Don’t you love that moment when friends, new acquaintances at a dinner, or someone on the sideline of your kid’s soccer game finds out you’re in sales? Responses vary greatly, especially if the responder has never sold anything (or doesn’t have a close connection in their life who has). Some of the ‘fun’ responses include comments like, ‘Oh, is it tough to prostitute yourself for a product?’ or “Wow, I’d love to play golf and attend three-martini lunches for a living.”
While some people ridiculously compare sales to being a prostitute (pretty sure my wife and kids wouldn’t approve) or some kind of Mad Men character (let’s face it, those guys were pretty much prostitutes too) there is one career that never comes up. Yet, if forced to pick, I believe the profession that salespeople should most relate to is not street worker or advertising mogul, but rockstar. That’s right–I’m talking Patti Smith, David Bowie, and Lenny Kravitz. When you think about it, being a salesperson has more in common with being a rockstar than you think. And knowing that, it’s important that salespeople emulate the right rockstars, and aspire to a Lifetime Achievement Grammy For Sales Success- instead of dying young after a few tours and a couple incentive trips. Not convinced? Read on!
How Being in Sales is Like Being a Rockstar
Dedication to the craft. True rock stars spend countless hours in rehearsal, honing their craft, connecting with their listening audience, reaching down into their hearts, and channeling some of the deepest human emotions to make a difference in people’s lives...sound familiar?
That’s right! Looking at the above, true sales professionals are quite similar. We’re always looking for opportunities to refine and improve, whether it’s creating a killer presentation or refining our demo scripts. Like rock stars who spend plenty of time in the studio refining song parts and production nuances, as salespeople, we are continually working honing our craft to form a strong connection with our prospects and clients. Sales, like music, has the ability to inspire. Think about the first song you ever loved as a kid –for me it was “Yesterday” by the Beatles in the back of my parents Buick station wagon. Just like a rockstar, a great salesperson connects to you and speaks those unspoken problems and pains you couldn’t quite put into words until now. And yes, I do ‘believe in yesterday’.
“At home, I'm not a rock star. I wear dad-appropriate attire. I drive a truck. And we go out to the mountains to light fires and have barbecues.”
Brandon Flowers, Lead Singer of The Killers
The importance of relationships. The words “healthy” and “rock star” wouldn’t have existed in the same sentence until the last decade. But when you look at a rockstar like Sting (yes, I know many of you ladies – and some men – “do” look at Sting), he could be the poster child for true rock ‘n’ roll success. And, what do we know about him? Well, it’s common knowledge that due to regular extended yoga sessions, our long-time Police star is in great shape. And it’s not just in his wellness rituals where Sting’s relationships have longevity. Sting has been married to Trudie Styler for nearly 25 years–not exactly stereotypical rockstar behavior. Sting has been quoted as saying, ‘She lights up my world when she enters a room… she’s my connection to the sacred.” Say it with me-awwww. There’s no doubt Sting’s strong marriage contributed to his long and healthy career, helping him avoid the fate of many of his more tragic peers.
Just like Sting, the best salespeople I know eat clean, exercise, and understand moderation and balance in many things. They realize the importance of healthy relationships in their lives, whether that’s keeping a date night with their spouse or making sure to attend their kids big game or presentation at school. Like Sting, they know when to step away from the email or skip the networking event. They realize that work will always be there, and that their life is fueled by who they are as a complete, balanced person with a life of their own.
Nutrition. Just like people stereotype sales, the stereotype of all rockstars living on a diet of cocaine and magnums of champagne is not true–at least not completely. Notable vegeterarian rockstars include Joan Jett, Lenny Kravitz (have you seen his abs!), and Dave Matthews. Usher states the obvious, (but it bears repeating), “If you take care of your body, it’ll take care of you”. Have you ever been in a room presenting to a group of people who are peppering you with questions, and realized you weren’t on you're A-Game? No food, bad food, lack of sleep… all those things put us at a disadvantage. For the best results, we need to fuel our machines to achieve our goals for the short and long term. We all want to be strutting on a stage when we’re 70, a la Mick Jagger in the 2005 Superbowl.
“You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon
Believing in a higher power. Not to get all AA on you, but self-care for the rockstar salesperson definitely includes a spiritual or mindfulness element. Many rockers engage in yoga to scratch their spiritual itch. Adam Levine, Ziggy Marley, Madonna and many other rockers get their “OM” on. Beyonce prays for an hour before going onstage, Coldplay hugs it out before every gig.
Like rockstars, salespeople can also risk burnout from the physical and emotional wear and tear of sales, and having a mental way to replenish their soul and spirit is key. Whether it’s meditating, attending church, or simply doing a gratitude practice each morning, a rockstar salesperson keeps their mental game strong and serene.
Rest, rest, rest. There are so many articles about the benefits of getting enough rest, from cognitive results and recovery times, to potential reductions in memory loss and even connections to reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s.
Like rockstars, salespeople need to be on, on, on! To be credible, trustworthy, and persuasive, we need to charge the room with positive energy, or even–wait for it–stage presence. When we enter into a sales conversation and attempt to match the energy of our prospect, it doesn’t work when we’ve burned the candle at both ends too many nights in a row. We need to manage our energy so we can “own the stage” in our own brand of performance.
Exercise: Where to start? Any of the names listed above have regimens that optimize their health. There’s Mick Jagger with his famous 8 miles of running per day (except for concert days when he’s estimated to dance, strut and do some serious ‘Jumping’ Jack Flash to the tune of approximately 12 miles per show). Fun fact: In addition to low impact exercise 4 or 5 days per week, Paul McCartney stands on his head for 5 minutes daily while doing split movements with his legs overhead – he’s done that for the last 50 years!
Get high on life. Lenny Kravitz doesn’t get drunk; McCartney stopped getting high; Springsteen’s stayed away from drugs his entire career because he saw family member’s addictions and it helps him keep his depression at bay. What do these people have in common? They’ve had incredibly long careers in a flash-in-the-pan industry.
There comes a time when we all realize, there’s a chance I may actually live to a ‘ripe old age’. Because of the flexibility and social nature in a sales career, there are many opportunities to get your drink on, or take mini-vacations with legal and/or illicit drugs of choice. The true rock stars either stay sober or indulge in moderation (more the latter quite often) This ensures they live to sell or perform not just another day, but many more days, and years! Cheers to that.
A flexible lifestyle and time to rock. In sales, we have access to considerable material comforts. You may not travel with a guru, chef, personal trainer or masseuse, but you have the flexibility of lifestyle, earning potential, and creature comforts. Yes, you have activities to complete, quotas to meet, and calls to make. Yet, much like a rockstar juggling a busy tour schedule, salespeople can still squeeze in their own time-whether it means late nights to catch up on your latest campaign, stepping away during the day to re-energize at the gym or support a family member… you, like a rock star, have the flexibility to do all these things and more.
"Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life."
Remember, whatever you’re seeking in the life you’ve chosen, for you to be a true rock star, it all starts by focusing on yourself. So, choose your best nourishment, rest well, and take care of your body, mind and spirit because that’s where your world starts. If you need a reminder that it’s you who chooses to rock, put a bowl of green M&M’s (or an electric guitar) by your desk.
Steve Mason is a TRUE “Rock Star” in the sales world as a sales leader at Mood Media. He can also certainly be seen performing mainly on the West Coast as a singer/songwriter and in Stevens Rocket (www.stevensrocket.com). He also fulfills the unique and extremely rewarding role of Motivational Singer℠ using the lessons learned in the music business to empower salespeople and other superhumans through keynotes, teambuilding, and custom compositions utilizing the unique power of music. www.motivationalsinger.com
Steve resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and 3 kids, (well, one of them is actually living a rock star life in Germany currently). Steve’s favorite way of channeling his inner rock star is through regular Qi Gong practice, great nutrition, (mostly wheat-free, minimum of processed sugar and pescatarian), and attempts at getting 7 hours of sleep per night - a work in progress! One of Steve’s rock star goals is to be belting it out like Paul McCartney in his 70’s and beyond.