We’re suckers for a great TV show here at Ambition.
Especially one that puts coaching at the heart and center of it.
One of America’s most popular TV shows, Ted Lasso was a surprise hit when it launched on Apple TV in 2019.
The epic story of an American football coach turned British football coach guiding a team of misfits, former all-stars, talented egoists, et al to a championship against the odds holds great lessons for sales teams of all shapes and sizes.
The show has taken home multiple awards since its arrival, and today, we’re ready to apply some hard won lessons from its titular character to the world of sales coaching.
The Ted Lasso Guide to Sales Coaching
Modern sales coaches must see a lot of themselves in Ted Lasso.
They’re often up against incredible odds, facing ridiculous expectations, leadership who has set them up for failure, and a team filled with all manner of talent and personalities.
The best sales coaches know who to navigate these challenging waters with skill and audacity, getting the most out of their team and rising to the challenges before them.
Rule #1. Inspire
Ted Lasso understands the Simon Sinek principle of “Start with why.”
He writes “Believe” as the mantra of the team above his office in Episode 1 and never looks back from there.
A team that doesn’t believe in itself, understand its mission, or trust in one another can never achieve anything great.
Lasso understands that.
As a sales leader, you should, too.
If any of the above three components are missing from your sales team’s psyche, fix that immediately.
Your team will never make it as far as it should otherwise.
Rule #2. Be Kind
People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.
Let me repeat that for you.
People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.
This does not mean that you need to be a pushover with your people. Quite the opposite. You should establish healthy boundaries and hold them accountable, but while operating from a place of respect and kindness.
You can be kind and direct.
Sales coaches who think they’re the second coming of Drill Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket tend to lose their teams.
Ted Lasso maintains an open door policy at all times. He takes a vested interest in his players. And he demonstrates kindness to his players as a general operating principle.
Be like Ted Lasso. Be kind AF.
Rule #3. Stay Positive
Every team experiences adversity.
It’s how they respond to adversity that makes them who they are.
Ted Lasso trusts his people and encourages them through ups and downs.
After a tough loss? He has words of wisdom and uplift.
Players back-talking him? He maintains his composure and stays positive in front of the team (while putting said player in his place).
By staying positive, Ted keeps the team believing. Negative energy in a locker room is dangerous. It’s contagious and potentially severely detrimental to your team.
Coach Lasso snuffs out negative energy quickly using positivity, not more negative energy. This keeps his team focused, on point and energized to keep competing.
Rule #4. Keep it Simple
Ted Lasso isn’t the smartest person in the room.
He doesn’t pretend to know more than he does and he isn’t afraid to seek insight from others.
He also keeps principles for his team simple. Lasso often speaks in stories, told in plain English, with an “aw shucks” style.
When it comes to leadership, Lasso understands that clarity is kindness, and that it’s more important to be understood than to sound smart.
For sales leaders, there’s an important lesson here. As the old saying goes, any idiot can take something simple and make it complex. The real genius is in taking something complex and making it simple.
Rule #5. Don’t Play Favorites
Ted Lasso does not play favorites. He treats every member of AFC Richmond the same, from the owner to the star player on the team to the worst player on the team to the janitor.
Ted Lasso is not interested in what his players can do for him. He’s interested in what he can do for his players.
That’s a huge lesson for sales leaders of all stripes.
Yes, you need your sales team members to be at their best to hit quota.
But it’s your job to get the maximum potential out of them, regardless of their natural talent or experience level.
Over time, sales coaches can fall into having “favorites” on their sales team, which leads to blind spots and challenges.
Rule #6. Create Independent Leaders
Ted Lasso is not a micromanager.
Nor is he an authoritarian who manages his entire team the same way.
Rather than approaching coaching with a “one size fits all” approach or an overbearing style, Ted Lasso adopts a laissez-faire style that does several things well.
One, it shows that he trusts his people.
Two, it allows him to maximize the unique talents and skills of each person, as he adapts his style to each individual on the team.
Three, it creates opportunities for players (like Roy Kent or Nate Shelley) to step up and be coaches.
A great sales leader knows how to reach his or her sales reps as individuals and see their potential. Whether it’s in one-on-ones or just throughout their ongoing rapport, the best sales leaders keep sales reps focused and motivated by understanding them as individuals and pushing the unique buttons that unlock their potential.
In doing so, they create reps that are independent and capable of holding themselves AND their peers accountable. It’s a win-win situation for the coach, the rep, and the team.
Rule #7. Collaborate Well With Your Colleagues in Leadership
Ted Lasso isn’t the only other coach on his team.
His trusted assistant, Coach Beard, has followed him to AFC Richmond. Together, they make a dynamic duo.
A great sales leader knows how to partner with his or her sales ops leader, marketing leader, finance leader, and other stakeholders across departments to meet team goals.
By being a solid collaborator, a sales coach can maximize his team’s effectiveness and succeed at the highest level.
Use Ambition to Unlock Your Inner Ted Lasso
Every great sales leader needs the right tools to make him or her a top-notch coach.
Ambition gives you and your managers the ability to create an ecosystem of accountability and encouragement that inspires your sales reps to be the very best version of themselves.
We can’t give your leadership delicious biscuits to munch on every morning, but we can do darn near just about everything else you need to make your sales team a success.
Catch last night’s finale of Ted Lasso and get a demo of Ambition to get started today.