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Jan. 25, 2022

96: Mikaela Shiffrin. 1 thing B2B sellers can learn from the greatest skier of all time*

We can all learn from Mikaela Shiffrin, one of the greatest skiers of all time. 

Mikaela had a pretty good season in 2018.  But despite winning gold and silver at the Winter Olympics many were disappointed in her performance in PyeongChang, including herself.

While reflecting that summer she realized she made one big mistake and rectified it for the following season.  The result?  2019 was the single most dominant season by a skier (male or female) of all time. 

What she realized and the change she made is relevant for b2b salespeople.  Find out more in this episode.

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Welcome to the sales Bluebird podcast, where we believe that it's plain wrong. That sales teams at startups don't get the help to succeed like sales teams do. They're bigger and more well-known competitors. If you're a seller or a sales leader at a B2B startup, especially if it's a cybersecurity company. You're in the right place today. I am your host, Andrew Monahan. And welcome to episode 96 of the podcast is a beautiful blue sky day here in Colorado. Uh, recording this towards the end of January, 2022. Just thinking about a good weekend with a family busy week last week, and we're in sales kickoff times. So there's kickoffs happening and, uh, enjoying being part of some of those. But, uh, the thought for today, I was thinking we have the Olympics coming up, winter Olympics coming up in a couple of weeks time. I think it is in China. And I want to cast our mind back to January, 2000 of 18, right before the last winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea. At that time Makilah Shiffrin was on top of the skiing world. She was on track for greatness and, you know, she still is, frankly, she's just charging ahead and breaking records. It seems like every season, but at the time, you know, this was four years ago. She was 22 years. Uh, she's had two or three good seasons. She was racking up the wins. Clearly. She was someone that was doing really well in her sport, but in the run-up to January, 2018, she had a great run. She won eight over nine races on the world cup. Eight out of nine, that's a heck of a streak right there. So she was going into the Olympics, which were in February of 2018 on a streak. Right. Lot of hype around her, how she was going to dominate when gold medals, um, it was going to be quite the success for McKayla and obviously for the U S who she was representing. Um, actually the Olympics, you know, three or four weeks later, she left with a gold and silver. Don't get me wrong. Gold and silver, uh, pretty incredible result. Right? The feeling though when pundits and the price in the, in the skiing industry was that she underperformed and frankly, by her own admission, she underperformed her own high expectations. She's underperformed as well. So she went to this big. Uh, that she thought she was going to do well at, I don't know what the right target was or what her target was, but maybe it was two or three goals rather than one goal to one silver. Um, and in fact, our most dominant, uh, skill or most dominant race that she takes part in as a slalom, she came forth. Right. And that was, that was really unexpected for her at the end of the season. She reflected back. You know, a ski season, believe it or not actually goes on for all, but two or three months of the year, when you look at the preseason, the training and all the rest of it. So pre season, the off season is, uh, is not much, but she had the chance to be back in the U S back in Vail. Reflecting on what had happened and what didn't happen in the prior season. And she's been recorded and interviews, uh, saying this is that she believed that she was caught up in the hype around what she was going to do at the winter Olympics in 2009. She was also focusing on multiple golds and thinking about multiple golds and, you know, looking forward to getting to the Olympics to win her multiple golds. Right. And the thing that she was reflecting on is that she got caught up in the outcomes, not caught up in the things that she could control. She was thinking about the big end point, the big goal, the big outcome, and not thinking about all the things that she was doing in the short term day by day, race by race training session by train session to really be successful. And then as she was planning out her next season, her focus was going to be on executing. Perfect turns simply. She wanted the experience of executing a perfect turn. She wanted that feeling of going into a race, going down the race course and knowing that she's in that groove, in that zone of executing perfect turns. Cause she knows that if she executes perfect turns or more perfect, the next person she's going to win races. Right. And that's what she can control. She can't control how fast they go. She can't control. The weather, she can't control conditions. All she can control is executing perfect turns. And that was the focus that she went into that next season. So what happened in the 2019 season? Uh, the 18, 19 season for her, it ended up being the single best season in the history of ski racing by a male or a female by a male or a female. She won 17 races. The next best woman that she was competing against won four races that season. Right? So she won 17, the next best one for the previous, all time history record male or female of the number of races won the season was 15, right? So she blew past that and got the 17. By the end of this. And the man who won the most racist that season, uh, they got eight races. Right. So just think about that, that signal that she had. It was, I mean, it's not being beaten. I don't know if I'll ever be beaten. I'm sure. At some point it will be, but you know, that was an incredible result, right? She'd gone from a good season having an average Olympics, reflecting back on what was important to, to really get better and then having the single best season in the history of ski racing the next season. So it's a good thing to think about in say. You know, we and sales get very much caught up in the big outcomes. We as sellers get asked by our leadership all about our forecast. They're not asking us to forecast. Well, how many times are you gonna pick up the phone this month or this quarter, they're not asking us to forecast, uh, things like the number of second meetings we get. Right. They're asking us to forecast outcomes. What are you doing? How many deals are you going to win? Things like that, which deals are going to win. And sometimes they're asking us to forecast many months out right there. They're not just interested in what we're doing this week. They're thinking three months, six months out, what do you go forecast for the second half? Right? Everything they think about is the results that come at some point in the future. But we know as sellers that we actually need to focus on the. We have to execute what we do our by our day by day, week by week, it's a small things that we do that happened again and again, and every day that move deals forward. It's our ability to pick up the phone and get the meeting with the critical influencer from the other. Right. And making sure that happens is our ability to make sure that the third meeting, the second meeting, the POC Rita meeting happens as soon as possible. Not in two or three weeks is our job to make sure we have these meetings. Yeah, they go very well. The right people are involved from both sides. The agenda strong, we got the right content. We know which questions to ask. Right? We got everything teed up to be successful. We win deals by doing these small things day by day, week by week, month by month and often. Doesn't sit there to help us do that. Right. They make coaches from the side, but it's up to us to make sure that those things happen and happen to the best of our abilities. And this is the sales equivalent of executing perfect turns. We need to be able to do these basic various. Right. Rarely in reality, do deals get won by some new, amazing approach and a different way of doing things that's just never been heard of before. That is new to the industry, right? It's done by doing the basics. Very, very. Yeah, we have to have one eye down the road because we get asked about that. Right. And we ourselves, we've got to think about our territories, our occurrences, our business, and we gotta be thinking long-term, but we have to be focusing right now on what happens at the moment. Our success comes from that rather than by obsessing about outcomes down the road. So my question for you today is what do you have to do to execute perfect turns this? One of the things that you can work on and how you go to market and how you conduct yourself and how you run meetings and get meetings and talk to people and ask questions and present things that you can get better at that will help you get focused on doing those things really, really well, as opposed to focusing just on the big outcomes. What are you going to do this week to get 1% better than you were last week? If you can get just 1%. At executing the basics, executing the perfect terms, the compounding effect on the success in your career is unbelievable. And I encourage you. If you're a data sort of person do a simple spreadsheet for 52 weeks, then the left-hand side start with a hundred and each week at 1% and see what the outcome is at the end to see what effect that can have. So I encourage you to think about the inspiration of, you know, my mind anyway, and maybe you disagree, but you know, Mikayla is probably one of the most dominant athletes, male or female in a sport in the world right now. And, she's had a good start to this season. She's almost at the point at age 26 of having the most wins in skiing, male or female in the history of. Right. She's I think she's about eight short of the record of the moment and she's only 26. So realistically she's got probably four, I don't know, six years left in a career. She's going to blow past that. So what can we learn from someone who's dominating skiing and has done for a while and is likely to end up being the greatest ski racer ever? What can we translate into sales to help us be successful and think about how we run our territories and run our business, getting that 1%. Executing perfect turns is going to help us do that.