Sales Lessons From The Super Bowl: How You Can Master “Relaxed Intensity”

by Jeff Shore

How You Can Master Relaxed Intensity

Can you even imagine the pressure? The hype? The attention? The expectations?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of an NFL player during the Super Bowl? Every play scrutinized, every move analyzed, and every result magnified.

How do they handle that?

There is an answer to that question. It’s called “relaxed intensity.” Yes, that sounds oxymoronic but here is the definition of relaxed intensity: being so fully engaged in the moment that the environment around you is at peace.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it a state of “flow.” Many athletes refer to it as being “in the zone.” Wayne Gretzky used to say that the game slowed down around him when he was at his best.

My guess is that you are with me on this discussion thus far. So now let’s talk about why it is so important that we get it right, and what happens when we get it wrong.

Your Stress and Your Customer’s Attitude

In considering how “flow” relates to the sales presentation there is only one thing that matters: how does your attitude affect your customer? What do your customers see from you? Feel from you?

What energy – positive or negative, intense or laid-back – are they sensing? Make no mistake; customers take their emotional cues from the salesperson. Stress breeds stress; calm breeds calm.

A Super (Bowl) Story

In 1982, the San Francisco 49ers had no business playing in a Super Bowl. The team’s record the previous year was 6-10, and 2-14 the year before that. The quarterback was a no-name third-round draft pick.

There were no superstars (at the time!). Everything about the organization had the ring of losers for the previous two decades.

Head Coach Bill Walsh, nicknamed “The Genius,” not just because of his football intelligence (he wrote his master’s thesis on how to stop the pro-set offense) but also because he understood the principle of relaxed intensity. He knew his team was emotionally outmatched by the veteran Cincinnati Bengals.

So when the 49ers travelled to Detroit for Super Bowl XVI and the team bus pulled up to the hotel where they would be staying, the normally stoic Bill Walsh greeted them in the front of the hotel…. dressed as a bellhop and helping players with their bags.

What was the message? 1) We have serious work to do. 2) Let’s relax and enjoy it.

Salesperson: Stress-Reducer

Your customer has plenty of stress already; they do not need yours as well.

Like a doctor calmly and confidently explaining the strategy and expected outcome of a surgery. Or an attorney calmly and confidently explaining the strategy and expected outcome of a trial.

A sales professional must calmly and confidently explaining the strategy and expected outcome of a purchase. Like an NFL player in the biggest game of his life.

Be calm. Be intense. Change your customer’s world.


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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and President of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in field-tested and proven consumer psychology-based sales training programs.

Jeff is a top-selling author, host of the popular sales podcast, The Buyer’s Mind, and an award-winning keynote speaker. He holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the NSA’s exclusive Million Dollar Speaker’s Group.

With over 30 years of real-world, frontline experience, Jeff’s advanced sales strategies spring from extensive research into the psychology of buying and selling. He teaches salespeople how to climb inside the mind of their customers to sell the way their buyers want to buy. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients generated over $30 billion in sales last year.