Jesse Marsch is the first American to coach a soccer team in the UEFA Champions League, the premier club competition in the world.
He’s the head coach of Red Bull Salzburg, the top team in Austria. He’s a master motivator and incredibly thoughtful about how to develop the capabilities of his less experienced players.
I love the following quote of his:
“Game day is for the players — I actually think coaches get in the way. There are occasions when unexpected things happen in a match and a coach has to manage that situation effectively. But, I want my players to go out there and feel free. If they’re constantly feeling judged then it’s a block for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”
Let me translate that into sales-speak:
“Selling is for the sellers – I actually think managers get in the way. There are occasions when unexpected things happen in a sales situation and a manager has to manage that situation effectively. But I want my sellers to go out there and feel free. If they’re constantly feeling judged then it’s a block for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”
If your sellers constantly feel that pressure of being judged or measured, then too few will experiment and risk making a mistake.
This is exactly what you don’t want to happen. Timid sellers produce average results.
Mistakes are an essential learning path for sellers. You have to feel confident enough in yourself as a manager to let those mistakes happen.
It’s possible to build a culture of accountability in sales without every seller feeling that there’s a sword hanging over their head.
The best way to do that is to get out of their way. Establish clear expectations for your sellers. And then give them the freedom, and the responsibility, to make mistakes and learn from them.