Do you believe in winning at all costs?
Without going into details, Australia, widely regarded as the best Cricket team in the world decided to cheat to win their match against South Africa by ball tampering.
This is no Aussie bashing article from a ‘bitter, twisted Pom’ as Mark McInnes, Graham Hawkins & I were entering some banter by messaging each other over the last few days.
Why would a team that is already the best in the world resort to cheating?
Captain Smith, Vice Captain Warner, Bancroft and “the senior leadership team” clearly decided that cheating was worth it, just to win a cricket match. With such a big risk, what’s the big reward?
What is it that drives someone, a team, to cross the line & cheat like we witnessed in Cape Town?
I think the answer lies in reputation. Australia have built themselves up to be this world-beating team, so anything less than beating the world at Cricket would be seen as a failure.
When you’re so used to success, the fear of failure must be quite the driver. The negative press that failure in sport receives is rarely sympathetic. You’ve got your sponsors and fans driving you to win and complaining or not supporting you as much if you don’t. You have the success of previous teams to live up to; if you do, your records are immortalised in record books.
So it is high reward, but it’s also extremely high risk. Cheating, or even the sniff of cheating tarnishes a great sportsperson’s reputation.
Lets look at some other examples.
Look at how Lance Armstrong left his legacy in Cycling. Sir Bradley Wiggins is now having to defend an allegation that he crossed the line when taking steroids for asthma.
Sir Mo Farah is dealing with the allegations made around his coach, Alberto Salazar.
The stigma of the allegation or reality of cheating sticks. Look at the effect each of these incidents is having on the people involved, the families, the nation and the branding.
To some degree each of these sports & sports professionals will never be seen the same again.
If they are to be seen as shining lights once more, some serious repenting, rebuilding & learning must be done, over a long period of time.
Two things people have to protect in life is their integrity and their ethics.
Because through these two things comes trust, respect and status – cornerstones of your reputation, which is such a defining factor of success in society.
The correlation to the Sales Profession is profound.
Certain sectors in Sales get close to crossing the line. Some cross it. They take different forms in different counties: 2nd hand car sales, PPI, Accident Insurance.
I’m not judging individual sectors, (I don’t need to, people have their own judgements) I’m just highlighting the impact that reputation, or the implication of cheating has on our predominantly highly skilled and ethical profession.
Consider the pressures in sales to make quota & the recent reported success rates. With 40% of sales professionals not making quota perhaps the pressure to cheat in sales is a real risk?
In sales, do you go for the deal regardless of applicability of the solution? Do you get obsessed by your targets and the fear of the failure to meet them? Do you get blinded by the status of being the top seller?
Let us in Sales take the lessons learnt, (well maybe not yet learnt) in sport and apply them to Sales.
Selling is a profession that should be underwritten with integrity & ethics.
Although the failure to act within the “rules” in sales might not be as highly exposed as it is in the top level of sports, the reputation loss of the entire profession is still as impactful.
Think twice if temptation is calling you to cheat, in any form.
Stick to your principles, protect your reputation and #ElevateEverywhere. The one thing that shouldn’t be for sale is your reputation; because when it’s gone, it’s gone
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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]