Successful Selling, It’s a Lot Like Playing “Texas Hold’em”

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Successful Selling, It’s a Lot Like Playing “Texas Hold’em”

“Texas Hold’em” has gained a large following. A countless number of people, young and old are playing it. Only the true elite are really making the top money. They earn it regularly at the expense of those who think they are good enough or lucky enough to win over the long haul. There are some serious lessons to be learned from the Poker craze. Sales masters and long-term poker professionals know them very well indeed.

Like a lot of others, I have become interested in the game. I find it a very interesting study of people’s personal belief systems, behaviors, and attitudes. I’ve watched poker on TV a number of times and usually, the commentator will explain the basic rules for the uninitiated. One particular individual begins by saying, “It’s a simple game really.” That’s true. Yes, it is.

But there is another poker saying that is even more descriptive and critical to understanding. “It takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.” It’s this statement that separates the master professional poker players from the herd and keeps the pawn shops in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the business.

That same statement can apply equally to the selling profession. It’s easy to enter but it takes a lifetime to master. Like the poker world, the selling profession’s ranks are littered with broken failures and starving under-achievers.

I have observed that the exact same set of behaviors and attitudes exist in the under-achievers in both groups. Let me share some of the more common examples.

  1. In both fields, many put their bankroll of money or their bankroll of their earning potential, ie. their time, on the line without proper study of the game.
  2. Many studies only one teacher or one system, believing that to be the best while closing their minds to the wisdom of all others.
  3. Many expect to win virtually every hand, tournament, session, or in the case of a salesperson, every selling opportunity.
  4. When something doesn’t work, as will eventually happen to everyone, many will look for someone else or something to blame. That could include the other players in the game, the cards, the dealer, or their own bad luck. In the selling business, it will be the customer, the competition, their fellow salespeople, their manager, their product or service, or their company.
  5. At a poker table, many will allow other participants to mess with their heads while the game is on, rather than understanding their emotions and exercising proper control of them. Salespeople do that all the time when dealing with customers when they have lost personal control.
  6. In both groups, there are those who refuse to take the opportunity of learning from their mistakes, or their miscalculations. Master poker pros keep notes, analyze stats, and review the session’s events in their minds. Surprise, so do master salespeople.
  7. Master poker players ‘read’ their opponents, carefully observing body language and other subtle things to pick up information that they will use to edge closer to their ultimate goal, getting paid. Master salespeople do the same because they know, getting paid is good!
  8. Master poker players understand that while they have a style, they need to make adjustments to their game based on the opponents they are facing. Hmm, master salespeople do that too because they have acquired the skills that allow them to do just that.
  9. Master poker players never pass up the opportunity to learn something new. Their brain is never full. Master salespeople are always taking a course, reading a book, or attending a seminar.
  10. Master poker players work hard but they enjoy abundance, recognition, and the joy of doing something they love with a passion. Master salespeople breathe that same rarefied air.
  11. It is said that poker is a game that rewards aggression, however aggression that is blind leads to disaster. Aggression that is calculated and controlled wins tournaments. Selling is no different. Overly ‘pushy’ salespeople step on a lot of selling landmines while masters know precisely when to close the deal.
  12. Most long-term poker masters do not lose control of their emotions when they have a setback. Yes I know there are always exceptions but they are not the norm. The same holds true for master salespeople.

The most glaring similarity between average amateur or poor poker players and under-achieving salespeople might very well be this.

They make a very bad play, technically and simply ”suck out”. It happens in poker and in the selling business all the time. This “sucking out” on occasion might be the exact thing that keeps these people consistently poor over the long haul. Why? Because it gives them the illusion that they actually did something the right way because it brought some measure of success.

This will cause them to repeat the mistake, again and again, resulting in far more losses than wins. That’s great news for the real professionals because it keeps the money flowing to them. “Getting paid is good!!” So, as you can see, successful selling is a lot like playing “Texas Hold’em”. The great thing is, in selling, you personally get to choose how you will be ranked in the world!


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