Sales Leadership Lessons from the Boston Marathon

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:04 AM

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Monday is Marathon day in Boston; it’s an annual marathon hosted by the city of Boston, on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April, a state holiday in Massachusetts .  Other U.S. towns, like Lexington and Concord, hold big parades.

Recently, my colleague, Dave Kurlan, was flying out of Texas and sat next to Nina Kuscsik who was traveling to Boston for the big event. Thirty years ago, she won the first official women’s race of the Marathon. Along with the other women who competed that day, she will be recognized for her accomplishment and was invited to be one of the race “starters”.

She told Dave that physically preparing to run 26 miles isn’t a big challenge and that, with time and proper training, most people are capable of doing it. The hard part is preparing emotionally for such a grueling experience.

I’ve heard elite rock climbers say that when they climb, everything stops and a peace takes hold. Their mind slows down and their natural body rhythms kick in.

Analogously, how much time do you spend working on the mental toughness of your salespeople?  If you are like most sales leaders, the answer is, “Not nearly enough.”

Let’s turn the question around.  How often do you get emotionally-involved, i.e., frustrated or annoyed, when you work with your salespeople?  The answer for too many sales leaders is, “Too much.”

Ironically, the majority of sales leaders experience less of this problem when they are actually selling. Reasons for this include: they like selling, they feel less pressure, they are more comfortable as salespeople and they had more practice time being a salesperson.

If you believe in role-play and active sales coaching, then you know its value. The feedback is real-time.  You can demonstrate what questions could have been asked and how to ask them.  You’ll see how people respond under pressure.  You can work on identified areas for improvement.  Most importantly, you ensure practice time.

How much time do you spend dedicated to becoming a better sales leader?  How extensive is your peer network and do you continually work on honing your skills together?  What are you doing to reduce the impact of getting emotionally-involved in your coaching?

Best practice companies recognize the critical importance of developing their sales leaders. They understand that in our new economy, salespeople must make the shift from account manager to proactive hunter, from presenter to value-seller.

Make an investment in yourself and your company.  Attend our two-day Sales Leadership Intensive in May.  When you commit to your own growth and demonstrate this, your salespeople will respond better to their own development.

Topics: best sales management training, better sales outcomes, hiring salespeople, accurate sales assessment

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