Nobody knows about risk and reward better than salespeople do. They get into the field because they believe in themselves and their abilities, and understand that they control their own destiny. They don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for things to fall in their. They’re not fans, they’re players. They know the rewards (large pay days) and they understand the risks (termination).
When 2010 Masters Champion Phil Mickelson was asked after his thrilling win yesterday what’s the difference between a great shot and smart shot he replied, “A great shot is when you pull it off. A smart shot is when you don’t have the guts to try it.” It’s interesting line, one to mull over if you’re in sales.
Those who follow golf know that Mickelson is a risk taker who can pull off memorable, how-did-he-do-that? shots at crucial, nerve racking times (as he did on the 13th hole yesterday), as well as make some bone-headed moves, like his “I’m so stupid” moment on the 18th hole of the 2006 US Open. Always true to himself, Mickelson lives and dies by his risk-taking ways.
Playing it smart is playing it safe is what Mickelson is talking about. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with playing it smart, playing the percentages, containing yourself, not trying to do too much. The flipside is: How can you grow if you don’t take chances, don’t challenge yourself? Well, you can’t. Playing it safe might be smart but it’s never going to take you places you need to go, namely success and failure. The successful salesperson builds on success and learns from failure.
How many sales managers out there are encouraging their employees to roll the dice and go for it? How many leaders are telling their teams, “Go after that hard to reach prospect, experiment with your pitch and post-pitch, be bolder, don’t be afraid!”?
Salespeople in a leadership role should encourage their employees to take chances, take risks, and have fun doing it.
There is a certain joy about watching Mickelson play golf. He’s fun to watch because he’s having fun and he’s unafraid. And for those people out there who believe that you need to be steely-eyed, cold, and robotic to be successful, well, you didn’t watch the Masters yesterday, and you didn’t see how being risky sometimes pays off—pays off big time.