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Practice Schedules: A Perfect Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 20, 2019

I started this series of articles by relating my experience coaching football to selling.  It is my goal now each week to focus in on one of the 9 football related tools that can be applied to selling.

Our first, the practice schedule, is one of the most important tools used by football teams.  Overall, practice is an essential contributing factor to success on the football field. 

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It is important to note that, in football:

  • Understanding your opponent is critical
  • Reviewing practice and game performance is needed
  • A team has to have a solid strategy in all aspects of the game
  • Great athletes must be able to make game time adjustments and decisions
  • And yes, an occasional good bounce can be additive

At the end of the day, however, improving skills, practicing the game plan, and getting feedback from the practice sessions are crucial for success!

4 Minute Practice Makes Perfect Video

But back in the day, before I retired from coaching, we used to have 30 practice sessions before each game.  Each session was at least 2 hours. For every hour on the field, there was at least 1 hour in the classroom and at least 1 hour of film study or playbook study.  This was all for about 8-10 minutes of actual action on the field.

How much time are you spending practicing to improve your sales management skills?  How much time are you spending coaching your people to improve their craft?  And don’t tell me:

  • We hire / I have experienced people
  • We hire adults — we expect them to do what they need to do to get better
  • I’ve been at this for 20+ years, I think I know what I’m doing

Tell that to the greatest coaches of any sport in the game and they will tell you how wrong you are to believe that experience, or years in the profession, means that less time is needed in practice.

Tell that to Tom Brady.

Now let’s talk about practice as a sales productivity tool.

Malcom Gladwell’s oft quoted “10,000 hours” of practice to become expert in a skill may in fact be more of a platitude than a fact.  What appears to be a fact is that there are contributing factors to practice that are connected to competency and eventual expertise in a skill.

One of those contributing factors is a feedback loop“A feedback loop [provides]…the necessary information for adaptive measures to achieve the desired levels of teaching and learning objectives.”  Brunel University Study

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have delivered workshops and focus on the concept of an ideal week in all of our training programs.  To support the ideal week, we help our clients develop their ideal week.  Within that ideal week is time allocated for practice.  Regardless of the outcome of the "10,000 hours" debate, there is no debate about implementing practice as a requirement to improve a skill or performance across the board.

What should practice look like?

Your practice should include the following sales practice components:  Drill for Skill, Role-Playing and Strategy Development.  To accomplish these exercises, you should have pre and post call checklists as well as phone call scorecards and data from your sales huddles. All of these data points act as ‘video’ of how you or your people are actually performing. Using the data and real time information allows you to make your coaching and practice sessions more intentional.

To find out more about the ideal week and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/sales-productivity-tools

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For those of you that like to do the research on the research:

Practice Makes Perfect – Science Daily

Deliberate Practice – Business Insider

How To Learn any Skill With Your Own Weekly Plan – Kayla Mathews MUO Blog Post

 

 

Topics: practice, Sales Enablement, sales practice, creating new sales opportunities, football, sales and sports, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools

Why Sales Practice is Important

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Jan 13, 2016

Sales managers, why is it important to practice sales skills?

I watched two field goal kickers kick the ball in the closing minutes of two different games this past weekend. If you’re not a football fan, you probably don’t care about this but you may have heard about it. One kicker kicked a 35 yard winning field goal with 14 seconds left in the game. The other kicker missed a 27 yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the game. One team moved on the other went home.

I don’t know anything about the habits of these two kickers. I can only speak to the kickers I saw practice when I was at the University of Connecticut, the University of Cincinnati and Iowa State University. Greg Sinay, Rich Karlis and Alex Giffords. All three of them spent HOURS on the sideline during practice kicking. Kicking down the sideline, kicking into nets, kicking over goal posts. At the end of practice we would practice ‘special teams’ where the kickers would come onto the field and kick in ‘game like’ situations.

They were prepared to do their best when they were needed the most.

Unlike other position players kickers are called on maybe 3 to 6 times depending on the game. Also sometimes they are called upon to make a play that decides the game. Very rarely are other players ever put in that position.9723670_xxl_team_hands.jpg

How often are your sales people put in a position where they need to be at their very best? How often do you have them practice so that when that moment comes they can perform at their very best? How often do you create ‘game’ situations so that they are prepared for anything a prospect ‘throws’ at them?

Effective selling is a combination of:

  • An effective, consistent approach to the market
  • A strategy to conduct sales calls that focuses on
    • Uncovering the ‘have to fix’ problems of the prospect
    • Providing a solution that fits the requirements of the prospect
    • Presenting a solution so that the prospect values the value proposition
    • Asking for and getting a decision
  • Sales skills
  • Sales DNA

With the right sales DNA, a solid approach to the market and a strategy that is proven to be effective the only piece to the puzzle left is the set of skills piece.

Like all physical and mental skills, sales skills can and will deteriorate over time if not honed. Borrowing from president Lincoln who when asked what he would do if he had 4 hours to cut down a number of trees he responded that he would spend time sharpening the axe. Abe was known as the ‘rail splitter’. He knew how to wield an axe, but he realized that occasionally the axe needed sharpening.

To improve the productivity, the effectiveness and the efficiency of your sales team make sure you spend 1 on 1 time with the and time during sales meetings to practice perfecting sales skills.

 

Additional resources:

On-Line Library Demo - On Demand Sales Training Content

Talent AssessmentOn-Line Sales Evaluation

Sales Management ResourcesSales Management Environment Certification

Call / Text Tony – 513 226 3913

Topics: sales practice, highly successful sales people

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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