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The Will to Win: A Closer Look

The legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson said that he didn’t really understand the will to win until he saw Michael Jordan win the “flu-game” on the way to the Bull’s fifth NBA championship in 1997.

I have also seen the will to win play out with the salespeople that I have trained over the years. When we hire salespeople, we use a highly predictive assessment to help us understand if they have the right combination of strengths, weaknesses and other characteristics to make it within our industry and selling system.

As you might imagine, there is a range of acceptable assessment scores and deciding on hiring the right salesperson depends on a certain intuition on the part of the recruiter who is evaluating the three interviews we conduct, looking carefully at the resume, appraising the reference checks and so on. There’s a certain art as well as a science to this!

Now, even after all that careful vetting the one factor that trumps everything is the will to win. This is usually demonstrated by new sales reps that fully buy-in to their training. They don’t waste a second questioning the methodology, wondering if this will work, if the trainer knows what they are talking about and so on. They trust the process and therefore free up all of their attention and energy focusing on learning what they need to learn. They are usually champing at the bit to get out into the field to start using what they have learned.

I recently started training two salespeople for a new client. One had great assessment scores, the other more average. One tore through his training with total commitment and focus and the other struggled. One set four At the Desk Meetings in his first week of prospecting and one quit before the training was completed.

Which one is taking off like an F-16? The one with the average assessment scores but an amazing will to win. In fact, he showed me something more important than the will to win which is best exemplified by a quote by the famous college football coach “Bear” Bryant who said, “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

This rep, who is off to an amazing start, has the will to win and perhaps more importantly, the will to prepare to win!

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