Sales Coaching: Lessons from the Mets’ Psychologist

Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching

While hardly a new idea, professional sport teams increasingly are hiring psychologists to work with their players.  Individual athletes, like golfers and tennis players, are too.  In all cases the goal is the same: Gaining an edge and lifting performance to the next level.

Since I happen to be a psychologist by education, I wondered what type of advice my professional colleagues are providing and whether it might be helpful to Sales?  I came across an article in the NY Times by Tim Rohan sharing how the Mets are using a sport psychologist.  Since Mets did make it to the World Series, it seemed like a good case study.

While specific advice differs for each athlete, several Mets players have reported that the Mets’ psychologist Jonathan Fader’s advice has been particularly helpful reference how to handle those critical moments where stress is off the scale.

The Mets coach, Terry Collins summarizes Fader’s overarching message for handling those high stress moments as follows: “Slow down – instead of rushing, take a second, take a breath, assess where you’re going.”

With that little nugget in hand, a couple of points in regard sales coaching came to mind.  First, like sports there are those high stress moments that occur from time to time. So the fundamental mental challenge exists in both professions.

Second, from our observation of salespeople, a frequent response to those stressful moments is the exact opposite of “slow down.”  Often the sales rep speeds up – talking more, talking faster, and providing yet another feature of the product.

So the simple advice from Dr. Fader about “slowing down” may not be all bad.  We would add a good idea would be: “Stop talking and start asking.”  Asking a question provides a way to slow down, to listen and gain some time to figure out where to go next.

As the rookie Mets starter Noah Syndergaard noted: “It doesn’t matter how physically talented you are; if you’re not able to conquer your own mind, you can’t really do much.”

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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