Successful college football coaches do not become champions overnight. It takes years of learning, practice, trial and error to become an elite college football coach. The same can be said for sales managers as the best ones are able to develop and grow over the course of time.

It's all a process

Nick Saban is recognizable as one of the premiere college football coaches in the country, having recently led Alabama to three national championships in a four-year span. However, Alabama was the 13th different place Saban coached during his career. He had experienced success prior to his stint in Alabama, but it was his journey that enabled him to come up with his coaching philosophy known as 'The Process.''

"The Process" basically means focusing on all the little things and not worrying about the big picture. In football, it means focusing on each individual play and doing your very best in order to run each play to perfection. Saban learned to be a perfectionist when he began working at his father's service station as a young boy in Monongah, West Virginia. It was a time when there was the need to do more than just pump gas at a service station. Young Saban was required to clean windshields, check tire pressure, do grease jobs and much more. And he was required to do each task perfectly, If he did not, he was forced to do the task over again. 

His father's meticulous nature later extended to the football field, where he coached Saban in Pop Warner. Those lessons that focused on doing everything the right way stayed with Saban up until this day. Saban's current routine remains similar each day and he even eats the same lunch to eliminate the excess time it would take to decide on what he wants to eat. The Process enables him to make the most out of every minute of every day and it is also a reason why he is rarely out-recruited by any other coach in the country. Saban's dedication to each individual task and individual moment is what has made him so successful. 

Successful sales managers can take plenty of lessons out of Saban's playbook. Football practice is essentially a way of simulating game situations. Sales managers can also simulate client meetings in the same way. And instead of focusing on the outcome, they can focus on each small component of the process. 

Ways of doing that include establishing a sales script which features things like possible questions, how to deal with any client objections, and recognizing the signs that let you know when it is time to close. "The Process" is all about the tiny details and if all of those details are carried out with precision, it will lead to success. There is no reason sales managers cannot utilize every minute of the workday by having their sales reps concentrate on specific components of sales. Putting all those components together can make for monumental success in the future.

Genuine concern

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has taken the Michigan State football program to new heights in recent years. Prior to that time, he served as a defensive coordinator at Michigan State under then head coach Nick Saban for five years. However, the two have developed different coaching philosophies.

Dantonio is able to get the most out of his players by showing a general concern for them off the field and going that extra mile to help. Developing relationships is an integral part of his coaching philosophy and those relationships extend off the field. As a result, Dantonio's players tend to give their utmost effort for him every time they take the field.

Sales managers who get to know their reps on a personal level often get more out of their team members. However, there still has to be a line of demarcation that reinforces the fact that there is still a chain of command at work. But getting to know employees on a personal level has its advantages. This makes managers seem more approachable while also increasing employee engagement. Sales reps who are more engaged will almost always produce better results. 

Leadership and Accountability 

Urban Meyer is the reigning national championship coach after his Ohio State team won the first ever BCS four-team playoff in 2015. Just as it is with any head football coach, Meyer has to manage a lot of people, including 85 scholarship players. It would be virtually impossible for him to micro-manage every player on the team individually. Instead, Meyer has connected with all of his players through his leadership.

One of the areas Meyer continually emphasizes is accountability. Using the term 'power of the unit', Meyer aims to hold each position group accountable for everything it does. That has enabled position groups to take it upon themselves to manage their own daily activities while holding their peers accountable for doing their part. 

Sales managers also do not have the luxury of meeting with each member of their sales team for an extended period of time each day. Holding certain groups within a sales team accountable for certain tasks will create leadership and, if done right, a closer bond within that group.

Sales managers need to realize they do not have to personally develop each sales rep. Leadership can have just as positive of an effect as individual coaching. Sales managers can link daily activities to desired results. It is a way of helping sales reps connect the dots, without having to actually explain all the minute details to each rep individually. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Brynn Anderson

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