Joy Blog

What Every Sales Leader Must Learn from Nick Saban’s Experience

Posted by Bruce Lewolt on Sep 27, 2018 10:25:52 AM

When Nick Saban took over the troubled football program at Alabama, the first thing he did was institute mental toughness training.  After the team won their first National Title, Saban proclaimed that mental training was a big contributor to the team’s success.

What does mental training have to do with your sales team?

Nothing, if you view your salespeople as employees with the job of selling.

Everything, if you rightly view your salespeople as athletes who compete in the sport called selling.

A few years ago, I helped one of the world’s foremost mental toughness trainers build a set of courses for salespeople. This guy has trained multiple gold medal winning Olympians and world championship winning professional athletes in multiple sports. Virtually everything this mental toughness trainer taught was evident  in Alabama’s 51 to 14 victory over Louisville. Here are just two examples;

1 - Thought Control: most people only think about the mental practice of thought control when they are behind. Nick Sabin insists that his team remain just as focused when they are ahead.

A case in point is when an Alabama star player lost focus and made a mental mistake that resulted in an error when Alabama was up 32 to zero. The announcer, who has observed Saban in action for years, said watch this - Sabin will be even tougher on this kid because he made a mistake when Alabama was ahead than when they’re behind. Sure enough, that was exactly how Saban reacted.

What about you? Have you taught your salespeople to control their thoughts during a cold call or presentation, so they are laser focused on what’s going on in the moment and not on outcomes?

When your team is ahead of quota, do you lightened up on important things like call preparation and getting their brain in the right mental zone prior to starting a set of cold calls?

Do you focus most of your coaching time on the weakest sellers and ignore your star performers?

2 - Your Personal “Why”:  during the game, ABC showed a clip of one of Alabama’s mental toughness training sessions led by basketball star Kobe Bryant. Kobe said, “when a player sets up against me I make it my mission to get him to rethink why he is playing professional basketball”. This statement may seem like bravado until you realize that all mental toughness training starts with having a strong personal “why.”  Destroy the “why” and you destroy a salesperson’s resiliency.

What about your salespeople? Have you taken them through a process to identify why they are in sales? Do they have reminders of their personal “why” at their workstation to keep them focused and motivated after a rough call or when it is the last week of the month and they are a long way from reaching their sales quota?

At JOYai, we believe that mental toughness is so important we incorporated mental toughness strategies into the personalized tips that JOY provides to your salespeople at just the right times throughout the day.

Bruce Lewolt

Written by Bruce Lewolt