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  Dave, I'm wearied by the preponderance of books and business advice by all these sports coaches. What's your opinion? How many different coaches do we need to hear from? What makes these books so popular? Is it another example of our infatuation with sports and the desire to bring that into our own lives?
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by Dave Kahle
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What a thoughtful question. Congratulations for the insight that leads you to ask this question. Here are my thoughts...

I can understand the fad for sports coaches dolling out success formulas. From the athlete's perspective, the character traits that are developed through successful sports involvement will serve anyone well in the business world. From the point of view of the manager or executive, many of those leadership techniques that make a sports team a winner are techniques that help the team play at their very best. Those are desirable and helpful in the world of business. And, it's been my observation that as kids grow up, those who participate in sports have a much better chance of staying out of trouble and succeeding than do those who refrain from athletic competition.

So, on the surface, I can understand, and to some degree, support the fad.

However, there are significant differences that call into question the applicability of the wisdom of high profile sports coaches. High profile coaches work in a world that is a far cry from that of the typical sales manager.

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First, the sports coach's successes are measured once or twice a week. In other words, they have the luxury of competing only once or twice a week, for a specific portion of the year. They can, therefore, focus all their resources at that specific contest. Win ten times a year, and you are a very successful football coach.

Sales people and sales managers in the real world have to contest with their competitors daily. Win only ten times a year and you're out of a job. The quantity of contests dramatically reduces the validity of the sports comparison. Many of the real success issues for sales people have to do with prioritizing their time (see my latest book: Ten Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople), and effectively managing the growing quantity of "things to do." These are hardly issues for the once-a-week sports coach.

Second, those high profile coaches have the luxury of working with the absolute cream of the crop. Think of the 15 or so basketball players on a Pat Riley team. Of all the world of human beings, or just the male population of the USA, he has people who are in the top fraction of a percentage. I'm not sure what percentage 15 is of 120 million, but you get the idea. The people the highly visible sports coaches work with are the absolute most highly motivated, most capable, most dedicated fraction of a much larger universe.

Alas, most sales executives do not have the absolute top 1/1000 of 1/10th of 1 percent of the population to work with. So, real world issues having to do with motivation, capabilities, dedication, experience, etc., are what comprise the work of the sales executive.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the fad is an expression of American's fascination with celebrities. The fascination is not one of our more redeeming qualities. It is unfortunately true that tens of thousands of sales people will read the latest sports coach book and take away simplistic platitudes that only remotely apply to their job, while only a fraction of that amount will read any of my four books -- which, I believe, contain wisdom and insights that can transform a sales person.

If you have any comments or questions, email them to me.
I do, of course, reserve the right to edit.

Here are a few articles by Dave
that you might be interested in reading:

  • What's the Best Way to Find a Good Salesperson... Good question! It seems that everyone has a favorite response. Some people only use recruiters, and others swear by networking. But classified ads continue to be the most common choice. Almost everyone who hires salespeople will, at some time, search for prospects via the "help wanted" section.... {Read More}
  • Is it Time to Revise Your Sales Compensation Plan?... If you're paying your sales reps straight commission, you're using an obsolete formula. If you're paying your sales reps a straight salary, you're also using an obsolete formula. Read this article to find out a much more effective way to compensate your sales staff.... {Read More}
  • How to Deal with the Salesperson Who Has Leveled Off... Every manager has, or will, confront this troublesome issue. It's arisen in every workshop for sales managers or branch managers I've done. One or more of your salespeople has leveled off. Their performance hasn't improved much in the last few years. Where before you were able to count on significant increases each year, now you can not. You know that these experienced salespeople can do better, but they seem unable or unwilling to break out of a certain level of performance. You are scratching your head, frustrated, and loosing sleep at night wondering how to improve the situation. What do you do?... {Read More}
There are also many other action-packed articles for sales professionals that offer how-to solutions to every day sales problems that you can read online at www.davekahle.com/article.htm.
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.
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