During the second week of August, along with four million other people, I was glued to my television watching history in the making at the Rio Olympics.

There are certain events in our lifetime that cause us to remember where we were when they happened. August 13, 2016 is one of those — the day Michael Phelps set the gold standard and won his 28th Olympic swimming medal.

During interviews afterward, Phelps was asked what this 28th Olympic medal meant to him. “It just feels good to know that the hard work did pay off,” Phelps said. “I was able to fight through some of the times that I went through … and get back to where I actually wanted to be.”

Phelps’s quest to become the all-time greatest swimmer, and the most decorated Olympian in history, started with having a great coach who made him focus on certain core tenets during practice to prepare him to compete and win gold at the Olympics. Four of these core tenets are physical preparation, mental preparation, technical preparation and strategic preparation.

A correlation can be made between Phelps’s preparation to win gold at the Olympics and your preparation to win the sale with the next potential client. Every great athlete or successful salesperson has a strong coach. Most people don’t even know the name of Phelps’s coach … and that is what makes Bob Bowman a great one. It’s not about him, it’s about making Phelps the greatest swimmer ever.

We’ll save the topic of great coaching for another article. For now, let’s concentrate on preparation by taking a closer look at these four core tenets.

Physical preparation

A salesperson needs to build their physical stamina. Modern medicine has proven that when your body is in good shape, your brain functions better. A strong body and mind help you to handle stress, overcome challenges and manage time better — all of which can help you leverage more opportunities. When you feel good inside and out, you perform at your best.

So take care of yourself, get enough sleep and eat well. It may seem basic, but it makes a difference and helps set the stage for the next tenet.

Mental preparation

Mental preparation for a salesperson requires you to increase your level of self-confidence, reduce fear under pressure and focus on the winning outcome. Mental preparation includes visualizing what a winning outcome will look like and formulating presentations in your head. Another mental tool is to build self-esteem through internal conversations with yourself. Focus on positive words about yourself and push negative thoughts aside.

My favorite mental preparation tool is having pre-performance routines such as laying out my clothes the night before, listening to a specific song or having my favorite winning breakfast (which happens to be eggs over easy atop a cheesy English muffin with a strong cup of black coffee!).

Technical preparation

Your self-confidence will be further boosted through technical preparation. The top salespeople understand that technical preparation is knowing the specific features and benefits of your product or service that align with your clients’ needs. You should use technical knowledge to uncover potential market or industry trends that your clients should be aware of because they present a threat or opportunity to your clients’ businesses. Technical preparation also arms you with responses to objections, allowing you to turn them into opportunities.

Strategic preparation

Strategic preparation requires you to look at the big picture and prepare for each stage of the meeting. It’s where everything gained through the other three tenets comes together to help create a specific plan. Use your technical knowledge to build the presentation and prepare for questions and objections. Do your homework, and dive deep into a customer’s business to create a presentation that focuses on what the client wants and needs. Practice and visualize yourself giving that presentation with success.

Michael Phelps’s statement about winning his final gold medal, “It just feels good to know that the hard work did pay off,” should be every great salesperson’s mantra. Train yourself to use these core tenets every day and every time you work with a client. Be your own Bob Bowman. Preparation and hard work are the key to winning, whether it’s gold or the next sale.


John Monroe is a Business Development Advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), the largest consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Monroe is a leading expert in marketing, sales and sales management for the restoration and cleaning industries with over 30 years of experience in those fields. Through Violand, Monroe works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit Violand.com or call (800) 360-3513.