked since she no longer has to carry the daily stress that comes from being in the hot seat 24/7.

Mulcahy is charming, tough, and humble. When she introduced the CEO of the Year for 2009 later that evening, she reflected on receiving the award the previous year and spoke about the true recipients of this special award, saying, “I know whatever success we enjoy is merely the product of the tens of thousands of hardworking people that we are privileged to lead in our companies.”

Hassan100x125 At the reception I also met with Fred Hassan, CEO of Schering Plough, who spoke at last year’s Selling Power Sales Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, where he shared his success story: growing up poor in Pakistan, moving to London to study chemical engineering, and getting an MBA from Harvard. Earlier this year, he created a $41 billion merger with Merck. Today, Hassan is one of the most respected and trusted CEOs in America. When I asked him to consider speaking at a future Sales Leadership Conference he was very enthusiastic about the idea. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that his schedule will allow it.

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I introduced myself to Steve Odland, CEO of Office Depot, since I like his stores. They always carry what I need when I’m on the road (like chargers, recorders, flash drives, wireless remotes, etc.). I also liked when his stores carried Selling Power magazine on their shelves.




HowardBrodsky100x100I also had a great conversation with Howard Brodsky, chairman and CEO of CCA Global Partners, a $10.2 billion company in the floor-covering business with more than 3,600 locations worldwide.
Although I have never met him before, he treated me like a long-lost friend, saying, “I love that magazine. I had no idea it was you who started it. Every salesperson should read it, especially in this economy.” He asked a lot of questions, which told me a lot about his curiosity and ability to listen. He was proud that one of his sons is now running a bicycle division, and he got really passionate when he began sharing his new plan to create a nonprofit in the childcare field. I was able to speak to many other CEOs, and since these conversations were off the record, I will summarize their thoughts and insights in the aggregate below.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was the presentation of the CEO of the Year Award to Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonald’s Corporation.JimSkinner100x140 After serving nearly 10 years in the United States Navy, Skinner started his career with McDonald’s in 1971 as a restaurant manager trainee in Carpentersville, IL. He is modest when he says, “I sell hamburgers,” and he also admits eating a McDonald’s meal every day. The company serves more than 58 million people in 118 countries each day through more than 31,000 restaurants. More than 75% of the restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs. McDonald’s sales and profits have increased steadily year over year since 2005. (He assumed the CEO role in 2004.)

In his acceptance speech, Skinner explained that being a CEO in today’s market isn’t easy: “We are the public face of our brand, the voice that gets heard above the rest. Our decisions, our demeanor, and our directions set our business on the right course. Being a CEO is not an easy role. These are tough jobs in the best of times. When it’s going well, it’s complicated; when it’s going badly, it’s more complicated. In this environment cynicism, suspicion, and a high level of scrutiny pretty much rule the day.” Skinner’s secret to good leadership: Focus on core values.

Success in business, according to Skinner, requires that we “balance epiphanies with execution. Anybody can create a strategy or innovative ideas. But those who can execute on ideas and deliver on the epiphany – they will drive value to the bottom line.”

Here is my summary of insights shared in conversations with America’s leading CEO’s:

  • "The economy is on the road to recovery. It may not be fast, but we’re more certain than ever that the tough times aren’t going to last."
  • "We have taken a hard look at every part of our operation and identified and plugged many efficiency leaks, aggressively cut waste, and judiciously moved into new territories."
  • "CEOs need to take the lead when it comes to restoring trust. The headlines created the now familiar joke, “One year you can be on the cover of Time, the next year you can be doing it.”
  • "It is incredible what can happen when you can mobilize the creative powers of an organization. We have such great potential to innovate and move our business forward."
  • "The recession certainly looked like a big lemon, but with sweet new ideas, we’re now getting better-tasting lemonade."
  • "If you have available cash, this is the best time to go on the hunt for acquisitions. There is no better time than now."

One person that stood out in the crowd was Brig. General Keith Thurgood who heads the $10 billion Army & Air Force Exchange Service, a profitable, global company operating over 3,100 retail facilities. He said, “Running a successful business hinges on flawless execution. It all starts with quality leadership.”

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Is Sales Enablement Just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?

How we should think about sales enablement? Please join me in opening the dialogue on this important subject.

What Is Sales Enablement, Anyway?

What were they thinking when they came up with that obscure and passive combination of words? Say “sales enablement” three times to your kids at bedtime and they’ll be fast asleep within seconds. A brief Wikipedia definition states that “the terms ‘sales effectiveness’ and ‘sales readiness’ are sometime used interchangeably to denote Sales Enablement as well.” If sales enablement leads to sales effectiveness, why not use effective English?

What Exactly Are Sales Enablement Vendors Selling?

The noble purpose of Sales Enablement companies is to help sales organizations save time finding relevant information, create and organize sales content and create quick access to all experts across the enterprise.

It makes total sense. Salespeople can win more deals if they are better prepared. To back up this theory, IDC research shows that 33% of unsuccessful deals could have been won if the salesperson had been better informed or acted more client-oriented.

An even more important issue is the growing amount of time that salespeople spend searching for information to answer customer questions. What if a program could give salespeople exactly what they need to know so that they can transform information-chasing time into customer-chasing time? It all makes sense. I can picture the sales-enablement software programmers being obsessed with sales efficiency and sales effectiveness. But let’s take a look how the sales enablement vendors are selling their solution to you, the sales leader.

Vendor Pitches or Marketing Glitches?

Savo promises, "Never sell alone!" Does that hit a hot button for you? I don’t know many lonely salespeople. On another part of the SAVO site I read, “Clone top performers.” Excuse me! Why not promise, “Clone your Swiss bank account"?

Kadient’s Website isn’t shy about pitching the exact same theme on their home page: "What if all of your salespeople could sell like your top performers?" The promise continues, “With Kadient’s on-demand sales enablement application, you arm your sales team with the knowledge, messages and strategies they need to win at every stage of the customer’s buying cycle.” If they found the key to winning at every stage, how come Kadient isn’t a hugely successful company?

iCentera bills itself as a sales enablement company. Their pitch is a model of modesty: “Sales Enablement maximizes your sales organization’s ability to communicate through a central messaging vehicle.” The key benefit: “Close more business through more knowledgeable sales people.”

N-tara.com created a special sales enablement site with this teaser copy: “Ever feel like your salespeople don’t get it?” Here is the pitch: “N-tara’s sales enablement solutions equip your sales force with engaging, customer-ready content that is timely, relevant and in context to your customer’s needs.”

The best part of their site is a "Guide to Enlightened Conversations". It is engaging, interactive and it makes a lot of sense.

SVA BizSphere is a European sales enablement vendor located in Wiesbaden, Germany, with offices in Toronto. The pitch: “Do you want your sellers to minimize preparation time and maximize quality time with your clients?” The key benefits: close more deals, increase average deal size, shorten your sales cycle. It is a clear and concise pitch. Another vendor in the space is Salesforce.com/content which offers a competing solution to their AppExchange partners Kadient and SAVO. Other vendors include Avitage.com (marketing automation and sales enablement) Streetsmarts.com (channel sales), Groupswim.com (team collaboration) and Salesforce.com/content.

What Do The Industry Analysts Say About Sales Enablement?

Technology vendors often seek out the help of industry analysts, who lend a helping hand (for a small fee) with objective research that can help sales leaders choose among the competing solutions. When you go to the Websites of sales enablement vendors, you’ll see the same references to IDC and Forrester Research. On November 13th, 2008, Forrester conducted a teleconference entitled, Strategic Sales Enablement. For a $250 fee you could listen to their insights. The analysts defined sales enablement as
“a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle.”

If you want to decide for yourself if the paying attendees got their money’s worth, download the ppt at no charge (you need to sign in though).

Not to be outdone, IDC created a very insightful presentation in January of this year. Their definition of sales enablement:
“The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place, to assist moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”

IDC is a bit more generous with their Sales Enablement wisdom. They posted their ppt on Slideshare.com . They scored more than 1,600 views to date.

Gartner defines sales enablement as
“[providing] the sales force with communications programs and tools to drive activity and enhanced productivity.”

On one side we have vendor hype, on the other side we have analyst reasoning. What does this add up to so far? The vendors write the music, the analysts sing the theme song: Here is the category, here are the vendors, here is who is cool, and here is who made it to the magic quadrant.

Here Is What’s Missing:

Analysts don’t tell you that reality is always a step or two ahead of their definitions.

Analysts don’t analyze the economic realities of a sales enablement solution. There are no ROI studies nor objective research that compares the effectiveness of SAVO vs. Kadient vs. iCentera.

Analysts don’t create user studies that tell you more about the information infrastructure, the flaws with the search functions, the project abandon rate by vendor, the average user acceptance, the obsolescence factor of the data, the amount of information that’s missing just because nobody knows where all the useful data is located, the amount of time it takes to train (and retrain) salespeople, or the enduser satisfaction level with the graphical interface (some of the designs are an insult to the eye).

The vendors want you to believe that their sales enablement tools allow you to harness the collective intelligence of your sales organization. It sounds great, but who in the world can define and measure what that means? How do we know what best practices can positively influence sales productivity? Who decides what not to make available (due to security issues)? Most salespeople can’t write coherently, and most of the top salespeople can’t articulate what makes them successful. So how do we really capture sales intelligence?

What’s the real cost of running a sales enablement solution? Is there a need for editorial staff to help create and edit content, to set up template standards and apply them?

How much of a company's “best practices” and sales intelligence is reusable? If I am a salesrep, getting ready for a presentation to Boeing in Seattle, and I download a presentation that one of my peers created for Airbus, how much data can I reuse, and how much do I have to create from scratch?

Sales enablement companies are NOT too savvy when it comes to social media. Search for Kadient on Twitter - zero results. iCentera has 43 followers, SAVO has 391, BizSphereis the leader with 441 followers

The point is this: Social media tools allow people to connect with lightning speed. If Jill in Jackson wants a ppt presentation on jackhammers, I can tweet and send her a link in seconds.

Here is my biggest concern:
Sales enablement companies seem stuck in the “delay economy,” while Twitter is moving information management into the real-time economy.

How Future-Proof Is Sales Enablement?

Go to http://vark.com and test their amazing question tool. I just did and asked, “What sales incentives are best for salespeople age 20-30?" I got the first reply inside of two minutes from someone in England, who said, “Technology, like iPods." The company will offer a group solution later this fall.

What is your take on Sales Enablement?

I am interested in your views and experiences.

Please share your take on the following questions (any or all)

Is sales enablement just lipstick on a knowledge management pig?

Do you trust what analysts are saying about this concept?

Are you using a sales enablement tool now, and if so, how is it helping your sales team?

Where do you see the shortcomings of your sales enablement solution?

Does sales enablement have a future?

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It's the Top Talent that Helps You Win

Effective sales managers believe in that recruiting is a race without a finish line. Their mantra is ABR which stands for Always Be Recruiting. It is good practice to continuously compare new talent to the existing performers on your team.

Mary Delaney, President of Personified, a division of CareerBuilder has hired thousands of salespeople during her career takes a closer look at the soft skills in job interviews such as the drive to win. Personified is a talent management company. In Mary’s view, winners are not afraid of doing the hard things they need to do to win, and they have the capacity and willingness to do them over and over again.

In order to get to the truth in essential matters, she looks for consistency in the responses across five different interviews. Another great way to measure the capacity for winning is to ask the candidate to share success stories from three different time periods such as college, the first job and the last job. The idea is that past achievement factors are predictors of future success potential.

Watch this five minute video interview today. It’s likely to stretch your thinking on hiring better talent so your company will be ready to cash in on the emerging opportunities during the recovery phase of the economy.

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Clicking on the thumbnail above will expand and play the video.


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Time For a Friday Laugh

Dan Seidman, has written an entertaining book about sales horror stories. Sales Autopsy: 50 Postmortems Reveal What Killed the Sale

His objective was not to make fun of salespeople who wiped out on calls, but to draw some valuable lessons that people have learned from their slipups. The greatest lesson: don’t take yourself so seriously. We can’t be perfect 100% of the time, we’re only human. The sooner we accept the fact that we’re not perfect, the easier it will be for us to learn from sales blunders. Failure offers a wonderful opportunity to develop our sense of humor. Dan Seidman's work teaches us that failure is the diamond dust that nature uses to polish its jewels.

In this four-minute video interview, Dan shares one hilarious story, that’s fun to listen to. And if you are a good story teller, I bet that you’ll relish telling that same story to a handful of friends over the week-end. It’s Friday – take out 4 min. of your time and allow yourself get carried away and lifted up by this story. It will refresh your mind, and it will transform that little frown on your face into a grin that will last until after lunch. But the best part comes later, when you tell the same story to a friend. You’ll realize that it’s time to put fun back into selling.

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Help: "Our Closing Ratio Dropped by 50% in the last Quarter!"

Here is a call for help from a VP of Sales of a technology company who emailed me for advice today. Sales were going well, but something happened. Please read the email, and tell me what you would do if you were in this situation: I enjoy your new blog and in general your magazine and articles over the years. 


One very broad question I have for you related to metrics.  If you were to guess the impact in close ratios at the bottom of the sales funnel due to this current economic situation, what impact would you say it has had?

Obviously there are a million variables related to price, industry, product, etc. but I would assume most everyone contends that the ‘ROI threshold’ for approval for a project involving an incremental investment is higher today.  In my own company, our close ratio on qualified opportunities had been going along between 21 – 29% (based on seasonality) for several quarters and dropped precipitously to 12% in the last quarter.

Anecdotally, this makes sense as companies tighten their belts but I am curious if you have broad data based on surveys or your own observations.

Thanks in advance, (end of email)


Here are my key questions: 

Have you experienced a similar situation in your career?

If you have, what did you do about it? How did you recover? 

How would you go about diagnosing this problem? 

Which segments of the sales pipeline would you look at more closely? 

How would you get the closing ratio back to previous levels? 

Your reply will make a difference. Thank you 

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Zig Ziglar’s New Message: Embrace The Struggle

Zig Ziglar’s electrifying speeches have motivated millions of people around the world for decades. Every time I’ve met with Zig, it turned into a memorable experience. The first time I sat down with him was in Norfolk, VA. He was 53 years old and his career has taken off like a rocket. He was undoubtedly America’s # 1 Motivator.  He had just given an amazing speech that received a standing ovation from over 8,000 people. This was actually the first time I had ever conducted an interview in my publishing career. I had read all his books, read all the articles that were published until that day and prepared over 30 questions. Zig was extremely kind, patient, energizing and highly motivating. The two hours felt like ten minutes at the time. The cover story was a huge success and over the years we became friends; he introduced me to Mary Kay Ash, invited me to play golf, and we were both honored to join President H.W. Bush (41) at a private dinner, and every now and then he called with a new book idea and joked, “I can’t argue with a guy who buys ink by the barrel.”

Today, Zig Ziglar is 82 years old. A year and a half ago he’s had an unfortunate fall down the stairs in his home. Zig suffered a concussion that led to a loss of short term memory. It is an affliction that Zig isn’t aware of, and one that doesn’t affect his friends. But going back on the stage where he loves share his message became a significant challenge that Zig’s family resolved with a great deal of love and creativity.

Tom Ziglar who joined his Dad for the video interview said, “An unplanned event, because of age or an accident, can change everything. But the wisdom, the knowledge and the integrity are still there.” That’s why Zig has embraced his daughter’s advice to work on a new book that turns Zig’s recovery into a new message of hope for today’s turbulent world. The book’s title: Embrace the Struggle. It’s an apt metaphor for approaching tough times. 

When Zig appears on stage today, he appears together with Julie, his youngest daughter. Instead of Zig leading with his speech, it’s Julie leading her dad with questions. On the rare occasion where she senses that Zig may repeat himself, she’s right there, using a new question to keep Zig focused on the next message. 

What’s ironic is that Zig’s messages are designed to be repeated. Says Zig “motivation is like eating or bathing. We can’t graduate in either one.” Zig’s messages are definitely worth repeating. And this rare video interview is definitely worth reviewing several times.

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Moments That Define Us

Patrick Sweeney is a journalist by training and his curiosity drove him to conduct extensive research into what makes people successful. As the President of Caliper, he consults with business leaders on hiring, executive development, team building, executive coaching and performance management. In his bestselling book, Succeed on Your Own Terms he shares mini biographies of highly successful people and describes the mental processes they’ve developed that contributed most to their success. For example, the biography of Mugsey Bogues, the shortest NBA player ever, didn't dwell on his height limitations . . . but rather on how his mind focused on what he had to do to gain the upper hand over his far taller opponents. In this short video interview, Patrick shares a fascinating a defining moment of how a holocaust survivor had a flash of insight that saved his life.

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What Can We Learn from Ultra-successful People Like Oprah?

Oprah

If you don’t like to read about people who brag, skip this blog. I don’t like to brag, but today I feel like telling the story that I haven’t told in public. Here it goes. A few years ago I accepted an invitation to attend the Clinton Global Initiative in NYC. (How I got that is an entirely different story) On the first day in the morning I passed Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in the hallway. I selected a conference track in the morning that focused on world hunger. When I attend a conference, I always like to sit up front to enjoy a closer view of the speakers. I estimated the room capacity at about 450 people with a round-table setup. As I walked down the aisle I spotted an empty seat at the left front table and asked the people if it was ok to join them. They were kind enough to offer me the last empty seat at their table. As I introduce myself, I realize that I was sitting next to the President of the Rockefeller Foundation, opposite Maya Angelou and right across from Oprah who next to her friend Gayle. We spent the next two hours discussing ways we can help address world hunger and combat poverty. Everyone at the table shared their views and Maya Angelo in her booming voice summed up the crux of the problem saying “poverty begins with poverty of the spirit.”

During our discussion we got interrupted a number of times by visitors who wanted to shake hands with Oprah. Like, “Hi, my name is Jean Chretien, I am the former Prime Minister of Canada, I always wanted to meet you.” By the end of the two-hour meeting Oprah has a small stack of business cards in front of her. She is so down-to earth, charming, disarming, authentic, loveable and thrilling to hang out with. I asked Oprah during the break if it would be ok to get a picture with her and she asked Gayle to take my camera while she snuggled up as close as it gets. There is gaggle of people waiting to speak to Oprah. One of them is Wangari Muta Maathai.

Wangari Maathai

Oprah was kind enough to introduce me to Mrs. Maathai. She is one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met in my life. Mrs. Maathai was the first women in East Africa to earn a PhD in 1971.She is the founder of the Greenbelt Movement and she is the first African women to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

During the lunch break I had a chance to visit with chance to visit with Shimon Peres, who is now the President of Israel.

Perez

He was escorted by two young ladies and willing to speak to everybody. I made a comment like “It must be great to be over 80 and get the attention of beautiful women less than half your age.” He smiled and joked, “You’re just jealous, admit it.”

It was an honor and privilege to meet these extraordinary people. I’ve shared this story with only a few people, and one of them was Rick Frishman who exclaimed, “Oprah! I’ve been on her show.” If you are an author, trying to get on the Oprah show, look no further than my video interview with Rick. He shares the secret of how he got on the show. Best of all, the video lists all of Oprah’s producers. Hot tip for authors: Send a copy of your book to EVERY one of Oprah's producers – not just one.

Lessons learned:  It's fun and motivating to meet celebrities. If they decide to spend time with you, be yourself, be authentic, spontaneous, open minded, curious, caring, collaborative, creative and kind. After this high-octane event I researched these extraordinary people and studied their lives. I read about their struggles and triumphs, travels and difficulties, victories and disappointments. And the biggest lessons I learned are these: 1. I still have a LOT to learn, 2. If we study successful people from all walks of life, we'll have a far greater chance of becoming a success. 3. Most success comes from overcoming great difficulties. 4. Sometimes not getting what we want can be a wonderful stroke of luck. It is often the beginning of a magnificent struggle that can lead to extraordinary success.

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Do You Harness the Power of Voice in Sales?

Our tone of voice in selling is often more important than we realize. Dr. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA found that our feelings and attitudes are communicated to 38% with our tone of voice.

Top salespeople are very aware of how their voice impacts their customer’s moods. When customers raise their voices, such salespeople respond by lowering their voices and speak on softer tones to express reassurance. When customers speak rapidly, they increase their rate of speech.

The key idea is to match, mirror, or complement the customer’s voice in the most effective way. The goal is to stay in synch, to harmonize and adjust quickly as the situation demands. Don't forget this rule when you are in a stressful situation. Don't throttle back: the voice of quiet confidence always wins more sales. 


The Inner Game of Winning

Why did Tom Watson lose the British Open? Why did Tiger Woods miss the cut?

Bad breaks, lack of talent, or a downturn in the economy are not the factors which inhibit success," says Dr. Robert J. Rotella, chairman of sports psychology and physical education at the University of Virginia. Slim, wiry, and extremely peppy, Dr. Rotella is also the golf psychologist for several leading golf pros and the Author of the bestselling book Golf is a Game of Confidence.

"The bad news," says Rotella, "is that the enemy of success is within. But the good news is that the real winner is also within." Success, according to this highly specialized master of the psychology of success, will be accomplished through self-awareness, self-understanding, and internal motivation. "Winners," claims Rotella, "refuse to be psyched out. They realize that no one can make you feel inferior but you."

Rotella also subscribes to the theory that winners, although occasionally discouraged and disappointed, allow setbacks to reconfirm their belief in themselves, their dreams, and their goals. In so doing, he believes they enhance their self-motivation and determination to succeed. Dr. Rotella even teaches workshops for winners. In these scientifically structured situations, he helps corporate executives eliminate negativism and self-imposed barriers that inhibit the achievement of their fullest potential.

"The hardest thing in the world to be is yourself," Rotella tells professional athletes and business executives. He goes on to say that no one personality type is the success model. Anyone and any personality can be successful. By learning to "work within yourself" - a concept that he has defined for some of the top golfers on the pro circuit today - you can use your advantages to their fullest and watch your winning self blossom.

We have all seen the model of the hard working salesperson who imagines that more success will come if he or she just works harder. Rotella, on the other hand, advises that harder work doesn't always assure success -- working better does. He teaches how to do that, without the guilt that often accompanies the driven performer.

Finally, Dr. Rotella says that real winners are safe, secure, and self-confident. They build those around them into winners. Dr. Rotella tells us just how we all can become sales winners.

Self confidence

I can only help someone to build his own confidence. I'm an educator. People keep calling me a shrink - forget that - I see myself as educating athletes about how their minds and bodies work together.

Concentration

People come in to me all the time and say, "I want you to teach me how to concentrate." I usually look at them and say, "Look, you already know how to concentrate. What we've got to do is look at what's stopping you from concentrating." Anyone can concentrate. First, they have to know what to concentrate on. A lot of people perform and they never get around to asking, "What am I supposed to be thinking about?"

Tune out distractions

There are a whole lot of distracters that interfere with concentration because you end up concentrating on the distracter instead of on the appropriate task. People need to be more flexible in their thinking and not to be distracted by the environment stimuli that interfere. Once you get someone confident, they automatically know what to concentrate on and how to do it and how to keep it there. Once they lose that confidence, we have to look at what caused it to happen.

Don’t OD on positive thinking

I think that both losing and hindering confidence have a lot of the same elements. I think we get so involved in positive thinking that we often fail to talk about the realities that exist out there.

I think what we've done over the last fifteen years is to give inspirational talks on being positive and how wonderful everything's going to be - if only you can imagine success - see it in your mind - imagine playing golf or tennis perfectly or flawlessly. Well, the athletes that I work with - the good ones - say, "Hey, that's great. Now when are we going to talk about the way it really is?" I say, "What do you mean?" And they say, "Well, I'm the second best player in the country and when everything is going great I have no problem. When I need help is when everything's not going terrific."

Get your ego out of the way

Tim Carroll, a writer for the WSJ described how Dr. Bob Rotella, was asked after a speech why golfers can play so well on Saturday in a major, but coming down the stretch on Sunday it just gets tougher and tougher. His answer was to ask his questioner who his favorite actress was. When he got an answer, he said he had cleared it with his wife, but the actress had just called him and was coming to meet him in a hotel next door tomorrow night. Dr. Rotella said he cleared it with the man’s wife, God, and anyone else who might have a say in the matter. But here’s the catch, he said: You can’t think about your rendezvous until tomorrow night. If you do, it goes up in a puff of smoke.

That’s what great athletes have to do. Focus on one shot at a time. Don’t think beyond that shot and what it means to your pocketbook, your career, or your place in history.

That’s what great salespeople do. Focus on the conversation with the customer. Don’t think beyond that call and what the outcome means to your pocketbook, your career, or your place on the scoreboard.

Stewart Cink walked away with the British Open trophy. He told reporters, “I grew up watching Tom Watson on television and hoped I could one day follow in his footsteps.” For the critical four hole playoff, chances are that Stewart simply followed the rules of winning the inner game of golf – one shot at a time.

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