What can a Sales Professional learn from the 2010 US Open?

Tiger Woods was sitting in 3rd position going into the Final Round of the 2010 US Open in Pebble Beach, CA sitting at -1 after an incredible finish on Saturday where he moved from +6 to -1.  Dustin Johnson was sitting at -6 heading into the final round in first place.  And Graeme McDowell, from Northern Ireland was sitting in 2nd place at -3 heading into the final round on Sunday.

Dustin Johnson choked big time with a + 11, Tiger Woods blew a few swing holes, and Graeme McDowell won the tournament by just one stroke.  The difference in earnings between Graeme McDowell and Dustin Johnson?  $1,350,000 for Graeme McDowell vs. $177,534 to Dustin Johnson who tied for 8th place.  Difference in Total Strokes for the 4 days of golfing?  Graeme: 284, Dustin: 289.  Just 5 strokes difference cost Dustin over $1M!  What about Jason Preeo from Highlands Ranch, Colorado?  He shot a 311 (+ 27 for the tournament).  Winnings: $11,707.

How is this similar to measuring success in sales?  The #1 player usually makes orders of magnitude better than the next best players.  And the bottom players–don’t make very much at all.  Jason Preeo made just $11,707.  When you are looking for a sales leader to lead your sales team, or you are looking for sales professionals, are you looking for the best athletes or are you settling for +27?  For quota carrying sales reps, it’s easy to track success–did they exceed their quota or not, and by how much?  What about for a “traditional ISR”?  Ask them behavioral interviewing questions about their history.  What were the top three things your last employer measured?  How did you rank?  What “metrics” do you put on yourself to drive pipeline and sales?

Learn from the 2010 US Open:

  1. There are “Graeme McDowell’s” in the making, can you spot them and hire them on your sales team?
  2. Sometimes even the best athletes need to check their ego at the door and go back to the drawing board.  Tiger earned $300k, 5 strokes away from a coveted US Open WIN and $1.3M.  Are some of your “A Players” holding back from being an A Plus?  What can you do to help them realize, and re-connect with their goals?  For Tiger, it was clearly his mental game, he has the physical part down.  If someone can help him figure that out, that could be the added 5 strokes.
  3. NEVER burn a bridge.  Flying directly over the course just a few minutes into the round was a sign that read “Tiger, are you my Daddy?”.  Tiger burned a bridge with a lot of fans.  In sales, be professional or it may just bite you down the road.