Sustained Success: What the Patriots and Spurs can teach Sales Companies

Super Bowl LI was something incredible to witness. No other team in NFL history has come from a 25-point deficit to win a Super Bowl. This win solidified Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback to ever play the position. It also gave the New England Patriots their 5th championship in 15 years. Along with the Spurs, the last 15 years for the Patriots have been one of dominance in their prospective sports winning 5 championships in that time period. When examining both of these franchises, there are a few key areas that separate them from others. These key areas have created a culture for sustained success and are great examples for any sales organization looking to do the same.

3 Keys to Sustained Success

1.  They believe that the team comes first.

The Patriots and the Spurs both had some success before the hiring of their new coaches, however it wasn’t 15-years of sustained success. Bringing in Popovich and Belichick both drastically changed the mentality and culture of these organizations. Both coaches have a team first mentality and believe in owning one’s actions and responsibilities. They believe that recruiting those who fit in with the culture and the vision is more important than mere talent.

In sales, there is a tendency to recruit for talent and overlook personalities of top performers. When Popovich took over for the Spurs, he traded Dennis Rodman to the Bulls because Dennis didn’t fit into the team first mentality. Dennis was all about himself and was a distraction to the team. All too often, companies hold onto the top producers even if they are a cancer to the organization. Their attitudes and actions do not hold true to the company’s core beliefs however this is overlooked in fear of losing their production.  Companies who wish to have sustained greatness need to reflect a culture where the team is held higher than the individual. This will create a sense of togetherness with others on the team and boost moral for the overall company.

2.  They aren’t afraid to take risk.

Both the Patriots and Spurs put tremendous thought before making any moves. This thought however, does not mean that they don’t take risk. It means that although the risks are a little more calculated, they still take them. The greatest example of this is with Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Tom was the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft and won the starting job after Drew Bledsoe went down. Even after being cleared to play, Belichick stuck with Tom Brady. A risk that definitely panned out.

Hiring managers have a tendency to only look for sales professionals who have sales experience. Most of the time, they want to hire sales professionals with experience, not only in sales, but within the given field they are recruiting for. They often overlook resumes from less qualified applicants and in doing so, miss out on potentially finding a super star for their organization. Great sales managers walk a fine line between hiring experienced talent and new potential, sometimes taking risk on the less experienced applicants. These risks can bring about great returns when the right team member is found and developed.

3.  They have leaders they believe in.

When both franchises decided to bring in new leadership, they handed over the keys to the organization. Bob Kraft and Peter Holt understood that in order to have their organizations be highly successful, they needed the coaches to have full autonomy in making decisions that directly affect the team, its personnel and its vision. They did not bring in either Greg Popovich or Bill Belichick to constantly look over their shoulders and second guess every decision they make. Belichick is not only the head coach, but also the GM for the Patriots and previous to hiring R.C. Buford as the GM (Popovich first hired him as Director of Scouting), Popovich held both roles. Both coaches were able to create a game plan and vision that helped accomplish the overall mission of both franchises. They did this their own way while managing their talent and organizations accordingly to achieve success.

Being able to trust the direction and vision of your leaders is drastically important. Sales leaders need to have the ability to create a vision while developing and growing their teams how they best see fit as long as that development and vision is in alignment with the overall goal and vision of the company. This trust then trickles down to the sales teams as the leader gives more trust and ownership to the team to develop their vision, goals and strategies to achieve both. When ownership and upper management believes in its leaders, the teams will also believe in its leaders knowing there is a vested interest on all sides for the overall success of the organization.



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