Tuesday, September 14, 2004


How Sales is Like Poker (and vice versa)

I'm a sales manager during the day, and a webmaster and poker player when I'm not being a husband and a father. One of the things I do as a sales manager is figure out how to make my sales team more productive. As I learn more about poker, I've started using it as a metaphor for the sales process.

Sales leads are like starting hands in poker. If a sales lead is qualified, it's like a good solid starting hand. The more qualified a lead is, the better the starting hand. A really qualified sales lead, someone who calls you, knows exactly what she wants, and even demonstrates that she knows how she wants to pay for it, is very much like pocket kings or pocket aces.

Good poker strategy says you should get away from poor starting hands as quickly as possible. The longer you stay in with a hand that's going to get beat, the more money you're going to lose on the hand. Same thing with a lead that isn't qualified. If a sales lead wants to buy something you don't offer, you can spend a lot of time trying to get them to buy something they don't want, but at the end of the sales process, you're going to likely have spent a lot of time (chips) on a losing hand.

Good poker strategy says you should play tight but aggressive poker. Tight means you don't play many hands. In sales, that equates to not spending a lot of time on poorly qualified leads. Aggressive means that you raise more often than you call. In sales, that equates to going for the close, soon and often.

Good salespeople should make good poker players, and vice versa.

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