What Does a Football Program Teach Us About Business Teams?

team building Dec 03, 2017

While listening to the Morning X on Austin’s FM 101.5 radio station in the morning, I heard Chance Mock say something that related perfectly to the world of managing sales teams. Jason, one of the Morning X hosts, was getting Chance’s opinion on Longhorn football related topics since Chance used to be a quarterback for that team while in school at University of Texas.

The two men were comparing the Texas Longhorns to other college teams and commenting on what makes the Longhorns one of the greatest teams in college football. What Chance said was, (I’m paraphrasing) many college teams have a great eleven guys – the starting line. What makes UT so strong is that they have all great guys, so when you substitute any of the starters out, another brilliant player is going in. So many guys want to play for UT that they have a dazzling team from start to finish. Whereas other college teams have the strong eleven, then the quality fades a bit in the rest of the team. Chance said the Longhorns are remarkable because they have depth.

That concept applies the same way for sales and business teams. In order to have a great team, it cannot rely on a few top performers or just a group of mediocre performers. Rather, it is necessary to build some depth in your organization.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind while designing and developing your line up.

1.     Plan out what sort of players you want on your team.

2.     Create a vision for that team.

3.     Promote that vision to everyone at team meetings and in one-on-one conversations.

It works!  Share your vision, explain the different roles you’re looking to fill, and they step up. Roles don’t have to mean titles or paid positions. I’ve had people on my teams fill roles like field trainer, training assistant, recruiting assistant, sales leader, event organizer, and advertising assistant solely for being part of a winning organization and gaining incredible experience. Share what they may enjoy about the roles, how it will help build the team, how important it is for the team’s long term vision, and they’ll pick which they have a passion for.

Retention Is Needed to Build Depth

Retention helps you build a bigger team long-term, and appreciation is an important retention tool. When is the last time you told someone how much you appreciate him or her?  Or gave a small gift of appreciation? They don’t have to cost much. Great appreciation instruments can include picking up the tab for an inexpensive lunch, a new tie, a small, useful accessory that would help them with work, or surprising them with one of their favorite snacks. It helps to get to know those on your team so you know what sort of gift would have a positive impact on them, thus would make them feel appreciated.

The old saying, “Build it and they will come”, is not accurate in my experience, nor is it as much fun. Who wants to go through the entire building process alone? It’s more accurate to live by, “Envision it, promote it, appreciate it, and they will help you build it”. 


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