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Sales Lessons From Europe's Victory At The Ryder Cup
by Andy Preston


After watching Europe's victory against the USA in the Ryder Cup, I was aware of how many 'sales lessons' could be gained from Europe's victory.  So, here are the biggest ones and how they relate to your sales, and those of your team.

Sales Lesson Number 1 - Up Your Game

There's a big lessons here for salespeople and managers alike. When you're most up against it, you need to up your game.  Before his foursomes game against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood was quoted as saying that when you're up against the No 1 in the world, you need to up your game.

And that's a huge lesson for sales.  When you're going for a big deal, when you're up against strong competition, when you know you're not going to have it all your own way, you need to up your 'sales game'.

That means you have to be better at planning, preparation and research into the client.  Better at questioning.  Better at uncovering their true needs.  Better at drawing out their objections and concerns - and handling them.  And of course, better at gaining commitment and closing the deal.

And you can trust Lee Westwood to know what it takes.  He's beaten Tiger Woods in 6 of their last 7 matches together.

Sales Lesson Number 2 - Get Other People Involved

This is not just a lesson from this year's Ryder Cup, but from the last one as well.  Last time around in the US, Europe Captain Nick Faldo tried to do it with a small support team, taking most of the pressure on his own shoulders.

This time around however, Europe Captain Colin Montgomerie had a number of vice captains, and seemed to be appointing more vice captains by the day as ex-players kept turning up!  At one stage it looks as though Europe were going to have a vice captain for every match out on the course!

Montgomerie was clever.  He surrounded his team (many of whom were rookies) with experienced professionals, people who knew what it took to win tense, close-run Ryder Cup matches (as they had done it themselves).  People who could motivate and inspire his players on his behalf.

The lesson here for sales is - you don't have to do everything on your own!  You'll have people around you - other salespeople, your sales manager, other colleagues who can help and give ideas on deals you're currently working on.  Or perhaps you've even got a sales coach or mentor that can help inspire you.

Sales can be a lonely and difficult occupation when things aren't going well - so that can often be the BEST time to ask for help from those around you.

Sales Lesson Number 3 - The 'Little Things' Count

In golf, like in sales, the little things can count for a lot!  In a close game where Europe won 14.5 to the USA's 13.5, every hole that was 'saved', every birdie and every close hole that was won - they all counted.

You could even go back to individual matches - in particular the Molinaris against Cink and Kucher.  Francesco Molinari hadn't made a putt all day (missing some very 'makeable' ones), yet when it mattered on the 18th green, he made the one that counted, securing half a point for Europe when they looked like losing that match for most of the round!  That half-point instead of a loss meant that Europe won the trophy, rather than the USA retaining it.

You can point at plenty of 'little things' that made the difference in the Ryder Cup - just like you can point to plenty of 'little things' that make the difference in sales!  Often, it's the little things that the salesperson does (or doesn't do) that make the difference in sales.

Sometimes it can even be simple things like, arriving on time for an appointment, sending information when you promised, preparing useful items for a meeting, or doing some research on the prospect!

There are plenty of 'little things' that some salespeople dismiss as 'unimportant'.  Make sure you don't make that same mistake.

Sales Lesson Number 4 - Get Inspired

Inspiration is a much undervalued part of sales.  Inspiration can be the thing that makes the difference between a salesperson winning - or losing - a deal.  It can be the difference between a company being invited in to tender - or not.  And it can be the difference between you and your team hitting their targets - or not.

Yet often 'inspiration' is taken for granted, or overlooked - both by salespeople themselves and by their managers.  When it's not there however, it's noticeable by its absence - in the tonality, body language, and sales figures of the salespeople involved!

There's no better example of the difference inspiration can make than Ian Poulter at this year's Ryder Cup.  A lot of people would say that Ian is a good golfer, but he's never really gone on to fulfill his potential.

Yet it's obvious to everyone watching that Ian is inspired by the Ryder Cup.  The effect that has is that he feels more confident, more determined and resolves to play to his ultimate best - all of which are great attributes for sales, wouldn't you say?

Out of interest, Ian has now won 7 of his last 9 Ryder Cup matches, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of his singles matches - just think what a difference inspiration could make to you and your sales team......

Sales Lesson Number 5 - Deal With The Pressure

Pressure is part of sales, just like it's part of golf - and any professional sport for that matter, The individual's REACTION to pressure however if often what makes the difference.

So how do you and your team react when the pressure is on?  When you're invited in to present to a board of directors up against 5 other companies - how do you feel?  When you're going in for your second meeting with the prospect and you know they're going to base their decision on YOUR meeting - will this meeting really be the best it can be?  If this is going to be the biggest deal your company has ever won, does that make you more nervous, or anxious to make sure you win it (rather than lose it!)

When Europe's Graeme McDowell faced up to a 15-foot putt on the 16th green, he'd just lost the 15th hole and knew that the team, the fans, and most of Europe was counting on him to win - for if he lost or drew, the USA would retain the Ryder Cup.  No small amount of pressure there then! 

Yet McDowell was calm enough to hole that 15-foot putt under tremendous pressure, and when the USA's Hunter Mahan fluffed a short chip on the 17th, he conceded and Europe won.  Would you and your team be able to handle pressure like that and still come out smiling?


The Author

Andy Preston

Andy Preston is a leading expert on Sales and Selling, and helps individuals and companies increase their sales.  You can see more about Andy at .

Many more articles in Sales & Marketing in The CEO Refresher Archives
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