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Sales Leadership: What it takes to be number one.

Posted on: Apr 11, 2024 by Scott MacMurdo
 Sales Leadership: What it takes to be number one.

By Scott MacMurdo, VP of Product

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. The proverb of the renowned professional football coach Vince Lombardi. What he meant by this phrase is the combination of effort plus achieving the goal. In short …. putting points on the board. He wanted to motivate his players with a sense of urgency so that they understood the ruthless nature of the game. If players don’t win (get the job done), coaches get fired. Lombardi saw professional football as a business, especially with a legacy franchise, the Green Bay Packers. Coaches and business leaders alike who can’t find a way to win are fired, regardless of the effort they put forth.

"It is time to stand up for the doer, the achiever, the one who sets out to do something and does it.”

Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi’s phrase was both timely and prophetic. Think back to society that pervaded the 1960’s … free love, substance abuse, counter-cultural hippies raging against society’s norms. In his mind, this self-destructive apathy was eroding people’s competitive spirit that drove them to excellence. “Our society, at the present time, seems to have sympathy for the misfit, the ne’er-do-well, the maladjusted, the criminal, the loser. It is time to stand up for the doer, the achiever, the one who sets out to do something and does it. The one who recognizes the problems and opportunities at hand, and deals with them, and is successful, and not worrying about the failings of others. The one who is constantly looking for more to do. The one who carries the work of the world on his shoulders. The leader. We’ll never create a good society, much less a great one, until individual excellence is respected and encouraged.”

How Can Sales Leaders Foster a Winning Culture in Their Teams?

Let’s take a Lombardi approach as sales leaders and ask ourselves:

  • Are we challenging our sales team? Setting the bar high?
  • Are we training and upskilling our team members?
  • Do we hold our team accountable for performance … and compensate them when they win?
  • Do we hire to the right standards … have the right players on the field to win?
  • Do we communicate clear high-level business objectives to help foster a one-team culture?

We as sales leaders, just as professional coaches, have the responsibility to create this winning culture by holding each player accountable for doing the work that it takes to succeed. The doers who despite all challenges, find a way to win. Winning is infectious and rubs off on their peers.

What Challenges and Opportunities Do Sales Leaders Face in Today's Business Environment?

Coming through the past few years of COVID was an accomplishment in and of itself. In 2023, it was getting back to a winning culture as our greatest challenge as leaders. For many on our team, sales skills have atrophied … they became expediters, order takers, and allocators because that is what the business environment called for. Growth cannot be sustained without the hustle.

How to Assess and Strengthen the Competitive Spirit Within Sales Teams?

Look through your organizations and honestly assess if you’re too empathetic to your weakest players and if so, what must you do to create that competitive spirit again for your next level players? As any coach must do, you may have to decide if it is time to substitute with a more willing competitor or just stick with who you have on the field despite the score of the game.
You can find more leadership aspiring stories like this one in a book written by Vince Lombardi’s son, Junior on Amazon. Search What It Takes To Be #1.