By Matt Nettleton
On July 30th of this year, the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts will go to training camp. This will signal the start of a four week period of intense practice designed to force the players to focus on what they need to do to improve their ability to play football. But it seems like a waste of time to me, after all–most of these players have spent at least the last eight years of their life working on their craft in highly competitive games. Plus, the Colts have won more than any other professional team during this time. What on earth could these people think they are going to learn?
Not surprisingly, on the first day of camp they will most likely hear the famous Vince Lombardi quote that almost all coaches use to start training camp.
“Gentlemen, this is a football.”
This beginning signals to all of the players on the field that success in football, much like success in sales, is all about a complete and single minded focus on doing the little things right and being certain that you are executing the fundamentals.
As we work with our clients, there is nothing more satisfying than watching their eyes light up as they realize that training in sales is no different than training for sports–or any other kind of activity. They realize that the system they have started to learn is nothing more than a simple series of behaviors, attitudes and techniques that can dramatically increase their chances of closing more business and making more money. They also realize why training is an ongoing process, with our typical client working with us for four to six years. Because no matter how simple the behaviors, attitudes and techniques are, there is a long road from not knowing what you should do to doing what you should automatically.
I don’t believe that practice makes perfect. In fact, in football and in sales there is no perfect. However, in every professional field we do know that practice makes progress. When you look at your sales force, are they practicing? And by practice, I mean really working to systematically improve their ability to sell using ongoing reinforcement coupled with repetition and measurement of results? Or are they out seeing as many people as they can, hoping that what they are doing is right?
Next time you watch Peyton Manning throw a seemingly easy four-yard touchdown pass, be sure that you pause and realize that for every minute that Peyton plays on a field during the games he spends more than 15 minutes on a field practicing–which leads me back to my question: when you look at your sales force, are they practicing?
Matt Nettleton is an Associate at Trustpointe, Inc., a Sandler Training franchise in Indianapolis, Indiana.