Broken Windows Sales Training


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As tribute to James Q. Wilson, who passed away this month at the age of 80, this article attempts to highlight some of the genius behind this political scientist’s Broken Windows Theory brought out in the early 1980’s.

I’m no expert on the theory, but like many, I read it and it just made sense. Wilson introduced the theory as a means to augment community policing. The suggestion was that one single broken window is a suggestion that no one cares… so breaking more windows costs nothing.

The argument made sense and police agencies and politicians responded with tactical changes to support the local communities, especially in urban areas.

To me, the theory goes well beyond crime and enforcement. It is a philosophy that applies to every area of life – including sales management. As Emily Dickinson said so long ago: “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.” Or, the pithier proclamation from earlier in time: “Nip it in the bud.”

As a sales executive, do you manage results, activities or both? Do you manage events, or just trends? The answer, of course, like most things in life, lies in the details. The devil is always in the detail.

But here’s the rub. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

In officiating circles amongst the soccer community, it is known as preventative refereeing. I officiate some great games as a soccer referee; in fact, this week alone I am officiating a CIF State High School Championship Game and a Regional Quarterfinal. These can be heated games, where just about anything can happen.

But, I’m extremely confident that the games, as intense as they may be at times, will be sporting and fair. Why? Because I will establish a connection with the players, a partnership of sorts with the coaches and everyone will see me as being true to the game.

Don’t get me wrong, I get yelled at as much as any referee. Soccer is a passionate game. But, if players start to take the wrong approach, or I smell something brewing, then I am going to manage it from a preventative point of view.

The same approach I use as a soccer official serves me as a sales executive. Why? It serves me as a sales executive because my sales team knows that I care that we get it right; that I’m connected to all of the activities and processes they are managing. And based on experience and wisdom, I’m able to help them ferret out issues early and expose bad news early… so that we can pivot the opportunity or move on.

I’m no expert on the broken windows theory, but I still leverage the mentality to ensure my sales teams are focused and accountable.

Empowered Sales offers custom programs for sales success. We leverage deep personal experience, gems from industry icons, classic sales methodologies and innovative practices to empower your sales organization for sales success… and that includes gems like the Broken Windows Theory.

Thank you James Q Wilson. Rest in Peace.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.


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