The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Building a Championship Sales Culture:  What You Can Learn from the Kansas City Royals

    by Sarah Wirth / November 11, 2015

    Your sales team should strive to be like the 2015 Kansas City Royals.  Okay, okay, I live in Kansas City so I might have caught a severe case of world series fever and be spouting nonsense, but hear me out.  If you followed the 2015 baseball postseason, you probably heard time and time again about the never quit attitude of the Royals.  Even when they were down by multiple runs late into the game, they believed they would find a way to win and, more often than not, they did.  Consider this stat – in the 2015 postseason, the Royals scored 40 runs in the 8th inning or later and no other team scored more than five.  The Royals scored eight times the runs of any other team late in the game! This incredible stat shows why the Royals had so many comeback wins – they simply never believed they were out of the game.  And that’s a trait that all teams – whether in baseball or sales – should strive to emulate.

    I worked for over a decade for an organization that studied successful employees.  In all of our studies, we found a common trait among all top performers, regardless of whether they answered phones or led the company – that common trait was positivity.  Top performers simply believe that they are going to find a solution, get to their desired result and be successful, even when the odds are stacked against them.  As a team, the Royals cultivated a culture of belief and positivity throughout their entire clubhouse. And as a sales manager, this is how you want your team to be like the Royals. By developing a culture of positivity and belief, you too can create a team that knows it can be successful, even when the odds are stacked against them.

    As an in game coach, Royals manager Ned Yost is often second-guessed by the media for some of the decisions that he makes.  I’m a big Yost supporter and even I scratch my head at times when he seems to wait a few pitches too many to replace a starting pitcher or makes an odd late-game substitution.  But those are small quibbles in the broader sense of what it means to build a culture of positivity and belief.  Say what you will about Yost, as the leader of the Royals clubhouse, he had the team believing that no deficit was too great to overcome and that they would find a way to win games. 

    As a sales leader, you too can create a culture of positivity and belief.  To do so, you have to model the positivity and belief you want to see from your team in your own coaching behavior.  Yost is known for not warming up relievers far in advance, so his starting pitchers don’t think he has lost faith in them.  And if he believes in a player’s talent, he’ll let them struggle through slumps, continuing to play them so they learn to overcome challenges. Yost even let his shortstop hit in the lead-off spot despite that player’s poor batting average because he knew the team overall played better when the player hit lead-off.  Simply stated, Yost knows that showing his players how much he believes in them is critical to their belief in themselves. 

    So consider whether you model this approach as you coach your sales team.  Do you give up quickly when obstacles arise?  Do you focus on problems, setbacks and all the challenges your team is facing?  Do you give your reps signs that you don’t believe in them?  Or instead, do you show an unshakeable belief in your team and their ability to be successful?  Your words and actions matter, and if everything you do builds belief and positivity in your team, you will be on your way to creating a championship sales culture.

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    Sarah Wirth

    Sarah Wirth

    Sarah Wirth is the president of Ecsell Institute and has over 20 years of experience in employee assessment, leadership development, sales executive coaching, and customer service. She has presented to executives from across the globe with organizations such as Mercedes Benz, Estee Lauder, Ritz Carlton, Cheesecake Factory and many more.