Can chess improve your sales


To improve your sales you must develop problem-solving skills. I started playing chess at the same time as I started in sales, and to my surprise, I realised that a lot of the skills are transferable.

To learn chess, you must be resilient. As a beginner you will lose many games before you start winning. Even though you practice and learn about strategies, it takes a while to grasp the basic concepts and can feel disheartening. But then try spending eight hours in the cold, knocking on a hundred doors, and going home without a sale. It’s a numbers game. Keep applying what you learned in training and be resilient.

When you play chess online, you get assigned a random opponent. They might be a man, a woman, they might come from Ireland, or Russia, or Bangladesh, they might be twice or half your age. This is essentially the same thing as door-to-door sales. Anyone could answer that knock.

When you play the white pieces, you make the first move. This is called the opening. Black then responds with a move and opponents take turns in playing the white and black pieces. In sales however you are always the white. You must always make that first move.

You can’t prepare for everything. In chess, no matter how much you learn, your opponent might throw a move at you that leaves you in shock. Maybe they fork two of your pieces, maybe they throw a check that allows them to capture your queen. In sales a customer might ask you a question that you are completely unprepared for. Two things might happen, you panic, end up losing the game. Or you take a deep breath and help the customer as best you can.

You can always actively listen. In chess, you might formulate an attack plan and stop paying attention to what your opponent is doing. It might work, but chess is about responding to the moves your opponent makes, so you might get checkmated because you were too busy with your own attack. Similarly, in sales you might be tempted to deliver your pitch before really engaging with the customer because all you can see is the sale, the win. But it is a process, and you cannot sell unless you are paying close attention.

You win some and you lose some. Once you gain confidence things start to be easier, but you will still make mistakes. You can be winning, but one wrong move and your opponent takes the advantage. You can make a great pitch, but the customer still backs out. Losing is not a bad thing provided you can learn from your mistakes. Just as you build on them to become a better chess player, you can build to improve your sales. You must analyse the game and find out how and when you lost the advantage, when the customer lost interest.

Missed mate. In online chess there are analysis tools that show missed opportunities. Even when you win after forty moves, it shows you how you could have done it in fifteen. To improve your sales you must analyse the buying cues, especially when you didn’t see them. You could have closed in five minutes, but you didn’t. You missed your chance.

It’s all in your head. Once you have played chess online your rating will go up. Then suddenly, you have a losing streak. What has changed? You still have the same knowledge. Similarly in sales, you are knocking on doors and suddenly no one seems interested. You feel like you’ve lost your touch and that you will never sell again. The only thing that has changed is your state of mind. Winning in any pursuit requires knowledge, experience, and confidence. So don’t let your confidence crumble. Take a step back, and a deep breath. Tomorrow is another day.