If you hate sports metaphors in sales / business, this blog post isn’t for you.
If you love ‘em, buckle up, because we’re about to inject you with 1,000 words of pure sports-as-the-perfect-metaphor-for-sales wisdom that you’re guaranteed to love.
We’ve been using sports as the jumping off point for discussing sales since 2014.
And today, we’re covering sales coaching in-depth with a look at 10 coaching archetypes from the world of sports.
The 10 Sales Coaching Archetypes
What does it take to be a great sales coach?
There are a few non-negotiables:
- Passion for winning
- Caring for your team
- Deep understanding of the art and science of sales
- Core coaching philosophy
Beyond the non-negotiables? You can get creative. As we’re about to show you with our top 10 sales coaching archetypes, there are a million different ways to be an elite sales coach.
The goal is to create a system that works for you and can lead to repeatable wins for your team.
Sports is a great example of how this plays out in the sales world, so let’s jump into our 10 sales coaching archetypes using examples from the sports world.
Sales Coaching Archetype #1. Nick Saban
The most-dominant college football coach of all-time (with apologies to Bear Bryant) is the basis of our first sales coaching archetype.
Saban is a devoted teacher of The Process, a system he has created that prioritizes “preparation over prize.” The idea being that the execution of each step in the process itself is what guarantees the result.
It’s a powerful mental model that links closely with other hyper-successful programs in the modern world (Alcoholics Anonymous, with its 12 steps, bears a striking resemblance) and has powerful overlaps in the sales world.
If you’re a sales coach prone to saying things like, “Sales is a numbers game,” emphasizing the importance of hitting daily activity goals, and celebrating reps who put in the daily effort needed to win deals, then you might be a Nick Saban Sales Coach.
Sales Coaching Archetype #2. Pat Summitt
Pat Summitt is considered by many to be the G.O.A.T. in women’s basketball.
A dominant force in women’s college hoops at the University of Tennessee for decades, Summit built a dynasty of feared women’s teams in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
Summitt was a huge fan of the Definite Dozen rules for success in life that she shared with each of her teams. These were life principles that assured success in life as well as on the basketball court. They included principles such as “Put The Team Before Yourself,” “Take Full Responsibility,” and “Change is a Must.”
If you’re a sales coach who’s into sharing life principles as a means of pushing your team to succeed, you might be the Pat Summitt of sales coaching.
Sales Coaching Archetype #3. Bill Belichick
Does the saying “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” resonate with you?
Do you hire once-in-a-generation talent?
Do you take pride in repetition, monotony, and having negative charisma while letting your wins speak for themselves?
Congrats, you’re the sales version of Bill Belichick.
While we won’t advocate for some of Belichick’s coaching philosophies, we can certainly vouch for his ruthless commitment to winning and his ability to select high caliber players to be on his team.
Just hope you never have to win a deal against the Eli Manning of the sales world.
Sales Coaching Archetype #4. Bob Knight
The General Bob Knight is our next Sales Coaching Archetype.
Are you a fiery, passionate leader with a tendency to swear a little more than your average sales professional?
Do your reps love you and fear you equally?
Do you say things on social media and to your bosses that get you in trouble, but inspire admiration from around the sales world?
Congratulations, you might be the Bob Knight Sales Coaching archetype.
The leader of the Indiana Hoosiers and the last coach to lead his team to an undefeated National Championship season, Bob Knight knows how to win.
You might be polarizing. You might be intimidating. But you win—and that’s what matters.
Sales Coaching Archetype #5. Herb Brooks
Immortalized in the film Miracle, Herb Brooks was the coach who shocked the world in 1980 when he led the underdog United States Olympic Hockey team to a victory over the Russians and a Gold Medal.
As a coach, Brooks was not a fun guy to play for. “I’m not your friend,” Brooks famously said.
Ingeniously, Herb united his players by making them universally loathe him as their coach. If they needed a shoulder to cry on, his Assistant Coach Craig Patrick was their man.
What Brooks succeeded in doing was creating a tough, unified team that believed in itself and was able to stand up to the Soviet Union.
If you’re a hardass sales coach that demands a lot from your team, then you might be the Herb Brooks of sales coaching.
Sales Coaching Archetype #6. Tony La Russa
Regarded as the greatest MLB skipper ever, Tony La Russa is our sixth sales coaching archetype.
Are you a chameleon? Can you blend into any environment and become the undisputed leader and alpha dog?
Do you radiate intensity, but also possess a charisma and sense of caring that wins your reps over to your way of thinking?
A “player’s coach” if you will, this Sales Coaching Archetype relies heavily on force of personality to get immense buy-in and loyalty from your reps.
If this is you, congratulations, you sound like Tony La Russa, winner of three World Series titles and the second winningest MLB manager of all-time.
Sales Coaching Archetype #7. Dawn Staley
Are you blunt and real with your team at all times?
Does your team appreciate you for your tough love and “iron sharpens iron” mentality?
Do you deliver equal doses of tough discipline with playfulness and true displays of caring?
If so, then congratulations, you might be the Dawn Staley of sales coaching.
Staley is the hottest women’s college basketball coach on the planet right now and a force to be reckoned with, leading the South Carolina Gamecocks to perennial domination of the SEC.
Shout out to all the coaches who have mastered the art of dishing out blunt, constructive criticism with blunt love for your reps.
Sales Coaching Archetype #8. John Calipari
Coach Cal is the legendary men’s basketball coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and our eighth sales coaching archetype.
Cal is the archetype for every sales leader who understands that recruiting top-tier talent to join his or her sales force is the first and most essential step to winning.
A John Calipari style sales coach is an ace recruiter who cares more about putting together a roster of top-tier A players than X’s and O’s.
He or she has a loose system that plays to the strengths of the team and designs ways to take advantage of talent gaps against the opposition.
If this sounds like you, congratulations, you’re National Champion and three-time Naismith Coach of the Year winner John Calipari.
Sales Coaching Archetype #9. Phil Jackson
The Zen Master himself is our ninth sales coaching archetype.
The man who got more out of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant than any other coach.
The son of two ministers, Jackson architected the Triangle Offense and got some of the best players of a generation to buy into it.
If you’re a sales coach who specializes in pushing great talent to overcome ego and sacrifice for the good of the team, you’ve got some Phil Jackson in you.
Sales Coaching Archetype #10. Jimmy Johnson
Our final Sales Coaching Archetype is the man who helped The U invent Swagger.
A coach who instilled his team with confidence and an attitude that it could not be beaten.
A coach whose inspired hatred amongst his opposing coaches and teams, and diehard loyalty amongst his own players.
If you love building an “Us vs Them” culture, psyching up your team, and competing with an edge against your competitors, look out.
You might be the tenth Sales Coaching Archetype, Jimmy Johnson.
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