Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is!” This is so true. We will never win every negotiation. Neither will we win all the business we truly want. But we have to try hard—100% for every opportunity.
For everyone in and outside our sector, we have to have a passion to win. Our goal needs to be the “gold medal.” But we have to determine what a “win” is, because it is not always to close or the get the gold medal. Goals are critical.
My daughter played goalie on a boys/co-ed hockey team and a girls team this past winter. Her boys team was competitive. They were about 500 for the season. They never got “blown out.” Losses were always within a goal or two. So, in this case, the “win” was the two points in the win column. That determined winning or losing.
The girls team was different. It was like a “Bad News Bears” team. At the beginning of the season, there were girls who had never played hockey before. There were girls who had been playing, but really had little to no skills. Their first regular season game was a 19-0 loss. Games typically resulted in 100+ shots on her, while the opposing team’s goalie was lucky if she had one shot on net. The coaches had to redefine winning. They set different goals. A win was based on things like the girls, as a team, completing five passes in a game, and perhaps getting a shot on net or trying to keep the shots on their goalie to less than 100! Most games, the girls had a win! They made the passes they needed to. They blocked shots. They even got some shots on net (sometimes it was icing that landed on the net, but a shot on goal all the same). By the end of the season, the team had one win and two ties! You have never seen a group so ecstatic as those girls when they got their first goal, tie, or win! They had a passion to win. They set their sights on winning. In the early days of the season, the “win” was not always on the scoreboard. Sometimes winning was defined differently!
In my professional world, the scenario is the same. We need to define “winning.” A great sponsorship professional sets winning markers along the way. In my career, there have been times when I did not close the deal. I worked hard, set my sights, and did my best, but did not get the client or close the deal. Often, that “loss” was a win. I remember a time when a prospect wanted to do something a certain way. I knew it would not work. If he went forward with it the way he proposed versus the way I suggested, he would be wasting his money. He chose to spend his budget with another property. Two years later, he was one of my top clients. As I predicted, his investment was a waste. He came back to me and we built a program that was within budget and worked for him. For me, the win was when I stood my ground, kept my integrity, and did not let him waste his money. It hurt initially (from a budget perspective), but paid off in the long run.
As sponsorship professionals, we need to look for the wins along the way—getting in the door, understanding a prospect’s business, building a program that will work. Sometimes, we won’t win on the close, but we will win overall when we know we did the right thing.
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