Tom Brady: The Best Sales Rep That Never Was

7 Sales Lessons We Can Learn From Tom Brady

You don’t need to be a football fan to know that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. His accomplishments on the field are unequaled in the history of football. Between his 7 Super Bowl wins and 5 Super Bowl MVPs and his 243 regular season wins, his record as quarterback is the standard that future players will be measured against. But there is one question Mr. Brady still needs to answer. If he were in sales, what type of salesperson would Tom Brady be? In this article, we will explore that hypothetical question and see how you compare to the Tom Brady of sales. 

Holds Himself to a Higher Standard

Tom Brady was selected with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft. Every team passed drafting him through six rounds and six other quarterbacks were selected before he was chosen by the New England Patriots. In his first meeting with owner Robert Kraft, he said, “You will never regret picking me.” Even though he was not the starter, he prepared every day like he was the starter. He did not sit around whining and complaining but got to work improving. For example, Brady was the only player on his team that showed up for every offseason workout his first year. 

The discipline that made Brady the G.O.A.T. in football would transition well to a sales career. In sales, it is easy to get distracted by things outside of our control. For example, the sales manager does not give us the “starting position” and we can react negatively. We start focusing on things we have no control over, and these distractions lead us to underperform. As a salesperson, Brady would compartmentalize his personal feelings, and focus on his professional improvement every day. Brady would be the salesperson who would produce a record month, and instead of planning a vacation to Hawaii, he would analyze his performance and see where he could improve. He would not be the type of salesperson glorifying past success at the peril of present achievements. In Tom’s own words, “I’d say I’m very motivated. I have a real strong fire that burns based on me never wanting to let myself down.” Yes, Tom Brady, the salesperson, would hold himself to a higher standard.

Makes Everyone Better Around Him

Like the quarterback position, few roles have more impact on the success of the company as sales. Just like a great quarterback will hit his receivers, a great salesperson will hit their sales numbers. As a high-achieving member of the sales team, Tom would make everyone step up their game. If Tom Brady was on your sales team, there would be no room for slackers. Tom Brady could take the marketing leads no one else wanted and turn them into top accounts. Daily competition in sales is one thing that makes great sales teams even better. Competition makes everyone better, and ultimately, the company as well. Tom would set the performance standard and raise the performance of everyone else on the sales team. For example, during the week leading up to the first Super Bowl with his new team in Tampa Bay, he texted his teammates nightly, “We will win.” 

Long Term View

Tom Brady did not just want to be a great quarterback, he wanted to be great for a long time. He took a long-term view of his career and made sacrifices to ensure he was able to play at a high level for 20 years. He developed his own fitness program, called TB12, based on pliability and healthy nutrition. If Tom Brady was a salesperson, he would deliberately seek out new sales strategies, training methods, and adjust his sales behaviors to ensure he maximizes his long-term success. This means, as a salesperson, Tom would not just work hard, but also smarter. Tom would recognize the difference between high-value activities like learning new sales skills, versus low-value activities like watching TV after work nightly. He would always choose activities that improved his health, performance, and financial goals.

Sacrifice For the Team

It is a well-known fact that Tom Brady has taken less money on his contracts so his teams could sign better players. It’s been estimated that he left between $20-$50 million on the table. Brady may have been the best player in the league, but he was never the highest paid player. Why? Because of his desire to win. If Tom Brady was on your sales team, he would forgo maxing out his commissions so the company would have the budget to invest in new initiatives that would improve the company. Every company faces budget decisions and having a superstar salesperson who sees the bigger picture and is willing to invest in the company so everyone wins would be the Tom Brady of sales. 

Positive Attitude

Tom Brady did not like to leave things up to fate — certainly regarding his football career. If Brady was a salesperson, he would be serious about peak performance. He would work hard at the things that are within his control: His work ethic, how he takes care of his body, and his attitude. Especially his attitude. He once said,

Things happen sometimes that I don’t welcome or want, but I make the choice to remain positive. That is something within my control. I don’t like to focus on negatives or to make excuses. I am never a victim. I gain nothing if I get angry or frustrated. You can make life a lot harder for yourself by focusing on negative things in your path or making excuses for why things didn’t go your way. Or, you can refuse to take things personally, let them go, learn from them, and become the best version of yourself. It’s a choice. It’s actually your choice. If I throw an interception or have a bad day or make a bad business decision, by staying in that place I will just make things worse. Wisdom, someone said, is about knowing the difference between the things you can control and the things you can’t.” As a successful salesperson, Tom Brady would believe that he would achieve his goals and remain positive even when facing adversity.

Highly Competitive

Many of Tom Brady’s former teammates have called him one of the most competitive athletes they have ever played with or competed against. He said, “I think the great part about what I do is that there’s a scoreboard. At the end of every week, you know how you did. You know how well you prepared. You know whether you executed your game plan. There’s a tangible score.” If Brady were a salesperson, we would not only enjoy winning, but he would eat, sleep, and breathe sales. His highly competitive nature would propel him into uncharted territory. Any setbacks or lost sales would only be a motivating opportunity for learning and to do better the next time. 

Poise Under Pressure

Down 28-3 in the third quarter, Tom Brady’s team looked as if they would lose Super Bowl 51. But Brady led a late-game comeback and ended up winning in overtime. When the pressure is on, Brady delivers. Salespeople deal with countless sources of pressure every day; from the pressure of closing an account to the pressure of exceeding quota. Pressure is an everyday part of a salesperson’s life. A high-level salesperson like Tom Brady would perform well under pressure and still come out victorious. If Tom Brady was a salesperson, he would have the poise to handle the biggest accounts because of his preparation and mental focus. Brady, the salesperson, would know that pressure is something you create within yourself, not the situation you are in. No stage would be too big for Tom Brady as a salesperson and he will deliver the deal under pressure. 

In Conclusion

In this hypothetical scenario, we explored how Tom Brady would perform as a salesperson. The ideas presented here are designed to challenge your thinking about your sales career. There is little doubt that the attributes that make Brady great on the football field would transition well into a career in sales. Very few sales managers would not want a Tom Brady on their sales team. The good news is that the skills that made Brady the best quarterback in football history can be implemented by any salesperson with the determination and dedication to improve. Brady was never the most naturally gifted athlete; he was just willing to outwork the competition. If a salesperson only relies on their raw abilities, they will likely never maximize their potential. If, however, they adopt Tom Brady’s mindset, discipline, and focus, they can become the MVP of their sales team.