Last time, I shared with you the first three ways that coaching my daughter’s youth baseball team was the same as coaching all of my sales teams throughout the course of my 16-year professional career. This time, I’m continuing down the list starting with No.4, in this second of a three-part series.
4) I was fortunate enough to have a handful of all-star caliber players on my team this season. The only way I knew to coach these sought-after and naturally talented kids was to “coach, guide and advise.” Ultimately, my assistant coaches and I tried our very best to just let them do their thing and enjoy watching them play the game.
How do you handle the top 1% all-star producers, who typically have the biggest egos and make the most money? It’s certainly not easy, but I’ve always worked hard to instill unto them to become and remain coachable even with their massive successes. In the end though, I’ve always tried to “coach, guide and advise” — help them tweak and re-tool, add value when I can, while keeping their basic and naturally gifted sales fundamentals intact as I sit back and enjoy watching them shine.
In other words, stay out of their way, and let your “all-stars” do what they do best.
5) The power of bubble gum and batting practice are forces so strong that they can shine light on even the dreariest of days. It was amazing to me how productive and focused my kids could be if I promised them bubble gum and told them they’d all have a chance to hit at the end of practice. This methodology, as opposed to if they aren’t productive and focused they’d have to run laps, reminds me of the quintessential question of the “carrot” or the “stick”?
I’ve always gotten more out of my sales professionals with the proverbial “carrot,” and I’ve always tried to shy away from the “stick.” I simply look at this from a perspective of how I would personally like to be coached. I too played youth baseball and was a top performing sales rep, and I always got more excited about the “bubble gum” and sales contest more than I ever got motivated to try and avoid the consequences of acting up at practice or missing my sales quota.
6) Kids at this age, for the most part, are very resilient. Most of them handle the wins with as much care as they do the losses. Sure, there are some, typically the more skilled players, who get more excited about the wins and take the loses harder than others, but all in all, I’ve found that everyone loves to celebrate the “W,” but luckily, most of our kids didn’t wallow in too much disappointment when we had to live with the “L.” They were just happy to play ball and keep the game fun.
How your sales professionals handle their personal wins is just as important as how they handle their individual losses (rejection). No one ever wants to lose a sale or be rejected, but the true professionals, the winners you enjoy having on your team, celebrate their “Ws” and quickly move on from their “Ls.” As a coach, your sales team wins and losses should always be handled the same way — celebrate your collective team efforts with excitement while moving on quickly from combined team defeat. Just ensure that your entire team learns from the loss, and everyone works smarter to avoid another one in the future.
7) In our league’s 8U youth baseball, it’s five innings or two hours, whichever comes first, and there’s a five-run maximum per inning. We’re the home team, it’s the bottom of the 5th, two outs, bases loaded, and my daughter Dylan steps up to the plate. We already scored four runs in the inning, so the most we could do is end the game in a tie — better than a loss. In comes the pitch … swing … base hit … Dylan’s hit ties the game and our team goes wild! You would have thought we had just won the Little League World Series. Winners love to compete, no matter what, and always leave it all out on the field.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of coaching and leading the No.1 sales team for the largest Fortune 500 company in my industry. What I can tell you about the competitive drive of all of my sales professionals is that, just like my little league team, winners love to compete, they’re always swinging for the fences, and in the end, as long as they leave it all out on the field, win or lose, I’m a proud coach.
Am I the most amazing coach ever? Still a work in progress, which is what drives me to work that much harder.