Editor’s note: Today’s timely guest post comes from Henry Schuck, co-founder and CEO of the sales intelligence and data firm DiscoverOrg.
As the Seattle Seahawks get ready for the big game on Sunday, I noticed some interesting parallels between what top NFL coaches like Pete Carroll and highly successful sales executives do to ensure victory.
Here in Washington State we’ve kept an especially keen eye on how Carroll has created a culture of winning, and how passionate leaders like him convey that desire to their team.
Carroll follows a disciplined regimen that keys on the fundamentals: Practice; watch tape; coach the squads; adjust; fire up the team; go out and win.
Here are five ways you can model your sales leadership after Pete Carroll:
- Practice, practice, practice: Carroll is a zealot on the importance of practice, and makes the sessions feel like the real thing. He pipes in crowd noises, invites fans and stops for TV timeouts. If your reps don’t role-play, they can only get experience by sitting across from a live prospect — not good. They need to be constantly practicing their pitches and sales demos.
- Play great defense: Just like Carroll’s Seahawks, you need to know your competitor’s “offensive squad” like the back of your hand, gathering intel until their strengths, weaknesses, go-to-market strategy and value props are second nature. Then you’ll know how they plan to come at you and be ready with the killer counterstrike.
- Uses data to drive performance: NFL coaches obsess over stats to help them determine the best approach in any given scenario. A sales organization also needs to use data to determine its strategy. If a rep can’t convert late-stage opportunities, it’s a much different problem than one who can’t transition cold prospects to opportunities. Use your CRM religiously and rotate personnel where they will pay off the most.
- Make adjustments in real time: Top NFL coaches know how to be more efficient and agile than opponents. They continually check stats and make on-field observations to exploit weaknesses, adjust their game and make strategic substitutions. You need to be constantly in tune with your team, making changes as needs and demands evolve. This could mean moving someone from sales to account management, or developing a process for ensuring that marketing is passing the right leads to the right reps.
- Keep the troops motivated and passionate: Carroll is great at firing up his team, sharing the vision, the goal and the passion, getting them to buy into it, then having them run out onto the field and mow the other guys down.
On the sales side, this happens both at the beginning of the “season” with sale kickoffs and in ongoing meetings and events. Some motivational tactics: Play a rep’s favorite song over the PA when they close a deal, or post a constantly updated leaderboard.
OK, so your sales team won’t be broadcast to a global TV audience, and people won’t be organizing house parties and cooking chili to watch them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from Carroll’s handling of the Seahawks so you can up your game and march down the field to victory!
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