Sales Leadership Lessons from the Boston Marathon

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

3KZY Weather Update


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

Sales Leadership – How Our Fear Influences Our Outcomes

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 @ 16:09 PM


Last week I had the great fortune of being a participant in an excellent training program. The experience got me thinking about a sales leader’s ability to execute the correct strategies on a consistent basis.

You may have heard the term “the four deadly fears”. They are:

  • I fear failure: I need to succeed
    • Not taking real risks
    • Choosing the easy route
  • I fear being wrong: I need to be right
    • Avoiding situations where you might not know the answers
    • Never admitting that you made a mistake or that your were wrong
  • I fear rejection: I need to be accepted
    • Settling for less instead of risking rejection
    • Not speaking up
  • I fear being emotionally uncomfortable: I need to be comfortable
    • Only focusing on things you are an expert in
    • Not being vulnerable 

The question is not whether these affect us, but how?  If you want to raise the bar, consider how your emotions affect your behavior when managing your salespeople:


  • Won’t allow salespeople to experience mini-failures
  • Will carry too much of the load ourselves
  • May allow salespeople to chase bad deals for too long

 Being Wrong

  • Not taking responsibility for your part in the challenge
  • Will tell salespeople what to do vs. ask them
  • My take credit for ideas your salespeople have


  • May not encourage our salespeople to take risks
  • Will have trouble holding people accountable
  • May not direct when necessary

 Emotionally Uncomfortable

  • Won’t engage in management behavior that is outside our comfort zone
  • Will have trouble speaking the truth to our salespeople
  • May hide behind metrics
  • Can have superficial relationships with our salespeople

Sales leaders need to spend the majority of their time on coaching (pre-call strategy and post call debriefing), accountability (daily selling behavior), mentoring (growing their staff), motivating (providing an extra dose of urgency) and recruiting.

Investing the time necessary on these core activities is critical, insuring you are as effective as possible requires greater self-awareness. 

If you are wondering my challenges are with fear of failure and being wrong.

Topics: Culture, overcoming resistance, best sales management training, Expectations

Sales Leadership 2.0

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 10:09 AM

Do you have the skills, desire, willingness and expertise to build an exceptional sales organization? 

  • Do your sales leaders thrive on growing and developing people?
  • Are they highly passionate about the team’s success?
  • Can they remove their egos and accept mini failures?

Great sales leaders understand their limitations, leverage their strengths, ask for help and find ways to implement other people’s ideas.

The most common concern I hear is inconsistent execution. There are many causes of this, not the least of which is, do you have the right people in the right roles? Other issues include metrics, inspection, urgency and management skills. How effective is your sales leadership as coach, mentor, motivator, recruiter and driver of accountability and what are you doing to improve your salespeople’s skills?

In almost every interview I conduct the candidate says, “I’m a consultative salesperson”. The problem is they can’t explain the “how” and most of the time they don’t demonstrate they have the skills. What is your value proposition, can your sales team articulate it, is there a selling process, do they follow it and how effective are they at differentiating themselves from the competition and creating high value relationships?

External influences impact our attitude, bravery and clarity. Salespeople react differently to this; some need close monitoring and others a kick in the back side. Sales leaders must know their people better than they know themselves. Are you a great role model for attitude, bravery and clarity? What causes you to loss focus and where do you go for help?

Topics: best sales management training, Expectations, coaching salespeople, Management Assessment

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