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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Selling


Can You Sell Under Pressure?

What World-Class Athletes Can Teach Us About Peak Performance in Sales

Bill Cole, MS, MA

What's the most pressurized selling situation you have ever found yourself in? How well did you perform?

Now picture that same selling scenario, while being watched live by thousands of people, with your every move scrutinized by the worldwide media, and with armed bodyguards protecting you from a very real, and potentially imminent death threat. How would you perform now?

That's what I experienced as I travelled to Austria as the sport psychologist for the Israeli Davis Cup Team for round one of the men's international tennis competition, high in the Tyrol Alps. The terrorist group Hamas had just declared all-out war on Israel, and for three coaches, an MD, two officials and six players, we had 35 heavily-armed guards shadowing our every move. Protecting us were Austrian Police, Israeli Secret Service and a crack squad of the Austrian Counter-Terrorism Swat Team. It was the most security-laden Davis Cup match in history. We felt pretty secure, but also apprehensive.

What does that have to do with your selling? Plenty, and here's how.

These young tennis professionals had to deal with all those distractions and tremendous pressure, and still perform to their potential. What's more, they had the added pressure of playing for their team and for their country. They had to prepare mentally, focus well and execute with excellence, the same way you have to every day in the selling game. The parallels are exactly the same. In tennis you either win or you lose. In selling you either hit paydirt or you walk away empty-handed. What's the common secret? Having a strong mental game.

Get ready to improve your mental game of selling, right now.

Five Mental Strategies To Help You Achieve Peak Performance In Your Selling

Here are the peak performance strategies I teach to both top pro athletes and high-achieving sales professionals.

1. Think Like A Winner. Master your mind. Control your thoughts. Think only positive thoughts. Don't allow thoughts of failure into your head. Maintain mental discipline. Imagine winning from every possible angle. Winning starts in your mind--remember that your mind is always in your complete control.

2. Keep Your Mind In The Present. Winners maintain mental focus in the present. The here and now is where you perform, not the regrets of the past or the uncertainty of the future. Focus on what you are doing, when you do it. Stop the fears and scattered focus by concentrating on the task right in front of you, at that very moment.

3. Realize You Can Only Control The Controllables. Successful people are aware of the things they can control. They focus on those, and let go of the rest. Trying to affect uncontrollable factors is an exercise in frustration, and a set-up to failure. Winners narrow their efforts only to what will help them win.

4. Focus on Process, Not Product. Achievers want to succeed big, but they keep their eye on the journey, not the goal. Having objectives is helpful, but when you execute, stay focused on the process that will get you to the winner's circle. Failed performers focus on the prize while they compete, and they lose. If you take care of the process, you will automatically achieve a natural outcome of success.

5. Stay Relaxed Mentally And Physically. Relaxation is one of the strongest keys to unlocking the doors to the peak performance zone. You can't reach your performance potential while you are straining and bound up with frustration and tension. Enjoy yourself and get into the exciting flow of the moment. Be playful and allow yourself to trust the process.

Play the selling game like a world-class professional. The secret? Winning begins in your mind. Start winning right now.

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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