- May 28, 2014
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
For the last 6 years, I have been coaching and/or managing youth baseball teams and personally coaching our son since he could stand. Monday, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching him during a baseball practice for a 12-and-under team that will be competing in Cooperstown later this summer. It’s a really big deal and it’s a very talented team.
It’s not just about the talent.
The coach of this team provided some very good, advanced coaching to this group of very coachable, extremely talented kids and he ran some terrific, fast-paced drills.
By comparison, the always likable kids on a typical regular season team have skills ranging from limited to all-star caliber and everything in between. On the regular season team, most practice time is devoted to baseball basics while not moving any faster than the speed of the average player.
Which players and on which teams do you think show the most improvement?
If you guessed the best players, you would be half correct. The best players, getting the advanced instruction on the travel teams, improve the most. Those same kids, on their regular season team, learn almost nothing new and aren’t challenged or pushed. Practice, and sometimes even the games, can be so boring for them that they don’t play their very best.
Translation from Baseball to Selling
If we translate all of that baseball to selling, the only two things that change are the activity and the age of the people being coached and trained.
In order for your best salespeople to improve, they need to be part of a group that won’t hold them back, allowing for more advanced, faster-paced skills training. They can be coached up very quickly if they get the right training and coaching at a pace that challenges them!
The Talent Warp
It is extremely difficult for some executives to understand this next point. Some refuse to acknowledge that it’s even possible. YOUR top salespeople, when compared with the rest of the sales population outside your industry, might only be B or C Players. It’s just not that unusual to discover that the top salespeople in some companies aren’t at the top because of their skills, but because of their accounts, their assigned territory, their expertise or tenure in the industry. It’s important to note that studies show you will get the best bang for your buck when you train your B’s!
When it comes to your less effective salespeople, it’s important to understand that not all of them CAN be coached up and most of them have hidden weaknesses that cause difficulties becoming comfortable with what they’re learning. That makes it nearly impossible for them to apply it in the field unless they are also getting extremely effective coaching from their sales managers. They struggle to change. That’s why some of your underachievers shouldn’t be trained at all. Some of them just shouldn’t be selling!
More on Baseball and Sales
If you like articles that use the baseball playing or baseball coaching analogies, then you may enjoy some of my other articles about baseball and selling: