Building a Powerful Team the Sports Coach Way

I’m neither a sports nut nor a statistician, but if I were, I’d probably be an even better sales manager.

Unfortunately, I’m sports inert. For whatever reason, I have little or no interest in any kind of sports whatsoever. This was probably due to the lack of a strong father influence during those formative years where father and son have some quality one-on-one time, usually on a playing field of some kind.

When it comes to statistics, I understand just enough to be dangerous.

Sports Nuts

You may consider yourself a sports aficionado rather than a sports nut. Whatever. Have you ever noticed that these people seem to know how to play the game, whatever it is, better than the professionals who are actually engaged in the sport? They all seem to know exactly what the players should be doing and how they should be doing it. They often consider themselves amongst the coaching greats when it comes to helping their team succeed.

These people watch every move and every play and have the ability to analyze dynamic situations on the fly. If only they could impart this information directly to the players rather than having to simply wave their arms and shout at the television set. Actually, it’s probably a good thing they can’t get directly to the players — too much conflicting information.

Sales Nuts

If we had more “sales nuts” out there, our sales teams might do even better. Don’t confuse “sales nuts” with just being plain “nuts” which is a prerequisite for being a sales manager.

In actual fact, as a sales manager, you should be a bit of a sales nut as well and not only cheer on the team but assist them by coaching as required.

Sales nuts have knowledge of selling beyond the gut level. They use their brains as much as their stomachs when analyzing sales situations. Sales nuts will usually have had some formal sales training, read several books on the topic, and probably still read one or two sales-oriented books every year in order to stay at the top of their game.

Real Coaches

There are a number of lessons to be had by watching sports coaches (real coaches!).

First of all, they don’t get in and play the game; they help their players do that. If a play is going bad, you don’t see the coach running onto the field to save the day. Contrast that with the sales manager who feels compelled to jump in and save a sale that is going astray.

Second, real coaches motivate. Sure, they know when to kick butt but they realize that players whose butts have been kicked don’t play near as well as those whose backs have been patted.

Third, real coaches know their players well and are able to capitalize on their players’ strengths while minimizing or neutralizing their weaknesses. That’s why some sports have a defensive and offensive line-up, to better utilize their players. As sales managers, maybe you should be using your “Hunters” to hunt and your “Farmers” to farm, etc, and benefit even more from their primary strengths.

Fourth, real coaches help their players learn from their mistakes. Coaches and their players will often watch game tapes to review and analyze what they did right, what went wrong, and where they need to improve. While you can’t videotape a real sale, you could take a few moments to debrief the salesperson after a sales call. By the way, debriefing doesn’t mean beating the crap out of the salesperson. It means spotlighting the things he or she did well as well as those areas that need improvement.

These are just a few of the lessons we can learn from the people who coach high-performance teams.

Knowing the Numbers

Did you ever notice that most sports nuts are also great statisticians? Hockey players are measured using nine statistics and NFL players have a set of ten stats that are used to compare one team with another.

Baseball fans (nuts) are probably the worst and can drive you crazy with statistics. AB (at bats), HRR (Home Run Ratio), and SBR (Stolen Base Runs) are just three of the over 70 statistics associated with going out to the ball game. Give one of these fans a player’s name and he can rattle off a stream of numbers that will make your eyes roll and your head spin.

Sales Stats

The sales game also has its statistics that can be used to measure individual performance. Some of them are:

  • CR: Closing Ratio
  • CNP: Calls on New Prospects
  • CEP: Calls to Existing Customers
  • TNC: Total Number of Calls
  • TNO: Total Number of Orders
  • CSR: Call-to-Sale Ratio
  • TDS: Total Dollars Sold
  • AOS: Average Order Size

If sales managers kept these kinds of stats on their players, they’d have a better idea of who to keep in play, who should be sitting on the bench, who are keepers, and who should be traded when the opportunity presents itself.

These statistics also give you the information you need to do effective performance reviews as well as discover those areas where some of your team requires coaching or training.

Building a Powerful Team

Sales managers who monitor performance to this degree are the ones who will build high-performance sales teams.

Just like in sports where winning isn’t so much a matter of luck as it is of strategy, winning the sales game means fine-tuning the team for success.

Bottom Line

There is an old management saying that states “what gets measured gets done.” Start measuring your team and watch the number of wins increase.