Lessons from Baseball – Don’t Pull Your Best Players Off the Field

by | Apr 15, 2009

Today I had the opportunity to participate in Top Sales Expert‘s first roundtable discussion, “The Future of Professional Selling”. Contributors included Jill Konrath, Linda Richardson and of course, Jonathan Farrington. The roundtable was packed with insights valuable to any sales person, sales manager or business owner. Top Sales Experts is hosting weekly webinars focusing on specific sales topics. Click here to learn more about upcoming roundtables and webinars.


What got my attention was that one of the topics discussed at length was that of sales coaching. Apparently, there’s not enough of it going around. Sales people are still left to their own devices to a large degree.


Why? Mostly because most sales managers are former top producing sales people that were promoted into sales management as a reward for their success. The skills required to manage sales people and those required to go out and sell are wildly different. So, most new sales managers find themselves able only to share their own previous experiences with their charges as a way of teaching/coaching. They further lack the ability to analyze the mechanics of the sales process and optimize it.


Think of this in terms of baseball…


Would you take last season’s home run leader and make him the coach this season? Would you make the strike out leading pitcher your new pitching coach?


Of course not! Why? Because you can’t afford to go without their contributions on the field.


Normally, when a player begins to loose his ability to be productive on the field, he may begin to consider coaching. Even then, he starts out in a junior coaching role so that he can learn how to coach.


What we’re doing with our sales organizations is punishing our top producers by taking them off the field AND making them responsible for the performance of the team, having just had the team’s best player taken off the field.


Is there another way? Is there a way to groom a sales person for sales management before pulling him/her off the field?


I think so. Of course, you could call upon the trainers and coaches at Top Sales Experts. Or you could just begin to delegate simple basic sales management tasks and responsibilities to the “sales manager in training” slowly and over time.


What are your thoughts? Please share your experiences and thoughts with us by commenting!