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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Five Athletes Who Remind Us of the Value of Coaching Sales People

sales coachingIt's Pop Culture Week on The Center for Sales Strategy Blog. Each day this week, we're taking our sales strategy lessons from the pages of pop culture. Today, we're talking athletes...

When it comes to coaching sales people, it seems like everyone (including me) is always using sports analogies. This post today is not at all about that, but it is a Top Five List of those athletes that remind us of just how important having good coaching is to truly find peak performance. What’s interesting about these examples is that we highlight the athlete, but just as much could be made of the coach.

1.  Michael Phelps. The Olympic swimmer is naturally blessed with many talents that make him perfect to excel in his sport of swimming. But imagine if he did not have a coach? Imagine if there was nobody there to teach him, hold him accountable, show him where he is doing it perfectly, and encourage him to do it again. And, of course, where he is not perfect, and how he might make adjustments.  

2.  Danica Patrick. This IndyCar racer has what it takes to be successful in her sport and has worked with many along the way to success. She reminded us of the importance of the coach when she moved from IndyCar to Stockcar racing. Instead of just saying, "I'm a pro. I know what I am doing," she enlisted the help of driving coach Johnny Benson Jr. to help her with the transition.

3.  Lance Armstrong. Much has been written and said about the seven time tour de France winner and how he is naturally talented and almost born to ride, and while all that is true… it would never have happened had he not worked with a couple of amazing coaches. Lance himself has said many times if not for the help of his coach Chris Carmichael and his race director Johan Bruneel, there might not have been as many victories along the way. Lance reminds us that it’s great to have talent, but having someone help you to maximize that talent is amazing.

4.  Michael Oher. Yes you know the name from the movie The Blind Side (If you have not seen the movie, go see it!). Michael Oher is a great example of natural talent and natural size to ultimately be successful in the sport of football. But it’s not like he just showed up and the magic happened. In fact, in the movie there is a great scene where you see some incredible coaching going on. What’s great is that the coaching is coming from his mom. It’s a great reminder that everyone needs to be coached a little differently, and that without that individualized approach, full potential might never be reached. See the movie!!!!

5.  Rocky Balboa. Yes, Rocky Balboa. He is a great example of the value of coaching. Could you even imagine Rocky taking on Apollo Creed without having Mickey in his corner? In Rocky's case his courage, heart, passion, ability to get back up—and of course, hit really hard—were natural talents but his coach / trainer Mickey was the guy that kept him focused. Mickey made him see the right challenge and train the best way.  

I’m certain there are many more athletes out there who remind us of the importance of the coach, or in this case the sales coach. Please let me know who you think belongs in this Top Five List.

Matt Sunshine is Executive Vice President at The Center for Sales Strategy.

To see all the posts from Pop Culture Week, follow these links:

Five songs for sales people and how they relate to sales performance

Five celebrities who exemplify professional branding

Five children’s books that will help improve sales performance

Five movies that teach us about talent development

Topics: Management Sales