I published this post earlier today at Sales and Marketing Management's S&MM SoundOff Weblog. Although the focus of that blog is on sales and marketing, the qualities discussed below are applicable to any leader, innovator or change agent.
Brett Favre retired this week after 17 years in the National Football League and 16 years as a Green Bay Packer. Even if you are not a lifelong Packer fan as I am, you almost certainly have a high level of respect for Brett Favre as a competitor and as a person. As I watched his press conference announcing his retirement today, it was clear that what makes Brett Favre so appealing to so many can make salespeople stand out, too.
So here are five ways that Brett Favre approached the game that you can use to make you a hall-of-famer in sales.
- Play like you mean it. Favre is proud of the fact that in 17 years of professional football, he has never held back for even one play. Don't do your best because someone else is watching. Do it because each moment is valuable. Choose to do your best because it is the right thing to do. If you are lucky, you can look back on your career with no regrets.
- Make everyone around you better. During his years with the Packers, Brett was not always surrounded by the most talented players. Yet, by his example, Brett inspired others to elevate their commitment and results. He said that one of the things he will really miss is being around his teammates. He will miss preparing for each game with his receivers, challenging each other in a good-natured way to figure out how to play at a high level and win. Don't complain that your marketing team is not on message or that your delivery team is dropping the ball. Who would you need to be to make them better - and have fun in the process?
- It's not about you. During his press conference today, Brett stated that while the quarterback gets the most attention, for him, it has always been about the team and the fans. Although the strategic account manager or the Regional VP of Sales get to take their spouses on the club trip for making quota, remember that your entire organization is responsible for helping you win. Brett also talked about commitment to the fans (also known as the customer). Express gratitude. You cannot succeed alone. If you don't want the customer booing you, figure out how to get them on your side.
- Celebrate your success. One of the reasons Brett says he decided to retire was because he reached a point where he was not celebrating the way he used to. Even on Sunday nights after a win, Brett said that he began to study game film instead of enjoying the victory or spending time with his family. Brett said that he could remember nearly every play of every game he had every played, but could not say that about experiences off the field. What price are you willing to pay for your success? Find a way to create balance and give yourself a chance to recover after big campaigns.
- Be real. Brett said that as he prepared for the press conference, he thought of wearing a suit and tie and thought of writing down some prepared comments. Instead, he wore jeans and a shirt and spoke from the heart. "What you see is what you get," said Brett. Customers don't care about how carefully you have crafted your presentation or how much homework you have done to understand their needs if you are not authentic. Trust is more and more valuable as a currency. Earn it by being real.
From the outside, we see Brett Favre as a fun-loving gunslinger who loved to show up on Sundays and give his best. We see him as a quarterback who holds nearly every NFL record at his position. But as you listen to Brett speak about his passion for the game, his teammates, his fans and his family, it is clear that what makes him so special is the character that lies within.
We are all fortunate to have careers where we can have tremendous impact on customers and the people that they serve. Use that privilege well - and have some fun along the way!
Greg Krauska is President of The Change Agent Group, where he helps organizations innovate and create a winning sales culture. Find out more at www.changeagentgroup.com