Bo Jackson remains one of the most remarkable athletes of the 20th century as he excelled as both an NFL running back and Major League Baseball outfielder. However, there were a lot of unique twists and turns throughout his career. Looking back on his career, there is a lot sales reps can learn from what Bo didn't know.

Turning things around

Anyone who watched football or baseball through the 1980's and 90's was aware that Bo Jackson knew a lot of things. Jackson became not only a sports sensation, but he also became a media icon. Everybody knew Bo. But along that journey, there was a lot that Bo didn't know. For example, he didn't know that sports would be his salvation. 

Jackson was not always a beloved superstar. As a youth, he actually developed the reputation for being a troublemaker. He wound up costing his mother thousands of dollars as she was forced to pay for damages he caused by throwing rocks and getting into other mischief. 

Bigger and stronger than most kids his age, Jackson routinely beat up other neighborhood kids. In his autobiography, Jackson even admitted to paying other kids to beat up some neighborhood kids because he didn't have enough time to get around to all of them. At the age of 13, he was sent to a reform school where sports provided him with a way to turn his life around. 

Sales reps can also bounce back the same way Jackson did. When sales are suffering, there are ways to turn things around. Sales reps can start by going for some easy wins with some existing accounts. Closing even a small sale will provide a boost in confidence. It will also show sales managers signs of progress and create a sense of positivity, which could help tremendously with future sales.

There is also no shame in asking for a little help from a manager or asking a co-worker to provide some feedback. They may see parts of your approach or strategy that could use an upgrade. Don't shy away from constructive criticism as it can only help in the long run. 

The Myth

Jackson's speed was off the charts as evidenced by his performance in all different sports. However, his speed became legendary in 1986 when the NFL held its second annual Scouting Combine in New Orleans. However, there was no NFL Network to televise the event, no mass media gathering to watch each player perform and no real criteria for logging all the players' times. 

When it came time for Jackson to run the 40-yard dash, he ran fast. Exactly how fast? Reports began to surface about him running a 4.12, which could qualify him for the fastest human that ever lived. Other reports later stated that he ran a 4.22, still an extremely good time. However, there was no camera to catch the actual 40-yard dash. Some skeptics argued that Jackson was not even at the Combine. And so began the urban legend about Jackson and the fastest 40-yard dash time ever recorded by an NFL player. Jackson didn't actually know his 40-time, but it really didn't matter. That myth would become legendary. 

In the same breath, there are sales myths which may be interpreted differently. One of the more popular myths is that sales is all about numbers. But sales is more about people. Numbers are just a part of the process. Focusing on people will lead to better sales numbers. It is the relationships, conversations, effort and overall interaction that makes a successful sale not just the facts, figures and quotas.

Another sales myth is that price is the primary factor in a sale. However, prospects are not just going to make a purchase because a product or service is cheap. Think about the purchases you have made. Were all of them made because they were cheap? Probably not. So make sure to stress other parts of the sales process, such as providing a solution, handling objections and the call to action. 

An early ending

Jackson played eight seasons in the Major Leagues and finished with 141 home runs, although he only appeared in more than 100 games in four of those eight seasons. He also played four seasons in the NFL where he racked up 2,782 rushing yards in 38 games. The numbers may not be all-time records, but injury played a major role in his professional sports career. 

Jackson was nagged by injuries, although it was a rare hip injury on the football field that would force him into early retirement. He underwent a hip replacement, which ultimately ended his professional sports career. So if Jackson had not opted to play football along with baseball, he may have enjoyed a 20-year career in the majors. But there was no way of knowing that such a rare injury would occur on a freak play and end the career of the last great professional two-sport athlete.

In sales, there also parts of the game that are unknown. Sales reps do not know exactly who will become eventual clients or exactly when they will close a sale. That unknown is quite common. And how sales reps handle that unknown is important because if not handled properly, it can create a lot of stress.

Stressing about the unknown can make a sales rep's job unbearable. Sales reps should be focused on the sales process and not those unknowns. After all, Jackson did not play football with the worry of potentially getting hurt. It just happened.

The same goes in sales. If reps carry out the sales process accordingly, sales will just happen. Goals can remain the same and as long as a sales rep does not stress over the unknown, going to work every day could actually become rather enjoyable.

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