Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dave Kurlan: Prepare Your Sales Staff Boston Red Sox Style  

My buddy Dave Kurlan, a leading mind who uses science and hard data to help organizations hire and train successful sales staff, posted an entry to his weblog about using the World Series-headed Boston Red Sox as a template to remake your own talent management.

Here's one essential point from his entry we both lead with in our methods:

The Red Sox were more prepared. They didn't get rattled. They didn't feel the pressure. They did what they have practiced, did it consistently and did it well. Before every game, each player has balls hit to him at his position, makes practice throws and takes batting practice. Isn't he already one of the best 700 players in the world? Why is he practicing? To be prepared for whatever might take place in the game. {SNIP}

Based on what I've seen from evaluating 8000 sales organizations and 300,000 salespeople, your salespeople are probably no better or worse than those at the 8000 other companies. However, what would happen if they were more prepared? What would happen if they prepared for every possible scenario? What would happen if they practiced every day, like the Red Sox?

When it comes to processes that involve the potential for unpredictable variation or human choices (but I repeat myself), just because your staff is already good at it doesn't mean simulation and other forms of practice won't make them better. Quicker to respond. Surer in their experience. Sounder in their actions.

Coaching should be active. Not merely built around off-site training. One good idea: Whenever there is non-vital time you can harvest, practice scenarios, simulate situations, cross-pollinate salesfolks' skills by letting them play out alternatives to efforts that failed -- with the individual who missed a successful effort playing the prospect. I'm sure Dave has a half-dozen better ideas.

And if you're interested in sales methods, take a look at his book, which is actionable, understandable...and built around a baseball metaphor (what could be better than that?).

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