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7 Ways Top Performing Sales Reps Resemble Those Who Play Team Sports

Fascinating conversation with a sales leader several months back. They’d just turned over 1/3 of their sales team because their numbers were ‘speaking to us in strange ways’. Determined to avoid making the same mistake again, they ran some tests. The aim was to profile the attributes of their top performers + recruit to those attributes. One of the key attributes: coachability. Their firm continues to outperform industry norms + attract investments.

Last week, in a client launch session around a new offering, sales staff gave enthusiastic thumbs up to our Amacus-enabled approach. Then said, hang on: this is a new way to engage with buyers and we’re not comfortable; we need to practice. Their boss, a former collegiate football player, said: ‘perfect. We’ll hold practice sessions next week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.’

What’s the dot-connection? Coachability + practice habits are two of the eight attributes we’re seeing of top performers on top B2B sales teams. Each are attributes that those amongst us who’ve played or coached team sports may recognize:

  1. Top performers are coachable + coached. They want, demand, and get feedback. Just like in the NFL.
  2. They practice to perfect.They’re never satisfied with ‘good enough’.
  3. They’re continuous learners always looking for ways to better their game.
  4. They don’t see themselves as failures when something fails. As learners, they ‘fail forward’.
  5. Their hunger to learn is insatiable. They’re driven to accelerate their own learning.
  6. They’re not afraid to try new things. It’s part of their craft. There’s a sense that there’s no ‘status quo’.
  7. They constantly practice core skills. The Spanish national soccer team, for instance, has one drill they practice at every practice. It instills the team skill of ball possession. Brazilians grow up playing mini-soccer games that create 6 times more touches on the ball per hour and reward skills learned to speedy automaticity.

    What’s the equivalent of these core soccer skills in sales? Always be helping. The buyer. Each other.

    There’s so much to learn + perfect. On top performing teams, seems it’s a team sport.

++++++++++++
This list isn’t meant to be the bible on *all* the attributes of top B2B sales performers. Just ones that we’ve been seeing recently. Which ones have I missed that you’ve been noticing? I’m especially curious about any others that may connect what’s known about athletic performance with what’s being learned about sales performance.

OCT 7/13: Thanks to Kirk Owens [ ‏@KOfromdChi ] for suggesting this list of resemblances should also include:
- game planning
- knowledge of strengths & weaknesses
- reliance on teammates

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One Response to 7 Ways Top Performing Sales Reps Resemble Those Who Play Team Sports

  1. David Doyle says:

    Hi John, well put! It’s important to see our efforts and failures in context – From a distance so to speak. It’s important food for thought, thank you.

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