Important Lessons From Gene Hackman About Winning More Sales

by Cheryl Powers

In the movie Hoosiers, coach Norman Dale has led his team to the regional finals and is delivering a pre-game motivational speech. He knows these guys are excited. He knows they are nervous. He knows they are preoccupied with both hopes of winning and fears of losing. And he wants them centered, focused, and present to the game they are about to play.

Isn’t that how it is for your sales management and every salesperson on your team? Every day they are responsible for winning the game. They get nervous and excited. They become preoccupied with winning or losing, rather than maintaining a clear, calm focus on the process. They are distracted by the noise of the game. They sometimes forget why they are there and may not have a plan for their calls or meetings.

Coach Dale's reminder to focus on the fundamentals and not move to the next step until you’ve finished the step you’re on is spot on. But this excellent advice presumes two very important things about your sales organization:

1) That you have given your salespeople fundamentals to follow.

Do you have a methodology?

Are you running drills on the specifics?

Are you holding your team accountable to those fundamentals?

2) That you have a sales process with clearly defined steps.

Can you name the steps?

Can they name them?

Do they know why they are on the step and when they are ready to move to the next one?

Do each of your salespeople execute them the same way, in the same order every time?

Can they tell you what selling step they are on?

More importantly, are they telling you regularly in your daily huddles, weekly meetings, and scheduled sales coaching sessions?

If you answered "no" to these questions, you are not alone. Many companies struggle greatly in this area. Salespeople tend to be on their own, running their own plays and hoping to land a big one someday. And sales managers tend to be busy selling – trying to make up for lack of sales – and just don’t put in the coaching time. Most haven't been trained to coach at all.

But if you don’t have a sales methodology and a sales process your salespeople are probably winging it and losing sales opportunities. And nobody can afford to do that for too long. How much opportunity cost are you leaving to chance?

Consider the shape your company would be in if you let your accounting department wing it, cherry picking who and when to send invoices. Or worse, allowing each person in the department to follow a different accounting methodology. What about production or manufacturing? Most CEOs I know would go ballistic if their managers and employees in other departments didn’t follow a closely managed process. Yet those same CEOs often allow their sales departments to make it up as they go along hoping that if the carrot doesn’t work the stick will do the trick. It usually doesn’t.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments below or send me an email at [email protected] Try our FREE sales candidate assessment here. Learn about Guaranteed Sales Hire here.

(c) Copyright Cheryl Powers. All rights reserved.

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