“Fear is really an umbrella term for three distinct sensations: excitement, uncertainty, and pressure.“ — Eileen Gu, professional freestyle skier
Over the past month, the global spectacle of the Olympics once again left us captivated by the dedication, determination, and grit that goes into being an Olympian. Being an SDR may feel like a broad comparison to being an Olympian—regardless of what your motivational poster says—there is a lot that salespeople can learn from an Olympic competitor's approach to managing fear.
In a recent essay published in The New York Times, gold-winning freestyle skier, Eileen Gu, openly discusses her relationship to fear, and the tactics she uses to overcome it. What really stood out to us in the sales world, is the “three distinct sensations” she describes are similar to the sensations a seller might encounter during the sales process: excitement, uncertainty, and pressure.
Her approach to these sensations became her method of accepting the universality of fear. Harnessing those feelings and leveraging them to create better chances for positive successes—whether skiing or selling—can mean all the difference between a landed jump and an injury, a closed deal and lost opportunity.
Eileen describes her first step in overcoming fear as visualization, in which the sales community can directly relate. Obviously, it's a bit different than visualizing landing a double cork 1620 jump, but the visualization of competition and performance has been proven over and over again to be the key to sales success.
Similar to the way Eileen visualizes her landing, it's also important for sellers to be able to visualize their goals to know where they're going, which is why making sure that sales reps have real-time data and goal progression available to them aid their training and preparation.
Preparation is critical to success yet uncertainty is a byproduct of ill-preparation and can trip up even the most seasoned skier or confident seller. As they say in the sales world, if you’re doing it right, there's no such thing as a cold call. Without the proper visualization tools and transparency on goals, it's difficult to see or prepare for the uncertainty.
While the 'game' might be different, sellers and Olympians have a lot more in common than you think.