Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sales Train Like an Athlete

An interesting observation that I've made about sales training and goal setting is that we're always trying to set goals as a percentage of what we did before. We take a look at how many units we did last month or quarter and decide we're going to do 10% more this time. Athletes take a much more aggregate approach, they still want an improvement of the final result, but they're not as concerned with the steps to get there.

Here are some things I can guarantee you are not said during athlete training sessions:

  • "Jim, this report says you hit 34 home runs last year. I crunched some numbers and I'm going to need you to hit 37 this year."
  • "Greg, you are still taking 7,398 steps on average during your races. If we don't cut that down below 7,200 I'm going to have to write you up."
  • "Lisa, your clubhead speed is up 5% from last season, great work, I think you could get another 5% out of it yet."
And lastly

  • "Carson, you've got a great arm, we have the best wide receivers in the league, but this week we're blitzing field goals, so every time you get down in the Red Zone, I'm pulling you for the Field Goal Unit."
I understand that there are fundamental differences between the way sports and business is scored, but sometimes I wonder if we really need to think all that differently.

Take the home run statement for example. Many managers have said the same thing to a salesperson about units sold. That's where the similarities stop though, because the baseball manager then turns to the hitters swing. They work on strength in the gym, hand speed, take batting practice, and so on. In sales, managers often just suggest making more phone calls. That's akin to telling a hitter to get more at-bats.

We need to help sales people focus on their fundamentals. We need to turn to role playing, observations, and coaching. Through these types of "practice" we can help our players tweak their sales fundamentals and produce more results.