Friday, July 30, 2010

Raise your hand if you're in sales

Simply put, if your hand didn't go up, then you had better be working behind the counter at Burger King.

During training sessions I ask the audience to raise their hands if they're in sales. If this is the first time they've heard this, usually only the Sales or BizDev folks raise their hands. "I didn't ask if you were salespeople, I asked if you were in sales." A few more hands go up. "OK, everyone, raise your hands. And keep them up." Then I ask the question again. At this point, a few hands drop ... but then these people look around nervously and realize they are supposed to keep their hands up.

When I coach youth soccer, I have this exercise where I have my team stand in a circle around me. I drop the ball I'm holding and ask, "Who's ball is this?" Usually no one says anything, so I ask them individually.

"Who's ball is this?"
"Umm... yours?"
"You're almost right." To the next child: "Who's ball is this?"
"The league's?"
"Getting colder." Next child: "Who's ball is this?" I repeat it as they guess themselves out.
Then I say, "It's my ball."
The first child looks at me like she'd been cheated. "I said that."
"You almost said it." I ask her again, "Who's ball is this?"
"Not quite"
"But you just said..."
"It's MY ball."
By this time, one of the children understands. My favorite moment was when a 9 year old girl walked over to the ball, and dribbled it back to where she was standing. "It's MY ball," she said with a smile.

Clearly this is the message. Possession is key in soccer. We always want our team to have control of the ball (unless it's in the back of the other team's goal). This requires that each one of us, individually, think that getting possession of the ball is our, personal job.

While we must work as a team, and need to communicate clearly who is in the best position to get the ball back (we do not want to clump up like oatmeal), we cannot hope someone else makes the effort to get the ball or create a plan to get back possession. And we need to hustle to make this happen.

Before games, I'd drop the game ball onto the field and ask, "Who's ball is this?" and every child on my team would yell, "It's MY ball!"
"Yes, it is. Now let's act like it."

So... Raise your hand if you're in sales.

Now let's act like it.

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