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From Hero to Zero, Dallas Cowboys and the Sales Cycle

Orlando Scandrick at the Dallas Cowboys training camp in 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sales, like football, is a psychological exercise.  The term “Hero to Zero” is used in many sales rooms at the beginning of the month.  As the sales manager wipes all the units sold on the board off from the previous month and writes the new month’s name at the top he will say “everyone who was a hero last month is a zero this month”.  That is not just a catchy phrase.  And it does not only apply to the month.

Look at the roller coaster that was the Dallas Cowboys 2014 season.  Almost every other week there was a challenge that threatened the season.  From that first loss to the 49e’s to Romo’s injury to the sorry play by the entire team on thanksgiving nothing was ever a gimme.  Through it all the team went from hero to zero each week.  They went to work and no matter how bad the previous game was, they came to play their hardest at the next one.

Even from play to play each guy has to have a very short memory.  He might completely screw up the last play, but he has the potential to make the game changing play on the next snap.  We salespeople need to think that way too.

In one Cowboys game this season our corner back, Orlando Scandrick,

totally whiffed on a ball and let the receiver he was covering make a huge touchdown.  It was a really bad play and could have cost us the ballgame.

As the offence took the field to try to answer the previous drive, the camera showed the Cowboys sideline and there was Scandrick screaming at the defensive line trying to motivate them.  I thought “the nerve of that guy… he just screwed the pooch and he has the gall to yell at his teammates?”.  If it were me I would be sitting quietly in the corner hanging my head in shame.

The offence did their part and then the defense, with Scandrick, took the field for the next drive.  It was the final drive of the game.  If the defense did not stop them then the game was lost because of that bad play by our corner back.  Scandrick, who I thought should be in a shame spiral by now, was motivated instead.  I watched with incredulity as he used the previous screw up to his advantage.  He was aggressive, he was fired up, he was running all over the place trying to make a difference.  I was mesmerized.

His tenacity paid off… he intercepted a would-be game winning touchdown pass in the end zone and won the game.

That is when the term “hero to zero” finally made sense to me.  It works both ways; hero to zero and zero to hero.  Even though you might have made the biggest sale of the year, it is just one sale (hero to zero).  In the same way if you have a horrible sales call and can’t close a drawer much less a deal, it is temporary (zero to hero).  You have to forget about it and do it all again.  Each call you make, each appointment you run, each person you meet, is another chance to be a hero.  If you are in a slump then it is just in your head.

What do you think?  Think Scandrick is a hack?  Do you think I am?  Let me know in the comments below, I would love to tell you why you are wrong.

What I learned about Sales by watching the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season has been a wonderful surprise for all Cowboys fans.  We have trudged through years of rooting for a team that is the very definition of mediocre.  But that all changed this season.  Though it was never a sure thing.

We watched the first game play out with dread, thinking that it was going to be another looooonnnnggg season.  Then there were a few rays of hope.  We won the next couple against other mediocre teams… and then we beat the Saints.  Everyone in Cowboys Nation thought it must be a fluke. The Saints were good. Top tier even (at the time at least).  We should not have won that game… should we?

It was similar to going to that appointment that you didnt think would even show up.  Not only do they show, but they close right there at the first appointment.  You think, it was just a fluke… those situations are so rare, it’s not something to expect, right?

Even though the Cowboys were 4 and 1, there was simply no way we were going to win against the reigning superbowl champs.  Especially in their notoriously loud and hard to play in home field.  But lo and behold, our beloved though much maligned Cowboys stepped up and beat the friggin’ TAR out of the Seahawks, and in their own stadium no less.

It wasnt a fluke!  We were cautiously excited… we had been let down before.  It’s just like when you get two of those rare deals that are easy to close back to back.  You start thinking that maybe you are just that good.  That maybe every deal is going to be that easy from now on.

Then Romo got hurt in a loss to the lowly Redskins.  To add insult to injury (literally) they are one of our most hated division rivals.  Another loss to the very good Cardinals and we collectively resolved to watch another disappointing season.  Then the Giants, another hated rival was beaten and we were up again… maybe, just maybe, we could make the playoffs.

Kindof like that slump you go through in sales every now and again.  Nothing is working, every deal is hard to close and takes a ton of follow up.  Lots of disappointments and few successes.  You get a deal every now and again, but they are all hard to come by and you are working far harder than you were before to get less money.

Back to the Cowboys, we all started doing math… how many wins will it take to get the wildcard spot.  We probably wouldn’t win the Division – the Eagles were charging ahead and playing very well.  But surely we would get the wildcard spot… right?  Definitely- we just had to beat the Eagles on Thanksgiving.  It was going to be the game that would make or break the season.

Full of turkey and dressing we all gathered around the TV to watch with baited breath.  it was going to be a tough game, but we all knew our ‘Boys would give it all they had.  Three hours later we were sick to our collective stomachs.  The indigestion was not from overeating, it was from the sorry sad lackluster play of our team.  The Eagles beat us badly – it was a total route.  The season was over.  Only one game would be played against the Bears before we got trounced by the Eagles a second time.  The math was looking bad too.  Even with a 10-6 record we might not make the playoffs, even as a wildcard.

Now this is similar to when that slump turns into a full on drought.  Nothing closes, even setting appointments is difficult much less closing them.  No sales, no prospects, no money… no anything.  Its bad when things get like this.  You start to wonder if a regular job wouldn’t just be easier.

The Cowboys beat the Bears pretty easily as we knew we would, but the Eagles game at Cowboys Stadium would be hard to watch.  We did watch though… we always do.  Much to our surprise we won!  We could win the division!  It would take a lot of work, the wildcard was probably out because the NFC is crazy this season. So we had to shoot for the division championship or go home.

Then Christmas came early.

The Eagles got p’wned by the Redskins.  The Redskins!  All we had to do to win the division was win our next game.  Problem was the next game was against the Colts.  The Indianapolis friggin’ Colts.  Even though they had the same record, they were a better team.  It was gonna be tough.  We Cowboys fans figured we would loose that game, but win against the Redskins and then we would watch to see if the division would be ours.  We surely would not clench or even control our own destiny.

Everyone knows how that game turned out.  The mighty Colts came to Dallas and got their rear end’s handed to them.  We clinched the division.  It was such a shock that many are still talking about how good the Cowboys have been this season.

So how does that relate to sales?

Check back next week for the conclusion… From Hero to Zero, Dallas Cowboys and the Sales Cycle.  In the mean time, tell me what you think.

Are the Cowboys a fluke?  Does all this smack of psycho-babble?  Tell me in the comments below.  I would love to tell you why you are wrong!