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  • Writer's pictureLance Tyson

Are Your Coaching Skills Strong Enough to Motivate the Australian Terminator?

Updated: May 30, 2023

Katie Ledecky wins gold at the Rio Olympic games. Insights into sales coaching for High-Performing Sales Teams

Motivation is Key When Coaching High-Performance Sales Teams

It’s been over a week since the closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympic games, but the contests and the displays of determination and individual grit continue to motivate and inspire us to be better performers, coaches, and leaders.

For example, one of the most anticipated events during the Tokyo Olympic games, after the women’s gymnastics, were the women’s swimming events, especially the women’s 400 meter freestyle. A race dominated by American swimmer Katie Ledecky.

Ledecky was favored to win all the women’s swimming events she was scheduled to compete in. So, the world was stunned when Australian Ariarne Titmus, in her Olympic debut, handed Ledecky her first Olympic defeat. The world was even more stunned when her coach, Dean Boxall, displayed his excitement and turned into an internet meme for weeks.

Boxall may have been excited for Titmus’ win. After all, it happened in the biggest sporting competition in the world. But he knew it was coming.

Insights from Dean Boxall, Australia’s Rock Star Coach

Dean Boxall is one of Australia’s rock star coaches. He coaches six athletes who were in the Australian Olympic swimming contingent. And he’s passionate about what he does. According to him, the coaching never stops. When his athletes go home to rest and recover, he goes home and thinks “how can my team get better?”

Under his coaching, Titmus earned the nickname "The Terminator" because competitors started falling when she entered the pool.

In a spotlight interview NBC did on the world competitors, I heard Boxall say something during his interview that I‘ve also heard time and time again from the sales leaders I’ve coached over the years. He said, “If you want to challenge her (Ledecky), you have to hold yourself accountable every session.”

Like Boxall and his athletes, these sales leaders I coached all wanted something and they held themselves accountable. Not yearly. Not weekly. But daily, even hourly. Always asking “how can I get better.”

The Secret to Sales Coaching is Knowing the Source of Motivation

Part of sales leadership is knowing how to be a better coach. We have to know how to motivate team members to get better at what they do. And every team member is different. This isn’t a one size fits all deal. Some team members require more guidance while others simply need you to get out of the way.

Now, one of the biggest mistakes I see new sales managers make is to think that as a leader and coach, their job is to motivate their team. Don’t get me wrong. Making a big speech to rally the troops is part of the job. But that ain’t motivation.

In my sessions, I remind them that their job is not to motivate, but to understand what motivation is and what motivates their team members. They have to understand their people well enough to get inside their head, understand what drives them, and then extract, nurture, and support that drive so that those team members can motivate themselves.

Remember, Boxall said, “You have to hold yourself accountable every session.” The most important word in that statement is “you.”

Mapping Coaching Insights from a Swim Team to a Sales Team

In my interviews with sales leaders in the Against the Sales Odds series, they all often cite someone, a mentor, a coach, a confidant, who helped them navigate troubled times and build their careers. They had someone who could give them external feedback, get them to take corrective action, and get back on track to achieving their goals. But these sales leaders were always the driving force behind their success. They were the ones holding themselves accountable every day.

When we talk about Sales Leadership, one of the 6 Drivers of High-Performance Sales Teams, being a sales coach for your team is a part of that leadership conversation. We’re talking about creating a culture and environment that supports the growth and development of your sales team. An environment where they can motivate themselves to excel.

In that NBC interview, when Titmus talked about first starting on her path, she said that when she saw Ledecky swim in the Rio Olympic games, she remembered saying, “this chick is nuts!” She didn’t think it was possible to compete at that level. But in working with Boxall as her coach, her times started coming down. And instead of Ledecky being “miles ahead” of her, Titmus got to the point where she could see her feet in these races. And she started believing she could accomplish the impossible goal she set for herself.

Like Boxall’s Olympic team, our sales talent comes onboard at different levels with different beliefs about what's possible. It’s our job as sales leaders to provide the environment, the coaching, the belief that we can make great accomplishments by getting everybody moving in the same direction and being the best, they can be.

At the end of the day, sales leaders are doing exactly what every other sports coach in the world is doing: We believe in our people until they’re strong enough to believe in themselves.  

Are you building a high-performing sales team? Start by taking inventory of your assets and your talent. Take the Sales Team Science Assessment here.

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