Sports Sales Leaders…What Are YOU Doing to Bring Your Team Into 2017 and Beyond?

Sales-LeadersLast week, I offered a blog on getting into sports, which led to an awful lot of emails to me about getting out of sports.  In one day alone, I heard from 5 people, 4 of whom are outstanding salespeople, who are leaving sports because, even though they reached their goals (3 prior to the start of the season), they were written up because they did not conform to the correct number of calls per day…the only measure it seems our sales leaders have out there.  I know there teams out there who ‘get it’ and would give their right arm to get these people to join their team.  But they are few and far between. Why?

I am on a  mission to train our sports sales leaders on how to lead in the 2000’s. When I work with sales leaders and do a sales leadership training, one of the areas we focus on is accountability and how we measure it. I guarantee 99% of them will say ‘number of calls/day and hustle board.’  My response to you as a leader is:  Einstein’s theory on insanity is at work here.  Doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results.  We end up losing some of the best, and our turnover is horrendous.

As leaders, we need to have a general goal, general statement, general expectations.  But then we have to be realistic and realize that each of our reps are individuals…they learn differently, they hear differently, and most importantly, they have different strengths and will sell differently.  If they hit their goal and it wasn’t by a million calls a day but rather by a few calls, meetings, a mix of social media…is that a bad thing?

I dig deeper and ask why we think that way…why we hold accountability that way.  And the answers are very honest.  It’s the way they learned. It’s the way the vp’s learned.  And if we don’t continue it, we don’t get promoted.

Sports have a lot of different challenges than they had in 1980.  Sports were the big thing in town…ballparks, courts, arenas were built with many loges / suites added.  It was THE place to be seen. Then came the 90’s and more entertainment started to open. Now we are in the 2000’s headed into the 2020’s…and we are still mentally trying to justify the same methods as from 1980.

I feel  bad for so many who get promoted…they are told ‘here’s how I did it, just keep doing what you’re doing’ and the next thing you know they are frustrated, taking that frustration out on their staff and failing as a leader.  Their bosses want numbers to look at … call numbers…so we hyper focus on that.

How do we break the cycle and how do we train our leaders differently? Do we even train our leaders?  When I train leadership teams for franchises, be it sports or companies, here are a few things I focus on:

First and foremost, does your company/team  have a training for managers/directors/vps?  They know how to lead, as they probably were one of the top leaders in sales.  But do they know how to manage? If you have training, who does it? Internally or externally? Are they allowed to develop their style based on criteria? Or are they told how to lead? The quickest way to let your new leader fail is to tell them how to manage.  I once did a workshop for a team and met with the coach prior. We tag teamed together and created a dynamic presentation…be it on the court or off…as to how to get the best of your people.

Have they been taught how to assess individuals?  Or are we still clumping a team together and expecting results?

Have they learned how to help their staff develop their individual business plan? This is not a one pager. This is a well thought out plan for the year. I’ve had some that are 25 pages long, and they are followed to a T with success as the outcome.  Have they been trained on the how/importance/coaching/assessment?  If they have, are they using this as the measure of accountability? That is the whole purpose…each person will be held accountable by their own individual plan THEY put together.

What types of boards should we have up? If revenue is the ultimate goal, then why focus on call volume?  Send the message and  focus on revenue…and get the competitive juices flowing there.  Put the focus on the daily board of revenue. Have the TEAM set the goal of revenue for the day.  Challenge them to go at it. Also have the white board of all the games and the mendoza line for each.  They can’t fall under that amount.

Do we manage by intimidation or integration?  Do we focus on what is not being done (not enough calls, you’re not closing, why aren’t you doing this?)  Or are we managing by integration…putting the team together and having them set the daily goals and expectations and holding them accountable to it? By coaching lessons throughout the day to help them all close better.  By working with them individually on their strategic plan as to what is working, what is not? Is it the idea or the process? How can we improve the process?  Generally an idea isn’t bad, it’s the execution. Are we asking their input and ideas as to how to get a weekly revenue goal hit?  Our job as leaders/managers is to coach that process.

Are we focusing on our leaders bringing in revenue or are we focusing on letting them manage? If we give them sales numbers to hit, they tend to get so focused on that that their team suffers.  Gone is the coaching. Gone is the positive motivation. Gone is the empowerment.  Instead it’s, “make calls as that’s all I have time to measure.”

These are just a few things I cover…a full course is actually over 2 days and involves homework/assessment of what they are doing daily.   I can help a million managers/directors/senior directors…and even vp’s…but it means nothing if those above them still want the same measurables from the 1980’s.

So sales team leaders/Presidents/Owners:  I implore you.  Empower your people to break the mold.  Let’s create teams with a brain who know they need to bring in the revenue and will find ways to do it.  Teams will collectively come up with a plan for the week and go at it.  I promise it will be a mix of ways and THAT’S OK.  Actually that’s better than ok, as they are setting the foundation for what is to come in 2020.  Let’s stimulate that instead of punish it.  Let’s stop having great staff leave and go into other industries where they are excelling because they are able to sell based on who they are and what they bring to the table.  

As I tell sales teams and leadership teams when I meet – and I sincerely mean this – I have one purpose with all the training I do. My purpose is to help develop the sales reps and leaders of today to bring us into the 2020’s in the best way possible.  My purpose is to help develop them to bring us to that next level.  THEY are the future of our sports teams.  Let’s develop them.  Let’s train them. Let’s believe in them and believe they have the gray matter to do things perhaps a little differently than before. And let’s give them the tools to do it. 

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

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Kathy Burrows is a legend! In every organization that we have worked together in she has exponentially improved our sales processes and techniques.

I can’t say enough about her knowledge and her willingness to share best practices with our team.

I will use her every chance I have as a business leader to increase our business!

Alton Byrd

Vice President, Business Operations Long Island Nets



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