Today the Seattle Seahawks are getting down to the wire in terms of getting ready for the big game on Sunday. As I watched the team’s great run this year, I noticed some interesting parallels between top NFL coaches Pete Carroll and highly successful sales executives in terms of ensuring victory.
Because we’re based here in Washington State, we’ve definitely kept an eye on how Carroll has created a culture of winning, gaining a window into how passionate leaders like him convey that desire to their team.
I’ve observed that Carroll follows an extremely disciplined regimen, keying in on a number of fundamentals: Practice; watch tape; coach the different squads; adjust; fire up the team; go out and win.
Here are 5 ways you can model your sales leadership after Pete Carroll:
1. Practice makes perfect: Carroll is pretty consumed with the importance of practice, and makes the sessions as close to the real thing as possible. He pipes in crowd noises, invites fans and stops for TV time outs. If your reps don’t role- play, they can only get experience by sitting across from a live prospect – not good. They need to be constantly practicing their pitches and sales demos.
2. Defense wins championships: Like Carroll, you need to know your competitor’s “offensive squad” as well as you do your own, by gathering intelligence until their strengths, weaknesses, go-to-market strategy and value props are second nature. Then you’ll know how they plan to come at you and you’ll be ready with the killer counter-strike.
3. Data-driven performance: Top NFL coaches obsess over stats to help them determine the best approach in any given scenario. A sales organization also needs to use data to determine its strategy. For instance, if a rep can’t convert late-stage opportunities, it’s a much different problem than one who can’t transition cold prospects to opportunities. Tap the power of your CRM and use the analytics to rotate personnel where they are best positioned for success.
4. Adjustment in real time: Top NFL coaches know how to be more efficient and agile than opponents. They continually check stats and make on-field observations to exploit weaknesses, adjust their game and make strategic substitutions. You need to be constantly in tune with your team, making changes as needs and demands evolve. This could mean moving someone from sales to account management, or developing a process for ensuring that marketing is passing the right leads to the right reps.
5. Motivate the players: Carroll is great at firing up his team, sharing the vision, the goal and the passion, getting them to buy into it, then having them run out onto the field and mow the other guys down.
On the sales side, this happens both at the beginning of the “season” with sale kickoffs and in ongoing meetings and events. Some motivational tactics: Play a rep’s favorite song over the PA when they close a deal, or post a constantly updated leaderboard.
While your sales team won’t be broadcast to a global TV audience and people won’t be organizing house parties and cooking chili to watch them, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from Carroll’s coaching expertise. Take a page from his playbook so you can up your game and take it to the other team!