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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Selling


What Makes Tiger Tick?

What Golf Superstar Tiger Woods Can Teach Sales Professionals About Winning

Bill Cole, MS, MA

Is Tiger Woods the greatest golfer who ever lived?

Jack Nicklaus might think so. Nicklaus, a living legend himself, has said as much about Tiger, "He's playing a game I'm not familiar with."

Tiger won the US Open as he was watched by over 9 million homes. He's now won seven of the past eleven majors in golf.

One thing's for sure. Tiger Woods' mental game is absolutely the very best on the pro golf tour. Here's what sales professionals can learn from a mental master like Tiger.

1. Tiger Sets Very High Personal Standards And Holds Himself Accountable.

Many tour pros set goals of trying to win a certain number of events per year. Some set a goal of winning a particular event. Tiger sets a goal of trying to win every event he enters. He truly believes he has a chance to win each time he steps out to play. When he falls short of a personal goal or objective, Tiger blames no one or anything other than himself. He takes full responsibility for his successes or failures.

As a sales professional you can set exciting, engaging goals that create interest and logical, step-by-step objectives that take you there. Take personal responsibility for everything in your selling. You can make the commitment to practice a sales skill or presentation until you get it, and the commitment that you will strive to succeed in every sales transaction.

2. Tiger's Major Mental Tool Is His Unrelenting Mental Discipline.

Tiger knows how to focus his mind on command. He does this in practice and that here-and-now skill carries over to competition. He intuitively sees how demanding continually sharp focus relates directly to performance. He maintains personal rituals before playing and practicing, and before each shot he takes. He uses these routines as triggers to explode his energies and focus onto what he is about to do.

Sales professionals can use rituals before telephoning and presentations. You can pride yourself on getting over errors quickly and getting your mind back on task. You can notice when your mind begins to wander and bring it back to the present.

3. Tiger Builds His Confidence By Endless And Intense Practice.

Tiger knows that practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Tiger uses the "over-kill method" when practicing. He repeats perfect swings until he burns them into his mind and body. Then, even under the most intense tournament pressure, those swings hold up. That's how confidence is built, one practice swing at a time.

As a sales professional you can realize the critical connection between what you are doing in practice, with sales performance in front of a client. The two are directly linked. You won't allow sloppy practice, lackadaisical mental discipline or random, aimless training. You realize that you practice the way you perform.

4. Tiger Does NOT Keep His Eye On The Goal.

Instead, He Focuses On The Process. It is a myth that, in a competition, great athletes focus on the goal of winning. To be sure, winning is a goal, but it is a given. No focus need go onto that goal. What excellent performers focus on is process. Tiger is superb at keeping his mind in the here and now. As he does that, with his well-honed practice habits underneath everything, he allows the golf process to unfold in the moment.

Sales professionals need to be incredibly outcome-oriented. But forget about thinking about winning and focus on the things you can do that will take you closer to that goal. Do enough of those things with excellence and you will win more often.

Manage your mental game like Tiger Woods and soon you'll be reaching more of your selling potential.

To learn more about how sales coaching can help you become a better, more confident sales professional, visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™ at

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 66-item sales skills assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game of selling.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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