Larry LevineOnce asked about why he was so successful on the basketball court, Kobe Bryant looked at the reporter and said: “Have you seen Los Angeles at 4am? I see it often because that’s when I start training.”

It can sometimes be difficult to find differences in top athletes which are noticeable. Their level of physical imbalance is minimal. What is it separating the good from the great? What separates Kobe Bryant from good athletes?

At the IMG Sports Academy, they share their insight on what differentiates average athletes from the excellent ones. Top athletes have a growth mindset. These athletes believe their talents can be developed through consistent training, evaluation and practice. Conversely, athletes with a fixed mindset tend to believe their talent is the key determinant of success thus their ability is fixed. These athletes end up not realizing their full potential. Sound like sales reps?

Is there a possible similarity between top sales professionals and the average ones? Sales reps consistently talk about their work ethic as most enjoy puffing the chest BUT are they really committed to it? Do they really walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to putting in the hard work and long hours it takes to separate the top sales professionals from the average?

Top athletes understand that the process of developing their talents will have obstacles along the way. They embrace the challenge of getting better every day. They understand failure is just another challenge, a roadblock to overcome.

Top athletes encourage feedback from their coaches, using it to focus on areas of improvement. Less successful athletes tend to dismiss, ignoring feedback and focus on the person providing it, rather than using it as an opportunity to reflect and grow. Sound like sales reps?

What separates an average athlete from an average sales rep?
Millions of dollars and their mindset.

Average athletes see the success of others as a threat, top athletes find inspiration and motivation. They learn from the success of others by modeling their behavior and habits. Top athletes do not fear competition, they embrace it. They use it as motivation to push themselves to the next level and maximize their potential.

The roadmap to success for an elite athlete is based on hard work, personal ownership and how it is applied. They understand they must apply themselves in all aspects of their training. They take ownership, holding themselves accountable to the process.

So, this had me thinking…

Why do sales reps have difficulties doing what elite athletes are paid to do? What makes a sales professional AND how they go about doing their job any different than an elite athlete?

My answer to you all is quite simple – MINDSET!

Mindset – Will Do versus Can Do

At the highest levels of sports competition, physical ability between athletes is relatively equal. The difference in performance comes down to what is happening inside the athlete’s mind. Can the same be said for a sales professional?

“To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.”

Kobe Bryant

Baseball great Yogi Berra once said “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

What does the “mental game” actually mean? Can this translate to one sales rep versus another sales rep? What does a top sales professional do differently from a sub-par sales rep when it comes to the mental side of the equation?

Why do sales reps insist on getting paid top dollar but lack a top athlete mindset?

Top athletes, the elite of the elite do things just a little differently than the average athlete. Does the same apply to sales reps?

Think for a moment… How can a professional athlete, an elitist sitting at the top of their game operate at peak performance with the mindset of most sales reps?

Top Athletes Get Real

Can the same be said for sales reps? Elite athletes set goals and invest the mental and physical energy towards achieving their goals. They equip themselves with an arsenal of effort, patience, and persistence as they know their journey is difficult. They are realistically optimistic. Can the same be said for sales reps?

Top Athletes Believe in Being the Best

Can the same be said for sales reps? Top athletes know, no matter what, there is always room from improvement. Sometimes this may involve learning a different technique, strategy, or having a different coach. It also may involve learning a new skill altogether. How does this apply to sales reps?

Top Athletes Build upon Success with Consistency

Can the same be said for sales reps? Their success is built upon small sustainable changes. When those become second nature, they add in new challenges. Whatever their goal is they track their progress towards it by keeping training logs. Can the same be said for sales reps?

Top Athletes Hang out with Top Athletes

Can the same be said for sales reps? Top athletes surround themselves with positive energy and other top athletes. Find those people and groups who support your goals. Eradicate as much negativity from your life as you possibly can. You are who you hang out with!

Top Athletes Have Grit

Can the same be said for sales reps? Fear of failure is crippling. There will always be naysayers and Debbie-doubters. Top athletes commit to long-term goals and hold firm in the face of challenges and difficulties. They simply possess and utilize consistent skill sets which elicit positive results. Elite athletes believe in themselves and their ability to constantly improve. They set realistic goals, they surround themselves with the right people, and they stay the course through tough times. Does this hold true with sales reps?

All this being said, why do seasoned, tenured sales reps believe they don’t have to do the things necessary that top athletes do in order to stay at the top of their game?

What Time Do You Wake Up?

Imagine for a moment, how long would any professional sports athlete last on their team with the attitude and mindset of most sales reps? Not long at all, as they would be released from their team immediately. Some can say athletes are over-paid prima donnas, however; the one thing they possess that most sales reps don’t – a growth mindset.

I encourage the self-centered and the “all about me” sales reps out there to kick the complacent mindset. Do you think a complacent mindset lands an elite athlete a new contract?

Sports athletes don’t come out of rookie training camp saying, “I’m shooting for average – average skills, average income and average performance.

When you started out as a sales rep you didn’t set out with the goal of hanging on, doing enough to just “get by”, or riding it by figuring out how to survive until I can inherit another sales reps accounts. Well, at least not in the beginning, correct?

You learned that mindset. You learned that behavior. You learned to settle.

I am positive the mind can be convinced of almost anything if you tell it the same story over and over again. So here lies the question to all of you in sales…

Are you really happy with average results or have you just convinced yourself that’s the case?

If you would like some inspiration I welcome the conversation or send me a message to llevine@socialsalesacademy.net. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

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This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse and has been adapted for use on this blog with kind permission of Larry Levine. 

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