The Patriots are Super Bowl champions, thanks largely to the successful game plan their coaches designed for the big game and the cohesive environment the entire organization has fostered throughout the years.
In the NFL, all teams are loaded with incredible athletes who possess superhuman agility and strength. And while talent plays a role in separating the Patriots from the three-win Arizona Cardinals, there are many more critical success factors that go into creating a championship team. It starts with drafting and developing the right players, having a focused training camp, running detailed practices, leadership and teamwork, and making midseason and in-game adjustments.
Like your favorite sports metaphor — “he really dropped the ball” or “that’s a slam dunk” — the Patriots' Super Bowl championship can be used by Chief Learning Officers, sales enablement leaders, and other learning and development practitioners as a guideline to develop a sales or L&D strategy that produces results.
How? Let’s huddle in the coaches room and go over the X’s and O’s.
Draft and develop
The NFL puts college players through rigorous physical tests at the annual NFL Combine, measuring speed, height, and weight. A typical job interview should help you uncover a pool of employees who can impact your company or organization, but how will you help bring them up to speed once they’re hired?
Research shows it takes approximately 11 months to get a salesperson proficient in their role, and 24 months for them to be truly successful. Does that seem like too long? Among the several reasons onboarding programs struggle to perform is that they’re uncustomizable and have an end date. A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t applicable because everyone learns in different ways. Tailoring the pertinent information to an individual’s learning style is the most efficient way to make sure knowledge is retained.
Teams around the NFL arrive to training camp each summer invigorated by a new season and the belief that anyone — even the Cleveland Browns — can win the Super Bowl. While that positivity ultimately wanes for all but a select few, these feel-good vibes carry teams through two-a-day practices, long road trips, and bumps and bruises.
The annual kick-off is the sales industry’s own training camp; a chance to implement new ideas, start fresh, and get your team excited for the year to come. While good in theory, the goals and best practices discussed at these events are typically forgotten along the way as memory fades and momentum slows. The lesson? Strategies and goals presented at your annual sales kick-off should not be a one-and-done exercise. Instead, behavior change and improved performance comes through …
Super Bowl MVP Justin Edelman wouldn’t be going to Disney World without years of practice, which led to improvement through hard work, repetition, and learning from past failures. Edelman knew he hadn’t reached his full potential and, thanks to coaches and mentors, was able to pinpoint where he needed to improve. Like annual sales kick-offs or other employee-onboarding programs, this isn’t a one-and-done approach. Improvement requires repetition.
An athlete’s “practice makes perfect” mentality plays out in the corporate world through programs such as microlearning, an approach that breaks down complex training content into small, digestible pieces to constantly deliver and reinforce the desired message. Through repetition, best-practice microlearning has been scientifically proven to increase knowledge retention by up to 170 percent compared to one- or two-week crash-course onboarding initiatives.
Like in football, Qstream reinforces critical-thinking skills through scenario-based questions. Football players and coaches have had years of direct experience with different game scenarios. Qstream cognitively enhances an employee by presenting scenarios based on real-world selling situations. This enhanced training will positively impact deal closure rates.
Another reason microlearning works is the data that best-practice microlearning platforms such as Qstream collects. The constant questions and challenges presented to microlearners — as well as the immediate feedback — creates a data set that indicates which areas they excel in and those where they need help. Armed with proficiency data and sales performance metrics, leaders and managers are better equipped to coach employees to proficiency and improve their performance.
Leadership and Teamwork
Successful sports organizations are thought to know something others don’t, and often inspire copycats. Various sports have been engulfed by the “(Current Champion) Way” phenomenon, but the ethos of every successful organization — whether it’s sports, sales, or otherwise — is a sense of ownership from the top down.
This all-for-one, one-for-all mentality stems from great leadership, and part of what makes a great leader is listening to and being a champion of your employees. The most successful organizations have strong C-level support for their L&D and training programs thanks to regular reports and open communication from enablement leaders.
That game plan the Patriots came into the Super Bowl with? Most of it was likely torn up during Maroon 5’s halftime performance. While a plan of attack is imperative, it’s often the in-game adjustments that win a championship or seal the big sales deal.
Much like a quarterback calling an audible at the line of scrimmage or an offensive coordinator taking what the defense gives him, managers and coaches need to use what’s in front of them — proficiency data, sales performance, observation — and adjust their plan accordingly in order to achieve results and prepare for the next challenge.
Three-time Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Walsh once said: “Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.” This reinforces that it’s what happens before the trophy presentation or closed deal that leads to a team or employee’s achievement. That road map to success is comprised of repetitive training and development through lessons designed to achieve the desired result.
Are you ready to learn more about what it takes to build a championship sales team? Download our eBook, The 3 Ps of Winning Sales Teams: Aligning Performance, Productivity, and Proficiency.