Super Bowl Winning Coaching Secrets for Sales Leaders


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I’m sure I’ll be one of millions of bloggers writing about the Superbowl this morning, and there will be no shortage of folks singing the praises of New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Yeah, I’m from Jacksonville (some of you may remember his remarkable run here), so I have an affinity for this gentleman that started well before he signed his $21 mil contract and won his second ring.

Over the years, Tom has been maligned for being a strict disciplinarian. He’s been called Colonel Coughlin, a strict setter and reinforcer of rules and guidelines only military veterans could comprehend and appreciate. It should be no surprise that Coach Coughlin, at 65 the oldest coach to ever win a Superbowl, has been known to have difficulty relating to, connecting and communicating with younger players. If you are four minutes early to Colonel Tom’s meetings, the coach considers you late.

Tom doesn’t appear to be a ‘player’s’ coach. He has been faulted for being a compliance manager, which means he gives an order, HIS order, and failure to obey results in negative consequence. Giant’s stars Antrel Rolle and Ahmad Bradshaw once watched their teammates play on Sunday afternoon from the sideline as punishment for being late to a Coughlin team meeting the evening before.

You see, compliance management has an enemy. It’s called free will. People will always do what they believe is in THEIR best interest. That means a coach who tries to exert his will can expect pushback from his players, especially those hotshots with million dollar signing bonuses.

A player’s coach has been said to be someone who lets his or her players play, do their thing and control their game. The logic is, they know best what to do and how to do it. They own their performance. They should be in control. It is thought that players will play harder for coaches who let them control their own destiny.

So why was a compliance coach hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at mid-field Sunday night? Why wasn’t it a player’s coach?

Ah, but it was.

This is the brilliance of Tom Coughlin. He ended the season as he started it. I don’t know if any of you have read about Tom’s Saturday night Superbowl speech to his players, but it was about finishing. His words were all about what the players wanted to prove and do from the beginning, what they were doing for love, for family.

Tom is smart enough to define, early on, what the players believe in, what they play for, what they want. Is he a compliance coach? Absolutely. But what is he holding the players compliant to? That’s right. What THEY want as an outcome.

You see, the players may know the right thing to do. They may know it is best to plan to be at meetings early. They may know they have to work harder, practice longer, stay later and do extra drills to win a Superbowl. Unfortunately, many don’t have the self-discipline to always do the right thing. They do the quickest thing, the easiest thing.

That’s where Tom and coaches like him shine. It’s also where effective sales managers and sales coaches shine.

Just like Coach Coughlin, an effective sales coach clearly defines her sales rep’s goals first. What do they want? How much money do they want to make? What outcome have they bought in to? What are they dedicated to accomplish?

At the moment coaches understand what their people have taken ownership of, they have earned the right to manage by COMPLIANCE. They are simply holding the reps/players accountable for their commitments to themselves. They are helping by providing the discipline reps may lack. Yep, the consequences of failing to obey an order may hurt, but failure to apply the self-discipline to hit an income goal or win a Superbowl hurts far worse. Ask all the NFL players who watched from home Sunday night. Ask all the sales reps who know they let themselves and their families down by not holding themselves accountable to the right selling behaviors. Trust me, at this moment they wish they had a Coach Coughlin.

So rail on Tom and sales managers like him all you want. The reality is, they are the ones holding the trophies. When all is said and done, they have proven themselves to be the true player’s coaches.

And Coach Coughlin, can you come back to Jacksonville please? Coach Del Rio was a player’s coach…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Nicols
Bob Nicols serves as Founder and CEO of AXIOM. He has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN.


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