I have been a New England Patriots fan ever since I can remember. (If you are currently an “anyone but the Pats fan,” I wish you luck.)
My earliest childhood memories were watching the games with my family, and no matter what, cheering for the Pats. To say they were the underdog in those early years is an understatement.
When they made it to the ‘85 Super Bowl, it was a bigger than Christmas, and at 9 years old Christmas was still a big deal. When they lost, I cried on the way home sitting on the hub in the middle of my uncle’s truck. No one spoke, except for the random, “F’ing Pats”.
Yet every year, when camp starts and pre-season comes, we can’t wait for the season to begin. I remember sitting on the living room floor and watching the 2002 Super Bowl when someone asked me why I loved watching it so much. “It’s like watching a live chess game with incredible athletes.” I was fascinated by the interactions between the players, coaches and fans. What play will they pick? What defense are they showing? Can they hear the QB if the fans are too loud?
What Tom Brady and Top Salespeople Have in Common
Knowing all this, it can’t be a surprise that I joined the Official Tom Brady Facebook group and have been watching the Tom vs Time Episodes. I’ve watched Episode 2 at least three times now because he talks about the mental game. In almost every minute of the 15 minute episode, I saw the similarities top salespeople that I have been lucky enough to work with have. Here are my top ones:
- Know your strength and weaknesses.
As Tom put it, “work on what you are not good at, focus on strengths that are inherent to who [you] are.” If feedback is the breakfast of champions, then objective feedback is the celebration dinner of the elite. Knowing is just the first step, working on each one specifically is what creates true champions.
- Be open to changing those things.
“Work hard and get coached.” I think I heard that Brady has 9 coaches, each likely for a specific aspect of improvement. He also has a love for the game and is motivated to continue to win, which is what makes him more open to change. Top salespeople don't rely on what they have always done, but are constantly looking for things and ways to get better.
- Pay attention to the details in the mechanics.
Who knows how long Brady practiced one throw over and over again to get the swing of a hip right, or the right distance placement with his arm. “So that when [you are] in a meaningful game, does it go exactly where [you] wanna go?” Top salespeople pay attention to the smallest details in their interactions with buyers and practice them so that they can get the best possible outcome.
- Practice with a coach.
“This is right between what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been trying to do.” A coach can see which behaviors cause which outcomes, partly because they aren’t emotionally attached to it. Coaches can also push you for perfection in the smallest details while keeping you focused on your ultimate goal.
- Prepare at the highest level.
“If you want to perform at the highest level, you have to prepare at the highest level- mentally.” Brady watches so much game tape so that he can “watch for the tells” and see how “technique has changed and realize how little you knew.” He collaborates with his coaches on specific pieces of tape to debrief what happened and strategize how to practice it. Top salespeople record their calls and listen to them, analyzing each piece and collaborates with leadership and other team members on it. Then they practice it, over and over.
- Mental toughness.
Failing in front of everyone is like “the talent show you lost”. As Brady watched the infamous Super Bowl loss, you can see it’s still painful. Yet he praises the work of his teammates. When asked why he puts himself through watching it, he replies, “Still a lot to learn.” The best salespeople take responsibility for every outcome, they don't brush bad outcomes aside- they face them straight on. They don't place blame, or make excuses. They learn from every mistake, every missed opportunity. Instead of wallowing in failure, they can celebrate the successes of their teammates, even when they are at their lowest. That takes mental toughness and desire to always be learning.
- It’s in the application.
As much as Brady trains, practices, and prepares, he still says; “It’s one thing to analyze data and then it’s another to apply it….You work hard in training- but you really don’t know what you are. You’ve created this hypothesis of what you think you are or may be, and then you go test it out for 4 weeks.” Learn, try, test, repeat.
What is your Super Bowl goal? Maybe you are the bottom of the draft now, but with the right coach and a meaningful enough goal, could you be a #GOAT too?