Applying Best Practices From Football to Your Sales Team


What’s a business conversation without a good sports analogy? Let’s talk football today and the many ways you can adapt the best practices of great football teams to your dealership sales team. Your associates may not be donning pads and helmets or performing in front of a stadium crowd, but much of what they do can be influenced by key behaviors that drive success.

That’s what you’re trying to do with your sales team: analyze the behaviors to drill down to which ones lead to a sale and then train your team to repeat those behaviors. This is the job of any great manager or coach. Here are some specific football behaviors that make a great translation to the showroom floor:

Embrace dynamism. Every great quarterback (QB) knows when it’s time to give up trying to make a pass and go for it either by handing the ball off or running for it themselves. In the same way, teach your sales team to trust their gut instinct and make the play that makes sense for that moment. For instance, if your playbook says that an email is the next step after a call, but there was great conversation on the phone call, then trust your sales reps to switch it up and make another phone call, rather than following protocol.

Be a great manager. Invest in your own development and training so that you can equip your sales team to be great. For every Peyton Manning or Tom Brady out there (okay, so there aren’t very many QBs of this caliber, but you get the point), there’s a great offensive coordinator guiding them and helping them know how to time their passes and when to go with their gut instinct.

You don’t need star performers, as much as you need star leaders. If you’ve got a business development center rep that’s lighting up their sales goals, share their best practices with the rest of the team. Just like in football, the most valuable professionals aren’t those that score the touchdown and celebrate themselves, but those that have a team focus and use their own expertise to make everyone better.

It’s not over until it’s over. History is full of upsets, last-ditch wins and epic game-changers, like Super Bowl XXVI when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams in the last 2 minutes of the game. Your sales history is likely filled with stories like this, too, if you sit down and spend some time recollecting with your team.

Remembering these great moments is a healthy exercise for your sales team as a way to remind them that it’s never over until it’s really over. Don’t give up or lose enthusiasm before you’ve truly lost the sale. Give it everything until your potential customer either chooses to do business with you or has made a purchase somewhere else.

It’s hard to deny that sports often provide great examples of the behaviors that lead to success in any setting. Perseverance, teamwork and encouragement from a great coach make for success whether you’re selling cars or taking a group of kids out camping. They’re simply ingredients for life. For today, though, it’s all about football and how the same skills that fuel a winning football team are also great for your sales team.


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