“…but most of all, I would like to thank my team, and [name], my coach for his/her endless support and commitment to my success, for motivating me, and for never giving up and believing in me. Without you, I would not be standing here today… thank you.”
You’re probably thinking sports. I’m actually talking about selling. There are many synergies between the two. Let’s explore.
The Tour de France just completed with fierce competition. Novak Djokovic won his sixth Wimbledon Title. Ashleigh Barty is the first Australian woman to win the Ladies Singles Title in over 50 years. We watched the Open Golf Championship and the European Football Championship. (I must say, it pains me terribly as an England supporter to accept that we lost to Italy on penalties in the final…”Bravi Azzuri!” Well done, Italy!) And of course, the marvel of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics!
So, what has any of this got to do with sales or sales leadership? Quite a lot, actually.
You see, I have always believed there are synergies that run deep between selling and sports. Training, preparation, attention to detail, team and/or individual events, fierce competition, fatigue, and of course… winning or losing. And so often determined by the narrowest of margins.
As we watch the winners interviewing about their victory, they typically first congratulate their opponent and opponent’s team, but then… and here it is, we hear:
“Most of all, I would like to thank my team, and [name], my coach for his/her endless support and commitment to my success…”
In our world, sales teams and individuals need a coach too. That means us! If we are able to do so really well, we will make a massive difference in their performance, and as a result, our own.
As sales leaders, our primary responsibility is delivering the numbers each quarter for our company. We must put in place a regular deal cadence with each of our team members. This is done by way of calls, deal reviews, and inspections.
However, we can sometimes confuse “deal reviews” with “deal coaching” thinking they are one and the same thing. In doing so, we misunderstand the single most important aspect of our role.
So, what is the difference? Salespeople do not enjoy (being polite here) preparing for a “review.” They find the process intimidating. They feel pressured, stressed, and alone. At worse, these reviews can become counter-productive to sales performance. They are typically designed to check on progress towards a sign date that is often reflective of quarterly business requirements, as opposed to what our clients need or are prepared to commit to.
On the other hand, once salespeople have experienced coaching corporate culture, they look forward to and enjoy sessions with us. They are made to feel valued, at ease, supported, motivated, and most of all, that they have YOU, their coach, on their side offering guidance and advice to move the deal to a win.
Don’t get me wrong, we still need regular business reviews to track our performance, of course. We also need coaching corporate culture to be at the heart of our selling culture.
In sports, athletes rely heavily on their coaches. It would just seem crazy for them not to have regular coaching from the outset in support of their goals. Yet, even with so many similarities between sports and selling, very few salespeople are actually coached.
Having hired great talent, we are expected to provide our teams with innovative training and support systems. We make sure they are taught current selling skills, and we incent success with 100% clubs, sales bonuses, “of the year” awards, etc. But the bit so often lacking is the huge value contribution coaching can have on our team and our business.
My question is… how often do you coach them? Do you have a coaching corporate culture cadence, as well as deal reviews, as part of the sales culture in your organization?
The concept of deal coaching as a sales leader can be daunting. I get that. Consider taking a course to improve on it and practice coaching techniques. Give yourself the support and commitment. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Your team will follow.
Line up some guest speakers for your team meetings from diverse backgrounds (including athletes and sports coaches) to share how they prepare to win.