The Dave Kurlan Blog – Understanding the Sales Force – has ben abuzz with comments about a youth baseball coach that made his team run wind sprints after they gave up a lead big enough to invoke the ‘mercy rule’. I won’t go any further into the comments made by others about Dave’s position. You can click here to follow that discussion. What I will talk about is this:
Consistency – As some of you know, I played college football at UConn from 1973 to 1977, coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1978 to 1980 and was the strength and conditioning coordinator for varsity athletics at Iowa State University from 1980 to 1983. In those years as an athlete and as a coach, this is what I witnessed and experienced. Those that had the greatest overall success in their athletic career were those that were the most consistent in everything they did.
As an example: We had two players - one a great running back and the other an above average lineman at Iowa State. The first was incredibly gifted, but never took the time to leverage his gifts. The other, while gifted, had to work extremely hard and had to consistently work at his skills, fitness and knowledge of the game to be a success. Both made it to the NFL. The running back had a very short career with spotty success at best. The other was the starting right tackle for the 1986 Superbowl Champion NY Giants. The difference in natural talent was made up by consistency in effort and execution to improve the skills and execute the behaviors needed to be successful at the highest level. The offensive lineman allowed himself to be held accountable to the little things that mattered while the superstar running back avoided all manner of management.
Motivation - Chris Campbell won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling in the 1986 Barcelona Olympics – he was 2 months shy of his 38th birthday. At that time, he was the oldest known medalist in Olympic wrestling. His motivation? He had made the 1980 Olympic team. But, for those of you old enough to remember or know enough history, the US boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest of the war in Afghanistan. So, Chris did not get the chance to wrestle. Two years later in the 1982 World Games, he beat the 1980 Olympic champion. As sweet as that victory was, it wasn’t an Olympic medal. I lost track of Chris for a while after I left Iowa State. Then… four years later, there he was on the Olympic podium.
Performance – This is what is actually done by an individual versus what is projected to get by that individual. My daughter, Alex, loves to perform. Now that she is working full-time as a recruiter for Aerotek, she doesn’t get the chance to perform on stage. If she thought she could make enough money performing (what she wants drives what she needs to do – work), that is what she would do.
I loved watching her perform. I was used to watching athletes and I could always tell the ones that “loved it”. They just had a look when they were performing - either in practice or in game situations. When Alex played basketball and volleyball, I never saw that look. The night she stepped out on the stage and started singing as the queen in Cinderella – I saw the look.
I have never asked her why she likes performing, so I don’t know her motivation about that. What I do know is this: When she had a great performance and she did her curtain call at the end of the show and the audience went wild, I saw a beaming look in her eyes and a shine on her face that is un-mistakable – the satisfaction of knowing she did her job well.
There was for her - and there is for your sales people - a direct correlation between performance and outcome. But, the thing to remember, the thing to understand is that the applause wasn’t just for that 90-minute performance when all eyes were watching and the lights were at their brightest. No, the applause – the outcome – is for all the hard work done when no one was watching and the lights were not on.
The same thing applies to the sales people you lead, coach and manage. And if you are not managing and coaching the day-in-and-day-out performance, then expecting applause at the end of the year is an un-validated expectation. Sure, someone might luck into one – the luck being the timing of the need and the decision to buy – but no true professional goes into a game, a match or an onstage performance counting on luck.
Last story. It’s about David Sandnaller. I remember listening to cassette tapes and hearing him tell a story about playing in a Pro-Am. He was paired with a pro that day and David went to the driving range early to get some practice swings in. He was swinging away with a bucket of balls by his side. Hit a ball, reach into the bucket, grab a ball, drop it and hit it. Repeat until bucket is empty. The pro comes up with 6 balls in his hands and a couple of clubs. David asked him, “Is that all the balls you’re going to hit?” The pro replied, “If you didn’t bring it (your game) with you, you won’t find it here.”
If your sales people are hoping to perform at their best without having done the work, then you can count on them not making the cut for the weekend rounds. As the old adage goes – Success only comes before work in the dictionary.
What does this have to do with all the buzz on Dave’s blog? It has everything to do with it. Dan thinks it is fine to just hit the big sale – pay the producer and not worry about all the other stuff that drives performance, consistency and results. Dan you are wrong. (Just in case you think I’ve lost track of my original 4 thoughts, here they are – Consistency, performance, performers and Dan is wrong)