“Please take off your shoes and socks,” Coach John Wooden announces to his team on the first day of a new season, “I’m going to show you the proper way to put them back on.” He then proceeds to show them in great detail. You may think this is some kind of insider football knowledge and the players may think he is nuts but there is a method to his madness. John Wooden believed that you leave nothing to chance. There are fundamentals and processes for all elements of his sport and he had training in place for each one. In fact there isn’t a sports team that doesn’t have a playbook covering every aspect of their games with practices that review each of those plays over and over again till it is second nature for the athletes.
In the fashion industry the sales training we receive at our companies is, at best, solely on the product. My old friend and mentor was an account executive at Liz Claiborne when they were in their heyday. She said they would spend up to 12 hours going over the collection for the new season. Every feature of the product was reviewed so that they really knew their stuff. But, when I asked about the sales training she said there was none.
We need to step up our game. Let’s take some lessons from sports teams training. It is time to stop running our sales departments from the seat of our pants and put into place comprehensive and consistent training programs. Managing sales is more than just pressuring our people to get out there more. There truly is a science to it. Let’s bring people development to the culture of our companies and maybe we can win a few more “games”.