We’ve descended into total “ball” season, folks: football, baseball, the other “football” affectionately known as soccer, and even volleyball. In our house with two sporty kids, right now we’re either playing a game, practicing for a game, watching a game, or talking about a game. I’m writing this post after my daughter’s volleyball practice tonight where I have the privilege of being the “coach”.
I don’t know much about coaching recreational league volleyball for 10 and 11-year-old girls so I took the approach that I take with sales (because everything for me is selling):
“Coach each player on how to contribute their strengths, practice, and review, strive for incremental improvement, and provide individualized feedback and support.”
Even now that we’ve started playing games, we still practice – the girls are conditioned to discuss where we need to drill, attack, and practice, to not make the same mistakes that give up points in the next game. Funny enough – now that they’re conditioned to this coaching, they’re actually taking feedback and improving DURING games.
All this to set up a sports analogy for you (which, of course, you knew was coming, you clever urchins):
Success in “Selling” – like all competitive performance endeavors – takes consistent practice and coaching.
You might be nodding your head and agreeing here, but if you’re a business owner that sells, a director of sales, or a sales professional . . . just how much practice and coaching are you really committed to?
- Are you a business owner that’s constantly chasing your tail, doesn’t prepare before networking or meetings, and has no consistent go to market strategy or sales process?
- Are you a sales director that provides training as “an event” (usually involving a new reporting tool, technology, or order system) instead of individual performance coaching as a continuous improvement process?
- Are you a sales pro that usually “wings it”, leverages your “great personality”, and, “whew”, has an okay closing rate?
Hmmm . . . are you sure you’re practicing and being coached to perform? Because it’s my experience both on the sales pro side and in my current seat that most people would rather eat a box of nails than practice “selling.” They feel vulnerable to being exposed as “less than perfect” or “a fraud” or whatever insecure nonsense I’ve heard over the past decade.
So, here’s where this sales/sports performance analogy really struck me – the last thing I said to my girls tonight at the end of practice,
“When you mess up during practice, it’s a mistake. When you mess up in a game, those are points you’ve handed the other team.”
This is why we practice. This is why I yell at those girls like a drill sergeant and make them do the same things over and over again. I do the same thing with sales teams and business owners. When you mess up in practice, I can tell you what you did incorrectly. You get a do-over. You get 10, 20, or 30 do-overs – until we break the bad habits or replace them with better technique. You can improve in increments to continuously improve your performance – one play, one point, one game, one season at a time. Or, in this case, one phone call, one email, one meeting, one proposal, one customer . . . at a time.
When you don’t practice, don’t train – when there is no coach there with an outside perspective to help you understand where and how to improve your performance – you leave the door wide open for your competitors to outsmart, outplay, and outperform you. Competitors can be the newest company on the block with more funding, a flashier technology, and a lower price than you, or competitors can be the status quo and apathy. Either way, they’re working hard at beating you or keeping you out.
The top level athletes in every category have coaches and they STILL practice – Serena Williams, Rory McIlroy, Usain Bolt, Mia Hamm . . . they all practice religiously and relentlessly because this is their job and their craft. They listen to their coaches – heck even have multiple coaches for specific things – all in the pursuit of improving the small things that cost them plays, and points, and games, and seasons.
Practice and the pursuit of continuous improvement helps build muscle memory and good habits that increase reaction time and better responses. Everyone wants to win the game or score the sale, but professionals dedicated to continuous improvement are the most successful against their competition.
Of course we expect top athletes to have coaches and practice religiously – I mean, after all, their job is to perform and they’re compensated for their performance!
Oh, wait . . . that sounds familiar, right?
YOU are compensated for performance.
Start acting like it.
Get over those insecurities about practicing. Decide to “go pro” and work with a coach.
Until next time, stop hoping, start PERFORMING!
PS – Do you need sales improvement coaching? (Shake your head yes, right now). Of course you do! Do you have a sales coach or a strategy for consistent improvement? Let’s talk about what that looks like. Contact us and we’ll figure out the right fit for you (drill sergeant or a slightly less intense version)!