4 Lessons a Salesperson Can Learn from the Chicago Blackhawks


(Disclaimer…I’m still beaming with Chicago pride at the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, so this post may be a bit over the top for any out-of-towners).

Last night was one of the best final minutes of any sporting event in recent memory.  What a great ending to a tough series!

Seems like many of the selling situations we’re in become tougher by the year as well.

So what lessons can a salesperson (or any competitor for that matter) glean from the 2013 Blackhawks?

  1. It’s not over until the buzzer. Really – until. the. buzzer.  Play through.  Whether your winning or losing, it can be taken by you or taken from you in the final minutes of the game.  The tying and winning goals were scored within 17 seconds in the last 1.5 minutes of that game.  You need to play with all you’ve got until you’ve got the ink.
  2. Listen to your coaches.  Joel Quenneville helps his players out.  He gives them credit and they help each other win.  He now has 2 Stanley Cups as a Head Coach.  He got there by supporting his players.  You need the support of a coach too.  You know what to do…Connect with a good coach in each selling situation (are those situations without an internal coach really worth your time anyway?).
  3. Don’t listen to your critics (or at least neutralize your detractors).  Chicago goalie Corey Crawford said it best when the smack talk started about some perceived weaknesses.  “I’m not really listening to it,” he said. “I have a job to do and whatever is being said is not going to affect what I am going to do on the ice.”  Good advice.
  4. Prepare.  No one cares more about your success than you do.  During the NHL lockout that threatened this season, Team Captain Jonathan Toews organized informal workouts with the team.  How often do you go the extra mile to prepare for a big sales meeting when no one is looking?

GO Hawks!


Friday Strategy: Make it a 10-Point Day

It’s the end of the week.  Depending on how yours went, you either have 20 pounds of sand and a 10 pound bag and you’re wondering how your going to get it done, or maybe you are at the end of a long week and wondering if you have the steam to keep going and finish strong. 

Either way, here’s an idea:  Make it a 10-point day.

Give yourself a weighted value for key activities accomplished.  Specifics may vary here, just make it a stretch.  For example: 5 points for a contract, 3 points for an executive meeting, 2 points for an executive phone conversation, 1 point for any buyer touch-point like a nice email/voicemail combo.  Now, try to  reach or beat a total of 10 points today.

Hope you need a calculator!


Sales Lessons from The Blackhawks? You Bet!

For Chicagoans,  last night’s Stanley Cup victory by the Blackhawks was an incredible end to an incredible season. When you win your first championship since JFK was in office – it’s a big deal.  We’ll be celebrating for a while here.  But can you take away any sales lessons from this team?  You bet…

1. You can’t score if you don’t come out shooting.  These guys were firing at the net the entire game, and the entire season for that matter.  You have to be playing offense, always focused on the next play, or your competitors will take the momentum.

2. Defend your goal.  Antti Niemi was awesome this year.  He made some incredible stops (as a rookie!) . Without him shutting down the opponents, the wins would not have come.  Are you protecting your existing clients as ferociously

3. It’s a contact sport.  If you’re playing it right, you may even lose some teeth!  You need to know your strengths and play them hard to give your clients outstanding service – bump the competitors out of play.

4. The refs don’t always see it your way.  There were a few tough calls on Chicago last night (goaltender interference? – I don’t think so!),  but you have to roll with it and play with the calls delivered.  There is no such thing as reality – only your clients’ perception counts!  You can think you’re doing great.  What do the refs (your clients) think?

5. You’ve got to win the home and away games.  The Blackhawks had an awesome record on the road.  Hockey is a tough game to win when you’re not on your home ice.  Remember, to win over the long-term, you need to win with existing clients (home) and net new clients (away) as well!

6. The cup is worth the fight!  It sometimes seems like the sales battle is getting the best of you.  But if you give it all you have – and then give some more, truly serving your clients and stunning them with results, then you may get to kiss the 118 year-old trophy!


Yeah, It’s a Number Game Too…

Like success in any professional career, there are many ingredients to success in selling.  Accurate opportunity targeting – as my friends at Selling To Zebras will tell you, is a critical one.  Chase the right prey and your hunt will be more successful.  

Another key element is using a solid framework (pick a methodology that fits your situation) for high-gain conversations with prospects to elicit their needs and to link your solutions in meaningful ways.  

Also important are elements like pre-call planning, lead-nurturing, compelling proposal creation, Ferocious Follow-up – the list is too long to discuss in one post.

One inescapable success factor is activity.  A wise sales mentor once told me that activity yields opportunity which yields results.  Sometimes hearing that sales is a “numbers game” is a turn off.  It makes the sales process seem cheesy or pushy in some way.  But the fact that you need to produce quantity as well as target quality is not a contradiction.  It takes both. You can have the best targets in the world, but unless you are acting on them daily, all you have is a glorified list.  Go ahead – put up some numbers today!

Marketing, Sales

Things May Come to Those Who Wait…

But only the things left by those who HUSTLE! 

This quote sits in my office as a reminder of a person who failed many times over his life, but always worked harder than everyone else and ended up as one of our most famous Americans – Abe Lincoln. 

Imagine if you got up each morning with this at the top of your mind.  How many more calls would you make?  How many more meetings would you have?  How many extra value would you deliver to your clients? 


How much more success would you see?