What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Sales Success (Persistence)

Michael Jordan Sales


Nike’s 1997 Michael Jordan “9,000 shots” commercial is still my all-time favorite.   It is a great example of what it takes to succeed in sales and life in general.  I still find myself drawn too it when on Youtube.  In just 30 seconds, it sums up the importance of persistence.

The commercial has Michael walking into the arena through the player entrance.  As he is walking past fans behind security railing and staff of the arena, you can hear his thoughts:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

That is a powerful message about the mindset of the greatest player the game of basketball has ever seen.  Michael worked harder than anyone in basketball to perfect his craft and used the 9,000 missed shots and 300 losses to fuel his drive to win.  That internal drive eventually led him and the Chicago Bulls to 6 NBA Championships.

Do you look at sales like Michael looked at basketball?  If not, you should.  He worked hard on his game and mindset.  Those are also important traits in sales.  As salespeople we should always look to improve our game.  Be like Mike and become a student of our game, selling.  We also need to make sure we approach sales with the proper mindset.  We need to look at the no’s as steps in the process.

No’s are the equivalent of Michael Jordan’s missed shots.  In sales it is inevitable that we are going to be rejected by prospects and there are going to be days that you will feel like you “fail over and over and over again” and those are the days you need to keep pushing through to your victory just like Michael would.  Learning how to overcome objections and getting fewer no’s is an important part of our growth as sales professionals.

Spending countless time on a prospect, understanding their needs, developing a presentation based on their needs, presenting findings, back and forth conversations, overcoming objections and the proposals only to have your prospect select one of your competitors are the equivalent of Michael’s losses.  He did not give up in this situation; he would work harder on the next one to be sure he won.  We all need to do the same, and make sure we put in the work necessary to win the next client.

You cannot dwell on these setbacks.  Michael didn’t, they made him work harder, and he would spend his off season’s expanding his skill set.  Later in his career he became a master of the fade away jumper.  He added this new skill to become even better.  We can do the same in sales.  We can look at why we got the no, or why we lost the sale to a competitor and use that information to increase our chances for victory the next time we enter the field of competition.  Persistence does pay off.

Though I will never be like Mike in basketball, I continually work to be like him in sales.  We should all strive to have Mike’s work ethic and mindset so we can be at the top of our profession.

Please share your thoughts on this post.

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David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reasons people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou or visit www.whybuyfromyou.com.

Posted in Sales, Sales Management, Sales Skills, Sales Traits
One comment on “What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Sales Success (Persistence)
  1. Amber says:

    Great lesson David. Persistence. it is not how many times you have failed in sales but how you used it to be better and achieve your goals.

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