Preparing for success. What lessons can sales and customer service managers draw from sport?

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Team GB’s recent success pays testament to the impact of carefully targeted investment, meticulous preparation and the ability to make tough strategic decisions. 

There is little doubt that increased investment has provided one of the key building blocks. The significant increase in funding, provided by The National Lottery, has been instrumental in the change of fortunes over the past 12 years. However, the way these funds have been allocated has also been remarkable – with resources being ruthlessly channeled into successful sports. Teams that underachieve have seen their funding cut.

Another essential element to the strategy is meticulous long-term preparation and support. Athletes have the support of a team of professionals to help the athlete deliver the best performance possible. They have access to world-class coaches, sports scientists, nutritionists and physiotherapists to ensure that every possible incremental gain is achieved and they are in the best position to excel.

So what lessons can businesses draw from the approach adopted from the world of sport? And how can frontline managers help their teams improve their performance?

Prepare to succeed
World class athletes are very clear about their long-term training programmes and what they need to do to achieve at each stage of their preparation prior to a key competition. Often you will hear young athletes talking about goals four years away – articulating in meticulous detail each element of their training programme, what they will specifically do and how they’ll evaluate their successes or development areas. For example, participating at a particular event is seen as invaluable experience in their journey to their long-term goal.

This type of in-depth analysis is less common in the workplace. Can your sales and customer service teams describe their individual long-term objectives and each stage of preparation required to attain these goals? Just imagine the impact on motivation if your team had such clear aims, supported by a thorough personal development programme to achieve these goals?

Practice makes perfect
Everyone expects an athlete to follow a grueling training programme. Nowadays, they are carefully constructed so as to develop the prerequisite skills, stamina and mindset to perform at the desired level.

This approach can be applied in the workplace. For example, what aspects of the role should your teams practice regularly, what new skills and behaviours do individual team members need to acquire? How do you ‘feed their work muscles’ with the relevant ingredients to succeed? And importantly, don’t underestimate the importance of your role as a manager in providing regular planned and ad-hoc constructive coaching to support your team.

Your environment
The Team GB training camp, in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte left nothing to chance – with some of the best training facilities available. Significant effort had been made to provide the Team GB with a comfortable, productive environment, without unnecessary distractions.

Likewise, could you improve the environment of your sales and customer service teams? Are there any small changes that could be made that could have a big impact on performance?

Go for Gold
Delivering outstanding performances whether in sport or in business takes hard work, commitment, practice, support from colleagues and coaches, coupled with an unwavering attention to detail. So aim high and go for Gold.

If you would like to talk about improving the performance of your sales and customer service teams, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

This post was written by

Mark BW McDermott

Account Director