As per my last blog, I believe sales are a lot like sports. Sales leadership is a lot like sports leadership. To the outsiders who aren’t in the game it is a mystery.
Successful sales leadership and leading a sports team are similar. That is why you see so many former athletes get in the sales game. They like the competitiveness, the hunt, the thrill of the win.
Like a coach, you will have a variety of players on your team. The newest hot shot rookie, the grizzled veteran hanging on, superstars and third stringers will all be part of your team. And how you deal with each individually and the team as a whole will determine a winning or losing season. When you look at championship teams, you will see each of the stereotypes I listed as a part of the mix. So how do you get them to gel into a team that vies for the championship year after year?
By two things; treating them all the same, but meeting their individual needs just that way, individually. You have to create a system that people understand and can work in without making them lock up from confusion.
I once played for an all-star baseball team that on paper was the clear favorite to win the national championship. There was a great mix of talent that looked unbeatable. But the coach put in a system of signals and plays that were so complex every game was an adventure of miscues. The team as a whole underachieved greatly because not all the players knew the system.
Your sales rules and system must be able to be understood by everyone on your team so they can make the right decisions most of the time. In other words, the consistent six-foot pass.
Yet you must treat each person on your team individually inside that system and help them in whatever way they need it. Not as Prima Donnas, but as they are, people with different needs to get over a variety of different challenges.
That may mean you become the person who teaches a new rep your system, or the coach showing the person with little sales experience how to get meetings. It might mean you’re helping someone develop relationships with the service team they interact with, or the counselor who listens to them struggle with a personal issue. It might mean being the strict parent helping them get focused and holding them to the necessary tasks, or the inspirer showing them the possibilities.
Whatever they need as an individual to succeed, you need to find a way to deliver so that they can. And that everything inside a system they can all succeed in if they want to.
That is your goal in sales leadership.