From Average Joe to Sergio: How to Become a Master of Sales

by Linda P. Kester May/June 2017

Sergio Garcia recently won the 2017 Masters Golf Tournament after 18 years without winning a major tournament. Linda Kester uses his experience as a lesson for sales people to achieve the volume of their dreams.

Linda P. Kester,
Writer & Professional Speaker,
Institute of Personal Development

Do you ever feel like you are stuck in mediocrity? Many equipment finance salespeople say they want to increase volume, yet they remain in the middle of the pack. Despite having incredible potential and intelligence, they achieve unexceptional results. They become an average Joe: not too high, not too low. The 2017 Masters Golf Tournament was a classic lesson for average Joes. Sergio Garcia, a professional golfer with loads of natural talent, had never won a major tournament, even though he played in 73 majors over 18 years.

Garcia is one of the top golfers in the world; he’s not average. However, he didn’t get the results he dreamed about. This year’s Masters seemed like it was going to be the same sad story. Garcia was in the lead and needed just one short putt to win. He missed, and there had to be a playoff. The internet was buzzing with snarky comments with a common theme: “Sergio chokes again.” Then, the most unlikely thing happened; he pulled it together. He won the playoff and finally broke into the top echelon of pro golfers.

Garcia entered the golf scene with major fanfare, similar to the way some sales people are hired. Management gets so excited about the potential of a new rep they see visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads. They feel like they’ve hired a protégé. The equipment finance industry, like golf, is filled with opportunity and high expectations. But bad habits can bring heartbreak and despair. Here are some examples of bad habits shared by Garcia and chronic average sales performers.

Unprofessional Traits

Garcia was his own worst enemy. At Bethpage Black in 2002 during the U.S. Open, he kept re-gripping his club and slowed down play. The tough Long Island crowd started to mock him by counting the number of times he re-gripped. His response? Flipping the bird.

In 2007, he spit in the cup (the place you put your hand in to pick up the ball…eeew!) after he missed a putt at Doral.

Average reps participate in unprofessionalism by badmouthing the competition. It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, but if you trash them, you are trashing the industry. The same can be said for a rep who receives a complaint from a lessee and proceeds to place the blame on a different department at their company. In an attempt to be liked, they may take the side of the lessee and criticize their internal policies. This kind of behavior makes you seem powerless and will not make the customer want to do repeat business. These are some examples of how reps can make themselves their own worst enemies:

Self-Defeating Thoughts

According to Golf Digest, at the 2012 Masters, Garcia said, “I’m not good enough…I don’t have the thing that I need to have to win majors.”1

Humans, on average, think 60,000 thoughts a day, and most of them are the same. Average sales people think, “I’m not smart enough to be a top producer,” “My territory is the worst,” “These leads are awful” and “The credit manager is so tight he only breathes in.”

Moodiness

Average performing reps are easily distracted and sulk when things don’t go their way.

Garcia was a world-class sulker during two second place finishes in 2007 and 2008.

Play the Blame Game

Average and poor performing reps participate in negativity, excuse making, whining, blaming and defeatism. Garcia was known as a whiner. In 2013, Tiger Woods told The New Yorker, “It’s not real surprising that Sergio’s complaining about something.”2
On Sunday of this year’s Masters, Garcia had every reason to pack it in. He was falling apart again and could have gone right back into his self-defeating patterns. But he didn’t. He played more effectively by changing his outlook.

Commitment

Despite difficulties, he remained patient and undaunted. This is vital for sales people. Don’t simply consider making more prospect calls, commit to it. Reps have the power to increase their volume, profits and results. They need to be adamant about protecting their time. Don’t get caught up in activities that don’t produce sales and income. When you make a big commitment, you get big results. Take yourself seriously. Don’t give up at the first hint of rejection.

Transformed Attitude

The thoughts we think, the words we speak and the beliefs we hold are powerful. To go from average Joe to Sergio, reps must make the changes in their minds first, then their volume will respond accordingly.

One way to do this is to surround yourself with inspirational quotes. “Attitudes are more important than facts,” wrote famed psychiatrist Karl Menninger.

When you win the Masters you get a green jacket. Garcia’s fiancée, Angela Akins, covered the bathroom mirror of their Georgia rental home in green sticky notes, each featuring a motivational quote. She also had friends and family hand write letters on green paper stating why they loved Garcia and why they knew he could win.

Phil Laut, author of Money is My Friend, says, “Increasing your wealth is a matter of increasing the quality of your thoughts.” Garcia increased the quality of his thoughts and increased his wealth by millions in just one day. He thought differently than he had in his past 73 attempts. He made different choices and produced a different outcome. What Garcia discovered is that the greatest hurdle is never “out there.” Success is an inside job.

Embrace Discomfort

People resist change because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Was Garcia uncomfortable? Of course he was. It was different. He was tapping into the challenge of change. Are you willing to feel uncomfortable for a little while? Sales techniques like trying new opening statements, staying on the phone longer with a prospect and asking for a meeting three times can feel scary and uncomfortable. Realize it won’t be uncomfortable forever, only for a short period of time until you get used to it. Resistance to change is inevitable — it’s a signal that you are leaving your comfort zone — acknowledge it, embrace it and then plow forward.

Let Go

Release your attachment to the outcome. “Lately I’ve been getting some good help,” Garcia told Golf Digest after he won. “And kind of accepting, too, that if it for whatever reason it didn’t happen, my life is still going to go on. It’s not going to be a disaster.”3

Have you ever seen a rep who is desperately trying to make a deal close, but ends up pushing the deal away? It happens all the time. The rep who is not emotionally attached to the outcome says, “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, that’s OK. I have plenty more in my backlog.” This rep wins the deal and closes the transaction.

After Garcia won, he told Golf Digest, “Some of the moments I’ve had here at Augusta that maybe I haven’t enjoyed as much and how stupid I really was trying to fight against something that you can’t fight, and how proud I was of accepting things. And this week, I’ve done it better than I ever had.”4

This week, embrace the four habits that Garcia used: commit to increasing your prospecting effort, improve your attitude and the quality of your thoughts, realize that you are going to be uncomfortable and release attachment to the outcome. Then you’ll be on your way to major sales achievements.

Footnotes

  1. Diaz, Jaime. “Masters 2017: What it took for Sergio Garcia to finally win a major.” Golf Digest. April 10, 2017.
  2. Crouch, Ian. “Sergio Garcia and The Lifespan of an Offensive Remark.” The New Yorker. May 25, 2013.
  3. Diaz. “Masters 2017.”
  4. Ibid.

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