Are You A Player, Or A Coach?
March brings March Madness. March Madness
is the college basketball tournament where the 64 teams battle to find out who is the best college basketball team of the season.
While you are watching your team this year, I would like you to learn a lesson that every basketball coach has had to learn. The easiest way to learn this lesson is to do a little analysis. I would like you to count the number of times when the
game is tight, one team is on the free-throw line, and the coach makes a substitution – himself.
Yes, count the number of times the coach doesn’t trust the player he has been coaching all season and puts himself on the line to make that winning shot.
I can already tell
you the number: ZERO.
During a game, the coach can rant, rave, coach, and cajole, but he cannot play the game. He has to trust that the athletes he has coached all season will take his instruction, remember the skills they have practiced, and execute those plays as they were taught.
This doesn’t happen in sales. It is almost commonplace for the coach (the sales manager) to step in and drive the conversation. He puts his athlete, whom he has been coaching perhaps for years, on the bench.
So, let’s explore what would happen if suddenly you were required to stay on the sidelines while you watched your salespeople sell,
and it was impossible for you to take over the sale.
First, you would need to become a much better communicator of the behaviors you want from your salespeople. You would quickly discover that vague concepts like “digging deeper” and “doing your homework” doesn’t get you predictable results on the playing field. You would notice that your team performed much better if you got
specific about the behaviors you wanted to see. The exact question you want them to ask the client. The specific way you want a proposal to read.
And as you become more transparent and more precise in describing the behaviors you want from your sales team, you will likely want to observe those behaviors in practice. So there would likely be a dramatic increase in time spent rehearsing. The
sales meetings would probably start looking like team practices. The one-on-one sessions would likely become individual clinics.
And what do you figure would be the content of the practices? I’ll bet you there would be a constant review of the fundamentals.
The late Dean
Smith would practice the last two minutes of a game over and over and over. He would set up a scenario in which the team was nine points down, and they had two minutes to turn the game around. With every practice, his team became more and more competent in the fundamental mechanics of winning.
Imagine a salesperson who goes out to make a presentation to a client. When she arrives,
the client says, “Oh, that project we discussed is no longer our top priority.” Does she know what to do? Salespeople who haven’t practiced the fundamental selling process may not know how to pivot. They may not know that the appropriate response is to put aside the presentation they brought and begin a needs analysis. Fundamental behaviors can be practiced in the office over and over again.
I have more to discuss on this issue, so please jump over to my longer article linked here.
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