Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Lessons Learned From Coaching Kids - May 16, 2015

It was late to bed last night and up early this morning. I’m doing a little work from my hotel room in Columbus, Ohio where later today I’ll be coaching my son and his teammates in the Ohio Middle School Lacrosse State Tournament. I’m excited for the boys to participate. They have worked hard since late February preparing for this weekend. It’s not to say they’ve taken the rest of the season lightly, and there are still a few weeks to go, but this weekend eyes from around Ohio will be on them. And, to a certain extent, on me too. My mind started to wander back to work, my sales team, and on to lessons I’ve learned over the years. You see, much can be taken from coaching experiences, as a youth sports coach, and as a sales manager.


Like sales, you plan ahead and work closely with each individual and the team as a whole, in an effort to be the most prepared in the marketplace. You study your competition, learn the in’s & outs of your own company and services (or products), and you practice. You practice your pitch; you practice what to say when overcoming objections; and, you practice how to best interact with your prospect to “get the job done” – closing the deal.


When coaching youth sports, much like sales, you work hard to prepare your team for the playing field. You study the competition and how your team will match up. You plan ahead by working with individuals and groups to make sure they understand how to face challenge. And, you guide by experience. Regardless of the age, patience is a virtue in youth coaching, just the same as it is a virtue in sales management.


Of course, not everyone may feel you are doing a good job, both in management and coaching. On a personal level I’ve been coaching lacrosse for a number of years. There has never been a season where a parent or player has not complained. They don’t like the amount of playing time their son is receiving. They feel their son should be on the A team and not the B team. Their son is a superstar now and will certainly play NCAA Division I…of course he’s only in 7th grade currently. Forget that fact that there are 42 other boys in the program. Forget the fact that planning for the season started 5 months before the first practice. Forget the fact that I am a volunteer and trying very hard to accommodate everyone. The reality is, it is impossible to make everyone happy all of the time, and the same is true in sales management.


No matter what the size of your sales team, whether you have 2 or 22 sales reps, you will not make everyone happy all of the time. You must remain true to the team and plan not to play favorites but work hard to treat everyone equally. You must accept that, like youth sports, you will have some sales people that are A players and some sales people that are B players, but that is life. Giving each sales person or player an equal opportunity to succeed is all that you can do and all that should be expected of you.


Sales management, like coaching, can be emotional. You want the best for your team, for all team members, and to avoid disappointment. Working toward this goal is a step in the right direction as you become a leader in your organization. But, accepting too the reality that not everyone will be happy all of the time, is also part of being a leader. Be open and available to your team at all times. Do not shut them out. Treat the team member in a mature manner and listen to their concerns. Keep in mind that they may still be a B player, you can help them be successful still, and avoid disappointment down the road.


There are many similarities to being a coach and a sales manager. The best advice I can offer you is this…try to always be supportive, try to ignore the negative commentary, and work hard to stay true to your principals. Give everyone an equal opportunity for success.

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