From the day my baseball “career” (being a Division 2 bullpen pitcher hardly qualifies as a career) ended, I knew what I’d miss most in my life was the competitive rush the sport provided me.
The initial lurch in my stomach upon hearing my name called to go warm up got things started. Wanting like hell to sprint to the mound, take the ball from the guy out there and say, “Back the fuck up, daddy’s got this.” Trying to master being Johnny Cool on the outside while my heart threatened to burst through my uniform and scream out, “This guy is shitting his pants!” on the inside.
Every athlete remembers the run into the game. Sprinting in from the sideline, checking in at the scorer’s table, or jogging in because the bases are juiced and you need a ground ball. It’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Fucking beautiful. You get your warm up tosses, or your light stretch, whatever time allowed. Then you were locked in battle and there was nothing like it. Nothing beats the euphoria of victory or the misery of defeat.
Anyone who enjoyed sports in their youth thrived on this and misses the hell out of it now. Sure, you’ve got your chance to compete a bit on the golf course or in men’s league, and maybe that does it for you, but more often than not post-grad life is lacking in a competitive rush. Which is why any athlete with a ruthless desire to win needs to go into sales.
It’s not quite the same as battling via your athletic prowess (probably a benefit for non-athletic athletes like me), but sales is a competitive blitz all the same. I’m four years in, and while it’s not baseball, the goal for me remains the same: I want to be Mariano Rivera, because closers close.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling: cars, insurance, meth. For the first time since you left the field, you’re locked in a battle of wits trying to dominate the game and get that signature on the dotted line. The contest as old as time leads you down the same breathtaking road as almost any sporting event you’ve ever been a part of. And trading in weights at 6 a.m. and post-practice sprints for shaking hands and kissing babies isn’t the worst exchange you’ll ever make.
There’s nothing like being locked in a bidding or design war waiting on the decision of a client. Did you do what it takes, or are they going to kick you to the curb like a used condom in the back alley behind a strip club? Much like a championship ring or a t-shirt, whatever you were playing for always hung in the balance of every at bat, shot, or running play, and the same goes for sales. That commission check you’re in desperate need of or that quota you need to hit is anxiously resting on the shoulders of a guy who “just needs some time to talk to his partners and think it over.” It’s excruciating and exhilarating.
Obviously, you don’t often get to stand toe-to-toe with your competitor and talk trash, at least in my line of work. I’ve never gotten to call a single adversary motherfucker, soft as puppy shit, or any of my other favorites, but I always hope that they can somehow sense my hatred telepathically when we submit our competitive bids. Aside from that letdown, however, there’s not a whole lot that you can’t get from sales that you got from athletics.
We all remember the post-game celebration. Now instead of it being a party at Taylor’s house or 10 cent beer night, it’s lining up shots at some sleek restaurant with the office squad celebrating a big time deal closing. Maybe you don’t get to pimp home runs or show up someone with a strikeout, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t pull a Happy Gilmore club between my legs celebration in my home office last month when I locked down a whale of a client.
So you’ll never walk off of that field again drenched in sweat or stare down an opponent with a dub hanging in the balance. Sitting at your desk gripping your chair for dear life and loosening your shitty tie during crunch time of a deal is going to have to suffice to get those competitive juices going. If you ever stepped onto the field or the court, you need to step into the sales thunder dome. Take down the poster of Michael Jordan and throw up the poster of Jordan Belfort. It’s a whole new ballgame..
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