Note: This article was written well before the findings of Deflate Gate came out on May 6, 2015. Regardless, this article looks at Tom Brady and his use of video to improve his game.
What is Deflate Gate? Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are accused of deflating the footballs of air, because Tom Brady likes them less inflated because the football is easier to hold and he has more power when he throws the football.
The story of Tom Brady goes beyond just winning four Super Bowls. It also goes beyond his status as one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time. Brady's story started with humble beginnings as he truly earned his way to the top by using tools that can also be utilized in the game of sales.
Working your way up
Brady did not just waltz into the University of Michigan and take over the starting quarterback job in the late 1990's. When he arrived at Michigan as a freshman in 1996, there were six quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart. However, that is something he would not accept.
Brady not only spent extra time in the film room, but he also sought counsel from a psychologist and had weekly meetings with Michigan director of athletic counseling Greg Harden. Brady sought counsel from anyone who could help him, which helped him develop one of the greatest traits any player can have; coachability.
In sales, managers recruit coachable sales reps. It’s a quality that could push reps into the first round of a sales draft, if there ever was one. One way to detect coachability in a sales rep is in their questions. If they ask a lot of questions, it is a good sign that they are coachable.
Another way to recognize coachability is to gauge how a sales rep takes feedback. Do they become stressed, defensive or downtrodden when provided with constructive criticism? If so, then they probably are not too coachable. Sales reps who are coachable, much like Brady, always want to get better at what they do.
After two years as a starting quarterback at Michigan, Brady entered the 2000 NFL Draft. He did not test well at the NFL Scouting Combine and would go down as one of the slowest quarterbacks to ever perform at the event. He ran a 5.28 40-yard dash and struggled in the other Combine events.
The NFL Scouting Combine is meant to test players’ physical abilities and size them up. However, there was one thing that testing did not reveal and that was all of Brady’s intangibles. Weeks later in the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady was selected in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick by the New England Patriots. Six other quarterbacks were drafted ahead of Brady, all with better combine numbers. But none proved to have his intangibles.
Intangibles aren't unique to football players. Successful people have them in all different professions. Mental toughness, initiative, vision and a tireless work ethic are some of the intangibles that made Brady what he is today.
Sales reps who are destined for success demonstrate the intangible of working well within a team. They are also quick to take the blame when something does not work out as planned as that is actually a form of mental toughness on display.
Consistency and confidence are two other intangibles that go into an all-pro sales rep. These two intangibles will help foster effort from others while also driving results and behavior.
Brady did not get his chance to step in and start until his second season with the Patriots when former starter Drew Bledsoe went down with internal injuries. Bledsoe was injured on a sideline tackle known as ‘the hit that changed history.' Brady jumped into that starting role and never relinquished it.
Many people might tend to believe Brady got his chance because of that hit. But it was he did on the practice field that propelled him to super stardom. There were times, as a backup at both Michigan and New England, when he had only a limited amount of practice reps. With so few chances to prove himself, Brady strived for perfection on each throw and put in extra amounts of work, possessing a drive that was relentless.
Among sales reps, the ability to anticipate opportunities before they present themselves is a major factor in winning the sales game. Before leads even materialize, a star sales rep will be ready with a fully prepared sales pitch. If called in to replace a fellow team member, much like Brady did, a good sales rep will always be ready.
The customization of sales pitches also shows due diligence. The sales rep who makes first contact with a client is not always the one who closes the sale, but rather the sales rep who first contacts a client with a customized sales pitch.
When the game is on the line in the fourth quarter, Brady makes it no secret that he wants the football in his hands. Brady has engineered 35 fourth-quarter comebacks and 46 game-winning drives in his career. Part of that success is due to Brady’s belief that his team will not lose.
That is a rare quality found in athletes as certain players thrive in the face of pressure. Many players crumble under such a strain as the intensity of the moment gets the better of them. The same premise applies to closing a sale.
The ability to close is heightened when a sales rep detects when it's time to close. Always knowing when to close is a much better concept than ‘always be closing.’ And what that time comes, avoiding yes or no answers will also go a long way.
Sales reps who listen intently to their clients will be able to tell what those clients want. Giving too much information before getting their share of information is a common fumble among sales reps. Divulge everything in due time as not all deals are made within the first quarter of the sales game. It is all about who can engineer that late drive with success or failure on the line.