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Muhammad Ali – Two Lessons to the Salesperson from “The Greatest”

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Muhammad Ali - Two Lessons to the Salesperson from “The Greatest”

Muhammad Ali – a legend synonymous with heavyweight boxing. This iconic sportsman, who died on 3rd June in Scottsdale, Arizona, was named the greatest heavyweight of all time by Ring Magazine. As a sales training professional, I believe reps can learn a couple of important lessons from the deceased former champion.

Lesson 1: Have the right frame of mind

Impossible is nothing.

Muhammad Ali faced some of the best boxers of his time. But, he was never cowed down by the track record of his opponents. For example, he entered the match against Sonny Liston as a 7 -1 underdog. This fact did not prevent Ali from having the right attitude – tough and aggressive.

Sales reps too need to have the right attitude when they tackle a prospect or competition. In his post, 5 Essential Traits of a Sales Champion, Gustavo J. Chavez states good salespersons have a winning attitude which helps them close more deals than others. He lists the following as the secrets of a top sales rep.

  • Willingness to listen to the prospective customer
  • A mindset invested in providing the right solutions
  • The courage to think differently
  • Respect for time
  • Belief in himself

Chavez believes the right sales attitude can be fostered through sales training programs which help reps convey the value proposition effectively. He also advises firms to take steps to improve the emotional abilities of their sales folk.

Lesson 2: Train and train well

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.

Training is the key to success. Muhammad Ali knew this perfectly well and trained hard to improve his fitness and abilities. Angelo Dundee, his long time trainer once remarked, “He was the first guy in the gym, and the last to leave.” It was good training that helped Ali come back after a three and half year “exile”, for objecting to be drafted into the Vietnam War.

Like the skilled pugilist, successful sales reps understand the importance of training in enhancing their performance. They strive to constantly improve their knowledge and skills, and this goes a long way in helping them sell better.

The report, Once is Not Enough – Why Sales Training Reinforcement Is a Must-have, published by the Aberdeen Group revealed top companies accord the highest priority to sales rep training and are 15% more likely than poor performers to support post-training sales education.

A never-say-die attitude was one of the greatest strengths of Muhammad Ali. This legendary pugilist laid huge emphasis on training, and it was arguably the most important element of his successful career. Similarly, a rep with a positive mindset and proper training often emerges the sales champion. Hope you find this post interesting. Do share your thoughts.

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