My son is a young soccer goalkeeper. He is passionate about his sport, just like many salespeople are passionate about their "sport." He works with his current team's coach, and separately with a goalkeeping coach. There are great lessons from each coaching style.
What You Did Wrong
One coach focuses on what players are doing wrong. He walks up and down the sideline yelling anytime he feels they should have done something differently than what they did. If a player gets beat by the opposing player, he screams "That was your guy." Maybe the coach thinks the player didn't know he messed up. During practices, the team tends to do the exact same routine. At games, you never hear "Great pass," or "Great decision."
What Went Well - And Where and Why to Make Adjustments
The goalkeeper coach starts each session with a discussion of the trouble spots from the prior week. During the training session, he shows the players what they did right, and how and why to make adjustments. It might sound like "You tracked the ball well with your eyes. Your footwork was solid, your general position was good. But, look at your hands. Why is that position not ideal?" He engages the players to discover what they could do better, and ensures they understand the reason behind each move. He praises them when they succeed, and he teaches when they fail. He only expresses disappointment when they lose focus or don't give 100%.
This past weekend, my son made two saves on break-away plays against the other team en route to a shutout. I said to him after the game "Great saves!" He said "If my hands were in the right shape on the second one, I would have caught it." His goalkeeper coach has taught him the skills to evaluate and improve himself at each interaction.
What does this teach us about business?CEOs and executives often complain about a lack of sales, or simply yell at their team about a lack of performance. When teams fail, several reasons could be the cause:
- Lack of skills or training
- Lack of strategy or direction
- Lack of initiative (which can be a result of frustration from the prior two reasons)
- Lack of anything of value to sell (which is a favorite excuse, but rarely true)
Our Team Discounts Too Much
Everyone knows what to do if their clothes catch on fire. Yep - You Stop-Drop-and Roll. If you asked everyone on your team, they would give the same answer. Ask them the three things they would do if faced with pricing pressure. You'll get different answers across the board. Train your team on a simple process to combat pricing pressure. If you don't mentor them on how to address pricing pressure, they might just STOP what they are doing, DROP your price, and ROLL over. Next week's article will detail a process to deal with pricing pressure.
We Need More Meetings/Proposals/Activity
Be careful what you wish for. Simply wishing for more meetings (just like wishing for more goals) is not the answer. As the linked article points out, take the time to understand why your ideal customers would need what you are selling. Define the right targets and strategy to pursue specific opportunities. Military snipers spend most of their time figuring out how to get to the right target at the right time. Just shooting randomly doesn't get the job done.
Which Coach Are You?
Do your players feel like they have the support and guidance they need to succeed, or are they just hoping they won't get yelled at this week? If you are yelling at your team, read Are Your Employees Getting Dumber and What Is That Costing You.
If you take the time to develop their skills and put them in a position to make great plays, you might be in a position to celebrate many victories. The next time your team loses a game, figure out how you could better prepare the team for the next match. More importantly, when you win a contest, review what led to the success, and discuss changes that could improve the next pursuit.
What is the greatest sales frustration for you and your team? Share your thoughts, and you might just get an answer that can help.