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Michael Phelps: Lessons for Inside Sales Teams

02 Sep 2016 | By Mark Cradock

There’s a great story about Michael Phelps, perhaps the greatest Olympian of all time, at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In the 200 metre butterfly final, when he dived into the water, his goggles immediately started filling with water. By the time he was reaching the final turn of the race, his goggles were completely full with water, and he couldn’t see a thing. He was racing blind.

Now, even if you’re Michael Phelps, that’s a very high-pressured situation to be in, in the midst of an Olympic final that you have prepared 4 years for, when you have the world’s best swimmers trying their damnedest to beat you, and millions of people watching. But Phelps stayed calm and relaxed, knew instantly exactly what to do, and had faith in it. How?

Because he had already, incredibly, prepared for and visualised exactly this scenario occurring. His coach had even had him actually swim in complete darkness in a Michigan pool to help preparations. Phelp’s mental preparations and extreme focus for races have become famous, and part of that includes visualising and preparing for every single situation that might occur.

Back to the final …... Phelps concentrated on the process, on the strokes he needed to make, counting the number that he knew should take him to the wall, and on the twenty first stroke stretched ahead to touch the wall, blindly, and in world record breaking fashion.

When he ripped off the goggles, cleared his eyes and looked up at the board, he must have got a great buzz when he saw WR and Gold against his name!!

The benefits of visualisation in all endeavours is well documented – by creating and imagining a very detailed vision (including not just the visual, but also the sound, the smell, the feeling) of what you wish to achieve, your mind, including subconscious mind, is empowered to achieve this vision. It’s a common and very powerful ‘winner’s’ tactic.

However, what is often over-looked in this area is the power in visualising and preparing for different scenarios – including negative scenarios such as going blind in the middle of an Olympic final race! There are strong benefits to imagining and preparing for negative scenarios, which goes against the ‘only think of positive things’ psychology that is commonly, but less effectively, employed. Benefits such as:

  • Allows you to think coolly, outside the ‘heat of the moment’, of the best decisions to make in the scenario.
  • Helps you simulate and ‘play out’ the outcome of decisions to help weigh up the best decision.
  • By making your decision in the imagined scenario, you are pre-deciding for if the situation actually occurs, and therefore removing any need for decision making (or panic) at the time.
  • You are preparing your mind and body for if the scenario occurs, so that you can remain calm and relaxed for if it occurs.
  • You are maintaining a positive mindset, because through visualising success in each scenario, you are creating a powerful vision of achievement that your mind will automatically start working towards.

This lesson can also be applied to inside sales individuals and teams. In training yourself and your team, you should seek to cover all scenarios, and this will enable the same benefits listed above. Don’t fall into the classic sales coaching trap of only providing generic sales scripts and a fixed visual image of success to your team.

You and your team will be asked all sorts of questions and encounter a wide variety of creative objections from prospects, so seek to take positive action by preparing for all scenarios! Including if someone says:

  • “I’m not interested”
  • “Call me back next year”
  • “I don’t have budget”
  • “It’s too expensive”
  • “He’s in a meeting”
  • “My boss says no”

And many, many more. If you are looking to improve your own performance, rehearse all of these situations (as many as you can think of), and act them out (loud). Listen to yourself, consider how it sounds. Practice it with colleagues and then also use it on prospects – because they offer good practice too! If you are managing a sales team, then rehearse them as a team, do role plays of different scenarios every week, and achieve positive outcomes from all of them. And yes, have them visualise success, including overcoming challenges on the way. It has powerful effects, and will help generate powerful results – and hopefully a few gold medals!!

Contact us to find out how our own Inside Sales Team prepare for every situation they may face and how they could win gold for your company!


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Topics: B2B Telemarketing, Inside Sales

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