Josh Hamilton is known by most people for his exceptional ability to hit major league pitching with consistency. But there is more to the Texas Rangers outfielder than just home runs and extra-base hits. His life has involved a series of unique events that he's managed to turn into inspiration. Sales reps can learn quite a bit from Hamilton's up and down experiences.


Reaching a goal

Hamilton was a natural in every sport he played, even as a boy. On the football field, he was untouchable as a running back. On the basketball court, he was difficult to guard while using a left-handed dribble and quickness to his advantage. He also excelled on the track and on the soccer field. Then, there was baseball.

It was evident early on that Hamilton was an elite baseball player. Not only did he have exceptional bat speed, but his fastball was clocked at 96 mph. From the time he was a small boy, Hamilton made it known that his dream was to become the top pick in the Major League Baseball Draft. As a player at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, NC, Hamilton's team made approximately ten trips to Walt Disney World for various tournaments. All the while, Hamilton never visited the theme park. He was there for baseball and that is exactly what he focused on.

All that focus paid off as Hamilton realized his childhood dream by becoming the first overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft. He joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and signed a $3.96 million deal. Hamilton was well on his way to becoming one of Major League Baseball's greats.

Sales goals can be reached with a similar approach. And simply because a sales goal is set doesn't mean it does not have to be reiterated. Sales reps can review their sales goals every morning. That includes big-picture goals, weekly goals and daily goals. Hamilton rose to the ranks of an elite baseball player with constant repetition and sales reps can do the same. At the end of each week, it is also important to review your sales goals in order to gauge performance and figure out new goals for the upcoming week. 

Setting goals each week allows for a goal-driven performance, which can help with organization and time management throughout the week. It can also make for a more proactive sales rep as weekly goals become a top priority and necessitate action. 

The down times

After being the No.1 Draft pick, Hamilton spent the next couple of seasons in the minor leagues and was quickly becoming one of the best minor league players in the country. He was on the road, although his parents were right there with him. They toured the East Coast and attended virtually every one of his minor league games. They even followed directly behind the bus on road trips. 

Everything was pointing towards Hamilton winding up in the Major Leagues, until he and his parents were in a car accident right before the start of the 2001 season. His parents returned home with injuries and while Hamilton hurt his back, he was left alone to play Double A ball in Orlando. That is where he fell in with a group of unsavory individuals and began experimenting with drugs and alcohol for the first time in his life.

The downward spiral continued as Hamilton's performance on the field suffered. He was shipped off to different teams until he found himself out of baseball by 2004, just five years after he was the No.1 pick in the MLB Draft. 

In the sales world, not every day is going to include the closing of a big deal nor will it showcase new prospects walking through the door. It is inevitable that there are going to be slow periods. However, it is important to stay motivated even when sales are their slowest. This is always a good time to seek out additional training. It's also an opportune time to identify any market changes and seek out what the top competitors are doing to succeed. Sometimes, there is much to be learned from the competition, both good and bad. 

Rising from the ashes

Hamilton's battle with drugs, which included crack-cocaine, continued for the next couple of years. He was not able to turn a corner until he found The Winning Inning, a Florida baseball academy that combined Christianity with the sport. He worked there cleaning the fields, restrooms and slept on an air-mattress inside a vacant office. His money was all gone and he'd not been on a baseball team for three years. He began coaching at The Winning Inning and when he picked up a bat, he still had a major league swing. 

Clean and sober, Hamilton was allowed back into the minors almost a year after hooking up with The Winning Inning. He would go on to make the Cincinnati Reds team in 2007 and moved on the next year to the Texas Rangers. His performance eventually equaled his high level of talent, but it wasn't the home runs and RBIs that were most inspiring. It was the way Hamilton was able to pull himself from rock bottom and fight his way to the top of Major League Baseball. 

Sales reps can learn a lot from Hamilton's rise to prominence. Successful sales reps are not always going to hear the word yes. In fact, all sales reps are going to hear their share of the word no. But sales reps should not shudder when they hear the word no, but embrace it instead. The more times sales reps hear the word no, the more they will have no fear when it comes time for new sales calls or meetings. The word no cannot hurt a sales rep, but it can make them more successful.

Sales reps should get used to hearing the word no, because it will happen. Sales training does not teach reps to fail, although failing in sales is an inevitability. Ultimately, sales reps are defined by what they do after hearing the word no for the hundredth time. Do they respond like Hamilton and seek out redemption or do they remain subjugated by failure?

Hamilton was told by many people that his baseball career was over before it started, but he didn't listen. Successful sales reps can take a page from his book and dismiss the word no as nothing more than a foul ball.  

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