How We Can Learn “MasterSales” Lessons

Like many people in Australia, my family and employees have been captivated by MasterChef Australia. What I love about MasterChef is that it can be seen as a metaphor for expressing our talents and being the best we can be. Given my interest in everything to do with sales, personal mastery and performance, I particularly love the parallel I have been able to draw about what it takes to be an elite master chef and an elite sales person and elite sales leader by the observation I have made in MasterChef.

As lessons for people wanting to master the sales profession,MasterChef works on many levels:

  • It’s about acquiring and honing a range of skills, often difficult to master skills individually and even more so in concert with each other
  • It’s about receiving and dealing with real feedback about real results
  • It’s about learning from your mistakes – practice, practice, practice
  • It’s about resilience – being able to get back up when you are down and face a new day whatever it may bring
  • It’s about personal insight and self-awareness
  • It’s about humility – letting go of the old to embrace the new
  • It’s about listening to and understanding what needs to be achieved
  • It’s about operating under pressure, sometimes extreme pressure (internal and external)
  • It’s about finding your own character and what you stand for; your values, your purpose
  • It’s about friendship and community even in a competitive environment
  • It’s about skillful learning – including learning how to be coached and mentored
  • It’s about personal responsibility
  • It’s about respect – for self, for peers, your leaders, and your profession
  • It’s about process – following the recipe, the fundamental rules of chemistry that work
  • It’s about personal leadership and being true to yourself
  • It’s about potential, opportunity, creativity, innovation and achievement

In my opinion, the real heroes of this program are the judges and guest chefs who have shown leadership and clarity of purpose in their mentoring and managing of the various contestants.

As leaders they display and model:

  • Their skillful leadership as masters in their own profession – they know what it takes to be a master craftsman in their profession. There is something magical in watching a skillful person create something wonderful.
  • Their respect for the discipline of training, learning, constant practice and continuous improvement
  • Their respect for process and quality – the foundations, the recipes, the ingredients. As leaders they leave nothing is half baked (pardon the pun).
  • Their love of and passion for what they do and the expectation they have for each contestant to reach and push beyond their own potential and what they thought they were capable of. Their encouragement and desire for excellence in each person is outstanding.
  • Their coaching skills – from running the master classes to their observations and feedback at the contestants work bench as they work through real life challenging situations is nothing short of text book.
  • Their constructive and honest feedback at judgment time as well as their ability to drill down to the fine detail to show where contestants did well and where they could improve makes for fine example of performance management conversations at their best.
  • Their care, respect and concern for each person and each person’s special gifts and talents.
  • Their regular referencing to and questioning of the real intentions of each person to make sure each contestant was in it for real.
  • Their knowledge about how to run a viable business – from cost of ingredients to the true value of a dish.
  • The standards they set. There is nothing mediocre about MasterChef.

My hope is that we as Sales Leaders can aspire to be role models in the same way these leaders are for their people. We each could learn lessons from how all the people on this show have managed their part in it – the good and the bad.

Excellence means giving our best to whatever we do and giving our best to relationships. Setting noble and realistic goals and remembering to plan and practice. We don’t try to do everything; instead we focus on developing our special gifts.

Purposeful Action means having a clear vision of what we want to accomplish. Knowing why we are doing what we are doing. Having a clear goal and getting back on track if we get scattered or distracted. Finishing what we start and persevering until we get results.

As author William Arthur Ward quotes “The price of excellence is discipline. The cost of mediocrity is disappointment.”