One of the main reasons the USA Women's Soccer team was able to win the 2015 World Cup was because of the tremendous goalkeeping play by Hope Solo. Embedded in her name are two words that equate the meaning of success on different levels. And those meanings can also be applied to the world of sales and sales training. But regardless of your role, Hope Solo has some leadership lessons for us all.

(Hope) Solo

The word solo is used to describe something done without the help of another person, a fitting name for someone entrusted with guarding a large soccer goal all by themselves. Coincidentally, Hope Solo has her own share of solo success growing up. As a child, she was routinely without a father to guide her through a childhood of sports, hopes and dreams. She was actually conceived during a conjugal visit while her father was jailed for embezzlement.


Once out of prison, he was in and out of her life while participating in varying criminal exploits. He had run-ins with homelessness and despite never teaching Solo much about how to be a successful goalie, she never turned her back on him. As much success as Solo experienced on her own, she credited her father in her autobiography with helping to create the person she has become. It is a fitting reminder that no one can climb the highest mountains of success alone. Success is never a solo effort.

In the world of sales, even the most successful reps have to give credit to someone else. No one reaches the top without some kind of help. Sometimes, successful salespeople may not even realize who helped them along the way. 

Being around the right people, ones with positive attitudes and high ambitions, cannot help but have a contagious effect. Negative people not only bring down sales reps, but they can also wear down entire sales teams. Sales teams that feature the right people will make success much easier to achieve. 

Hope Solo may have not learned how to be an Olympic champion from her father, but she credited him for always providing her with love. That may have been enough to help propel her to super stardom. 

Successful sales teams do not always have to include the highest earners in the company. Selecting a team because each member has a positive attitude could fuel an entire team to success. The top salespeople on a team will benefit from the help of others, even if they are unaware of it. That means choosing sales teams needs to be done very carefully. Sales managers can benefit from listening not only to what their sales reps have to say, but how they say it. Managers should always be on the lookout for sales reps who show a positive attitude and continued effort. That can be the glue that make sales teams stick to success. 

Hope (Solo)

Every career starts out with a small hope for greatness. However, there are a lot of twists and turns on the path to success. Hope Solo did not get to her current lot in life without experiencing her share of adversity. It was by no means a smooth ride to becoming a World Cup champion and one of the most recognizable athletes in the country. 

Solo started out as a forward for Richland High School in Richland, Washington and went on to star at the University of Washington as a goalie. Following that, she joined the U.S. Women's Soccer team in 2000. Since then, there have been peaks and valleys throughout her career. 

Solo was an alternate on the 2004 Olympic team and never actually made it onto the field that year. She later earned a starting role but was suspended from Team USA in 2007 for public comments after a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the World Cup semifinal.  Solo was suspended because she stated that she would have made the necessary saves if she had not been benched for that match. It may have seemed like the wrong thing to say, but part of Solo's personality has always been to speak her mind. 

Solo found redemption after some other struggles in which she was cleared of using a banned substance and domestic violence charges. In the 2012 Olympics, Solo again did what she does best, stopping 12 of 13 shots on goal against Japan to help Team USA to its second straight gold medal. Most of us can only hope to achieve such lofty accomplishments while maintaining the belief that greatness is still within our reach. 

Solo's story is another way to show that there is never a smooth road to success, something that also rings true in the world of sales. Dealing with rejection is a common occurrence in sales. But it is important not to take that rejection personally. The key is to figure out why your prospects are not buying. Chances are it is because they do not like you, they do not trust you, or your product offers them no solution. Sales reps can figure out why prospects are saying 'Np' and adjust their pitches accordingly. 

Sales reps must also remember that there is always another game to play and there are always lessons to learn from losses. Look at the most successful sales rep in any company and you will see someone who has heard the word 'No' plenty of times. The trick is not letting that word becoming a stopping point. Instead, think of it as a pause.

After hearing the word 'No', pause and take the time to examine why that word was uttered. Perhaps you need to develop a new marketing campaign, reassess when it is time to close, increase your follow-up calls, or alter your presentation. No is not a negative word, it is a way of letting people know there is a better way to get things done. Sales reps looking to get better can only hope to hear the word 'No' every now and again.

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