What Sales Coaches Can Learn from Baseball Coaches Part Six


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Sales Leadership,Sales Transformation,Sales Management,Sales Coaching,Journey to Sales TransformationIn The Journey to Sales Transformation, crafty old messenger Benjamin Delaney directs Chief Sales Officer Phillip Evan Hawthorne’s sales transformation journey. Ben reveals truths of becoming a trusted advisor and partner to his customers through observations and stories. In this sixth of a series of excerpts Ben discusses why tools alone do not transform the sales process.

a continuation What Sales Coaches Can Learn from Baseball Coaches Part One, Part Two , Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five

“So I’ve got goals, gaps, root causes for failure, and fixes. Anything else to add to the list?”

“Yep, one more thing. The last thing a good coach does is to evaluate the player’s performance the next time he bunts to make certain improvement is happening. Is he committed to bunting when the coach gives him the signal?” Ben asked as he nodded toward the third base coach. “Does he show he has the knowledge to bunt by squaring properly and holding the bat right? Does he demonstrate the skill to bunt by pushing the ball down and getting it to roll about ten feet out and within the baselines? If he does, the corrective action worked. If those things don’t happen, there’s more that needs to be done to change his behavior.”

“So now I see five steps in this management process,” Phillip said. “Setting goals, exposing gaps in performance, figuring out the root causes for failure, determining what needs to be done to fix the problem, then evaluating performance. It’s like a continuum, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is, son. If your managers apply it, they’ll make the transition from being a lousy Coach Dillon to an effective Coach Cullen. It will be the difference when it comes to sales transformation.”

“I’m starting to get it, Ben.” Phillip looked down at his notes, then over to Coach Cullen. “Our managers have to be better coaches.”

“That’s exactly right, Phil. The key to a successful sales transformation will be how it’s managed.” Ben reached over and tapped Phillip’s note pad. Phillip grabbed his pen.

“The real impact from what we’ve been talking about will only happen when sellers and managers all get better at what they do. Just like Coach Dillon, some companies rely on classroom learning by itself when there just isn’t enough time to get it done in the short time the students are there. These little baseball camps, just like most sales training, last for a couple of days. I heard Coach Dillon yell at his boy last week, ‘Come on, Bobby, you just got back from batting camp and I brought you that brand new bat. Why can’t you hit that pitch?'”

Phillip gave Ben his guilty look again. “I’m not joking, Ben. I’ve heard my managers say ‘We sent you to training. We bought you new laptops and software. Now where are the results?'”

Ben looked at the sky and shook his head as if asking “Why?” Phillip looked up at the sky and shook his head right along with Ben.

“The truth is,” Ben continued, “changing people’s behavior and getting them better at what they do won’t happen from attending one baseball camp or a few training sessions. It’ll come with different skills at different times for different people, different players. Managers as coaches, even the senior people, have to be able to spot problems in a player’s game and help them improve. Your managers have to assess and support improvement day after day for each individual seller and manager that report up the chain.”

Excerpt from ‘The Journey to Sales Transformation: 25 AXIOMS for becoming a trusted partner to your customers.’ Available at AMAZON.com.

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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