So I am shocked that I haven’t read any articles about Nick Saban and his process as the Head Football Coach at the University of Alabama. He was featured on the CBS program 60 Minutes Nov 3 and I refrained from writing about it because I was certain so many others would. But they haven’t so I can’t help myself.
Coach Saban is known for his discipline, his fierce attention to detail and his focus on getting all the activity and behavior goals right. It is commonly known as “The Process”. He does not focus on the outcome, nor does he let his team focus on it. And that is because he knows that the outcome goal (wins vs losses) will take care of itself if the team takes care of the activity or behavior goals.
In football, they would be focusing on executing a block correctly, running a route perfectly, passing the ball on time, reading a defense and adjusting accordingly, and the list goes on and on. They know that if they do every single activity to perfection the score of the game will take care of itself. And Coach Saban has been proven right. They have won three national championship titles in four years and are currently ranked #1 with a good shot at winning a fourth title. It is unprecedented. Then why doesn’t every other team do the same thing? The answer is that it is hard.
Most individuals are focused on the outcome goal. The win or loss, the score and in sales it’s closed business. I have written about outcome goals before. As leaders of companies and sales teams we are so interested in closed business that we neglect to focus on the activities and behaviors that will actually predict success. Just because we want our salespeople to close more business and we ask them to do so, doesn’t mean they can actually do it. We need to focus our efforts on the activities that will produce those results. We need to be disciplined like Coach Saban with regard to focusing on “The Process”. What are all the little things that the salespeople need to do well to have consistent, repeatable success in a game? If you are managing the sales team, are you holding them accountable to improving in those areas? If you have a manager managing the team are you certain he or she is holding them accountable?
Sales managers or Presidents acting as Sales Managers need to know what the specific behaviors and activities are that each salesperson needs to do well every day. He or she needs to hold the salesperson accountable to doing enough of those behaviors and doing them well.
Let’s talk about practice. College football players practice up to 20 hours a week as a group to put them in the best position to execute in the game. Many players put in additional hours on their own. If a football game lasts between 3 and 4 hours, that means that, at a minimum, the football player is practicing 5x more than he is playing the game. How much time is your sales team putting in at practice? Any? Yet we still expect them to execute perfectly in a selling situation. For most salespeople the time in front of the prospect is their practice.
Most sales management could benefit from instituting a little bit of Coach Saban’s disciplined approach to getting the little things right. Could your sales team benefit from a focus on getting the right behaviors and activities right?