My 11-year old son is a goalkeeper for a very competitive soccer team. With some recent changes on his team, there has been a shift in their performance. In the past, their defense was solid, and their offense was deadly. They could score at will. Early in the new season, the team has managed to score a total of ONE goal across its first four games. You cannot win if you do not score.
After their most recent defeat, the coach said, “You guys have to score more goals. It’s just that simple. You need to put the ball in the net.” During the team meeting after the game, the boys sat while the coach spoke. Of course, I’m guessing it was just like when an adult speaks in a Peanuts’ cartoon: They heard something, but they did not understand any of it. You could read their faces: “Don’t you think that’s what we’ve been trying to do?”
Businesses face a similar challenge. In the past, you may have been successful hitting your numbers. But, recently, you may not be reaching your goals. I speak with many CEOs and heads of sales who come to me for help saying, “I keep telling my guys we need to generate more business. I tell them to have more meetings, to do more proposals. My team just doesn’t listen!” It can certainly be frustrating. But, just like soccer, your team has likely been trying to do the very thing you are asking.
As times have changed, perhaps you have not adapted. Maybe your skills have not evolved. Your messages that used to resonate with customers now fall on deaf ears. Your solutions that used to be head and shoulders above the competition now appear to be a commodity. The way your best clients used to make buying decisions has changed. Regardless of the reason, what worked in the past no longer works, today.
During his meeting with the soccer team, the coach eventually shifted from “score more goals” to a conversation about what specific actions they could take to achieve their objective of scoring more goals. He pointed out the specific skills that were preventing their success. He even pointed out that some of the team members did not appear to be giving 100% of their effort. Ultimately, he concluded that during the upcoming practice, they would do drills that reinforce behaviors which improve their chances of scoring. The coach realized that they needed to practice the actions they needed to take to be successful.
Telling your team to “land more contracts” is no more effective than telling a team of 11 year-olds to” score more goals.” Just like the soccer team, your team needs to understand the specific steps to take in order to succeed. There are three steps you can take to get your business team on the road to scoring.
- Step back and evaluate: Before you can determine what you want to fix, you need to evaluate WHY you may not be realizing success. Which specific skills might be a stumbling block for your team? You may need to shuffle your roster to put people in the right positions;
- Define a process: Structure gives us a foundation to evaluate and make changes. Define a consistent step-by-step plan that each team member can follow to generate new business. Engage the team in developing the plan so that they own it.;
- Practice: This is where many great plans fall short. Create an environment for regularly scheduled practices. My son’s soccer team practices three hours per week and plays a game for one hour per week. When I ask senior executives how often their teams do role playing or practicing, I often feel like the “adult talking in a Peanuts’ cartoon.” Once you define a process, be sure to create an environment for your team to regularly practice it.
By evaluating the team’s performance, defining a plan of action, and creating an environment for reinforcement through practice, the soccer team will be back to scoring and winning… and hopefully the same will be true for your team in your business.
Please use the comments section below to ask a question or share your ideas with others. I look forward to reading your thoughts.