We were staying at a lovely golf resort in St. George, Utah, but that's not what we were playing. Instead, when checking out the pool area, my husband and I discovered an outdoor ping pong table.
My husband quickly grabbed one paddle; I picked up the other. It's been decades since we last faced off against each other. We were never very good, but we were always competitive.
After a brief warm-up period, I felt the old rivalry re-emerging. My husband had moved too far to the right side of the table. With a nice hit to the left corner, I could score an easy point. Maybe even a bragging point.
Eagerly, I whacked the ball into just the right spot -- or so I thought. Instead, it sailed six feet beyond the table into the underbrush. (Too much adrenaline!)
Moments later, another opportunity presented itself. My husband was playing too close to the table, making it difficult for him to hit a long ball placed directly in front of him.
I swung hard and fast. It hit him in the chest. Another big miss for me.
After a few more lost points, the root cause of the problem became glaringly obvious. My eagerness to score big was causing me to make rookie mistakes.
To win, I needed to control my emotions -- which, as you might imagine, is easier said than done.
I have to do that in sales too. Good sales opportunities get my adrenaline flowing. I can see how I can help. I know I can make a difference. I want to pounce on my prospect.
It doesn't work. Instead, it creates serious, sales-ending obstacles.
Prospects don't want to play with you anymore. They think you're only out for yourself. It's probably not true, although I have to admit that early in my career it was.
If you really want to win at the game of sales, it's crucial to control your emotions. Sometimes the first step is hardest -- recognizing your own actions are causing the problems.
Then you have to figure out new ways to respond and even learn new skills. It's hard work, but it's worth it.
As for my ping pong game, I realized that mastering the skills I needed to beat my husband would take longer than our weekend getaway. I decided to focus on having fun instead -- and keeping the ball in play.