If Andre Agassi was in Sales, Would He be Ranked #1?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 06, 2011 @ 13:09 PM

Andre agassiAndre Agassi's autobiography, Open,  was a great book!  I kept wondering what it would have been like if Agassi was in sales instead of tennis.  Would he have been the best salesperson in the world?  Would he have won all the biggest deals?  Would he have earned as much money?  So I thought about the areas that would have supported a quest for #1 salesperson, as well as those that would have thwarted the effort.


As a young boy, Agassi hit 2,500 tennis balls a day; 17,500 each week; nearly 1 million practice shots per year - and didn't even like tennis!  If you practiced just 1 1000th of that amount - 2 to 3 role-plays per day - how much more effective would your selling game be?

As he matured, he disovered that his shot making or skills alone weren't going to help him win the tough matches.  To beat those tough opponents, he discovered that his Desire - how badly he wanted it - and Commitment - his willingness to do what it took to win each point - were more important.  We see the same with salespeople - the will (Desire and Commitment) is more important than the skills.

Over time, he learned that to beat the best players he didn't need to attempt high risk shots while trying to be perfect (make the perfect presentation and hope for the best).  Instead, he learned to wear out his opponents by making them run and simply outlasting them (Consultative Selling - taking your time and asking lots of questions, studying your opponent and knowing what they are going to do before they do it).  That's when he was at his best!  

For many of Agassi's first 10 years or so he lacked confidence, played not to lose and choked when his back was against the wall.  When he was confident of the outcome just prior to the match, played to win, and got tougher under pressure, he either won the match or was able to hold his head high in defeat.  How many salespeople manage their sales cycles, afraid of saying or doing anything that might cost them the sale?


Agassi was easily distracted and when he wasn't focused on tennis, an opponent, or even a point, he was easily defeated.  In the book he made many references to Pete Sampras, who often beat him in the finals, and how Pete was always focused completely on tennis.  Salespeople tend to be more like Agassi than Sampras but would find much more success if they made sales their life's work rather than their job.

By the time he met and later married Brook Shields, he had become complacent.  He stopped working out, eating right, practicing and focusing and that laziness dropped his ranking from #1 to #144 (salespeople become complacent at the drop of a hat). After he and Shields split he rededicated himself to tennis, and his practice regiments, reversed the slide and regained the #1 spot - the oldest man to do so.  This says a lot about the negative impact of complacency and the positive effect of dedication!

By far, the hardest part of selling is controlling the little, and sometimes big voice in your head.  Agassi's voice was big and it was very negative. Those demons (he liked burning things!) were constantly getting him to do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, rebel, defy and sabotage his game.  When he had the demons under control, everything was under control.  The same goes for salespeople. Objective Management Group has assessed more then 500,000 salespeople and the data indicates that 84% of those salespeople have self-limiting beliefs (negative self talk), some much worse than others, that interfere with sound selling practices.

We know Andre Agassi wouldn't earn $40 million a year at selling, and he may not have been able to meet, never mind date his two superstar wives (Brooke Shields and Steffi Graf).  But would he make a good salesperson?

Weigh in with a comment?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, tennis, sales best practices, winning in sales, andre agassi, steffi graf, pete sampras, brooke shields

Winning in Sales Isn't Everything - Yes it Is!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 17:11 PM

Sales Manager:  How did the call go?

Salesperson: Really good.

Sales Manager: Excellent.

Isn't that a lame discussion?  The sales manager can improve it by simply asking, "What made it such an excellent call?"

The salesperson might respond with, "They were willing to talk, they seemed to like me and they said they'd be happy to speak with me again."

Depending on where we are in the sales cycle, our response to that salesperson's answer should be:

Attempting to schedule a first meeting: Unacceptable

Moving from Suspect to Prospect: Uncacceptable.

Moving from Prospect to Qualified: Unacceptable.

Moving from Qualified to Closable: Unacceptable.

Moving from Closable to Closed: Unacceptable.

There must be a win, characterized by meeting defined criteria, not feelings, before one can say a call of any kind was excellent.  Yet that hypothetical sales conversation takes place in most offices of most companies on most days.  Sales managers should be asking things like, Why were they willing to talk?  Why will they talk with you again?  What can you help them with?  What are they hoping you can do?  Why would they want to do business with us? Why didn't you [insert next desired step here], etc.

Speaking of winning, Top Sales World will present awards to the winners in 11 categories in the first annual Top Sales Awards on December 16.  Jonathan Farrington, CEO of Top Sales World and Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power will be the hosts.

You can see the categories here.

My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, has been nominated for the Top Sales Blog but I was busy celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying some much needed time away and failed to let people know to vote for it.  So, now I'm a week behind and I need your help to generate enough votes to come from behind,  take over the lead and win this thing.  But you'll have to help!  To vote for this Blog as the Top Sales Blog of the Year, click here - but only if you think it is worthy.  I don't want votes out of obligation or friendship...or do I?  Sure - I'll take all the votes I can get.  You can even ask that miserable brother-in-law that you had to spend Thanksgiving with vote!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, Top Sales Awards, top sales blog, winning in sales, Top Sales World

Content not found
Subscribe via Email

View All 1,850 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile


Receive new articles via email
 to the Blog on your Kindle 



Most Recent Articles


Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee




Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers


Hubspot Top 25 Blogs



Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader