Put A Shot Clock Mentality On Your Sales Career

You did your part…

You took a customer from a 1" crack in their window and got them out of the car, test driven, and interested enough to move forward. After fighting through the “we’re just looking today” force field, having their trade evaluated, and doing some creative finagling, they finally agreed to buy. Feeling like you could walk on water, your manager tells you that everything looks good; you get your paperwork together and hand your customers a few trash bags so they can go clean out their trade. Suddenly your manager pages you to his desk-judging from the tension in his voice, you knew something wasn’t quite right. Dismissively he says, “I misread the bank call, you don’t have a deal…” That was all you heard, everything was a blur, after that. Your fears begin to kick in because you remembered that your landlord pushed your rent back to the 15th and the bank only got half of the car note last month-you needed this deal and twenty more like it to stay afloat. Numbed, you walk with a forced smirk and tell your customers, who were already 20 days late on their car payment, that they need $8000 down to make this deal work.

Moments like these happen in the car business. Trades get missed, stips don’t add up, banks overturn an auto approval, bank calls are misread, and the wrong rebates get used. Like life, things go wrong and it’s moments like these that can break you “of” the car business — going to lunch and never coming back or setbacks like these can break you “into” a sales career by opening you up to new untapped levels of grit, perseverance, emotional maturity, and courage.

In a game, athletes not only play against opposing players, but they also must mentally manage against a shot clock-having to overcome mistakes, make adjustments, and move forward in mere seconds. One way to not let these causal moments consume you is to learn how to confine them with a shot clock mentality.

  • Shot clocks force action: Shot clocks keep the game moving. When your efforts become ditched, give yourself a brief reprieve to mentally pout, kick, and howl at the moon, then get back to being productive. How fast you’ll win again determines on how long you’re willing to sit in a loss.
  • Shot clocks keep the chatter to a minimum: In the ticking seconds, athletes have to absorb the setback, determine their next move, and take action. Going on and on about the woulda-coulda’s will only lead you to shoulda’ing all over your career. It may seem trivial, but speaking positive will help set your mental sails in the right direction. Looking for your next opportunity while griping about the last injustice will likely result in yet another defeat.
  • Shot clocks won’t stop to pick up the flag: I’ve never understood, when a foul is called why do some players argue with the ref? He’s not going to reverse the call. When things don’t go your way give the situation some space. Walk it off, go make some follow up phone calls, read something uplifting or productive, and find the next opportunity. Come back to your foul later after the emotions have died down. Clarity will help you find your answer-tempers will only intensify your excuses. Giving certain situations space will help you develop emotional maturity as well as sculpt the grit needed to reengage quicker, more productively.
  • Shot clocks compartmentalize the game: During the action, you have to make split second decisions, but the sidelined moments are reserved to make more radical adjustments. Sometimes you may need to take time out to have a mentor or manager help you make the necessary adjustments. Be open to these adjustments-don’t be so quick to defend what you did or didn’t do. Absorb the teachable moments and work them into your craft. All of us are competitive but the person you’re really competing against was who you were on that last deal. Making adjustments off-line will enable you to make better “in the moment” decisions.

The NFL has a 40 second play clock- the NBA 24 seconds. You only have 3…statistics say you’ll work at least 90,000 hours in your lifetime. Wrapped within those hours will be mistakes, failures, seemingly unfair decisions, and circumstances beyond your control-all coupled with jealous co-workers, horrible bosses, bad economies, and unappreciative customers. At the doorstep of these flagrances, you will have 3 seconds to determine if you will let these moments define you to a life of excuses, finger pointing, and just getting by or refine you into a person who, in spite of facing so much, was audacious enough to own the moment, get back up, and keep on climbing, searching for the (sales)person they were destined to be.

The clock starts now.

I’ll see you on the Blacktop!