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Building strong B2B sales teams: The CrossFit approach to sales management coaching
Learn how to improve B2B SaaS sales management coaching by drawing parallels with CrossFit's core principles.
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While sales management and CrossFit are unrelated, a closer look reveals some intriguing similarities. Both require dedication, repetition, structured frameworks, and consistent effort to get better. In this blog, we'll learn how to improve our sales management coaching, drawing parallels with CrossFit's core principles:
We'll also look at variety as a tool to achieve sustained success.
Step 1: Establishing a daily sales routine
When starting CrossFit, establishing a rhythm is key. Whether you're sprinting, rowing, or lifting weights, maintaining a consistent pace can lay the foundation for improved performance. It may involve syncing your breathing with your movements or setting a specific exercise cadence. You also need to establish a rhythm to show up to the gym at a regular cadence. So there are two rhythms: the workouts you do and how you do the workouts themselves.
Similarly, a good sales coach encourages sales teams to find their rhythm. This entails establishing a daily routine that includes checking the CRM system, making calls, and other essential activities. Especially for people new to a sales role or new to a sales team, it's essential to first establish a rhythm before concerning oneself with the speed or volume of their activities. In addition to the daily routine, a weekly or monthly routine can cover pipeline reviews and when you update your forecast. Read more about getting the most out of your sales team from a weekly, monthly, and quarterly B2B sales management perspective.
Establishing a daily routine or rhythm creates a structured and predictable environment. Just as a CrossFit athlete must have a reliable rhythm to succeed, a sales team should operate within a well-defined routine to maximize effectiveness.
Here’s a structured routine for someone new to a B2B sales job to help them create a daily rhythm, manage their time and priorities effectively, and maximize productivity and learning:
Morning routine (8:00 AM - 10:00 AM)
- Morning briefing (8:00 - 8:30 AM):
- Review daily schedule, prioritize tasks, and set intentions for the day.
- Update CRM with any overnight developments.
- Catch up on industry news and relevant trends.
- Prospect research (8:30 - 9:30 AM):
- Spend time researching potential clients and understanding their business needs and company background.
- Utilize tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and company websites.
- Email and communication (9:30 - 10:00 AM):
- Check and respond to emails, prioritize by urgency and importance.
- Schedule or confirm meetings and calls for the day.
Mid-Morning to Early Afternoon (10:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
- Client calls/meetings (10:00 AM - 12:00 PM):
- Engage in scheduled calls or virtual meetings with prospects.
- Focus on understanding their needs and pitching solutions.
- Lunch and learn (12:00 - 1:00 PM):
- Take a break, and utilize this time for informal learning (e.g., industry podcasts, webinars).
- Follow-up and CRM updates (1:00 - 2:00 PM):
- Follow up on meetings and calls with emails or LinkedIn messages.
- Update CRM with new information and action items.
Mid-afternoon (2:00 PM - 4:00 PM)
- Prospecting and lead generation (2:00 - 3:00 PM):
- Cold calling, email outreach, social media engagement like LinkedIn outreach, and utilizing lead generation tools.
- Apply different techniques and test what works best in your industry.
- Professional development (3:00 - 4:00 PM):
- Engage in skill-building activities, like sales training modules and reading relevant articles/books.
Late afternoon to evening (4:00 PM - 6:00 PM)
- Administrative tasks (4:00 - 5:00 PM):
- Handle administrative tasks like expense reports and proposal drafting.
- Document notes from the day, and prepare for the next day's tasks.
- Team check-in/debrief (5:00 - 6:00 PM):
- End-of-day team meeting to share learnings, progress, and challenges.
- Share insights and strategies with peers.
Evening (post-6:00 PM)
- Networking events (occasionally):
- Attend industry events, webinars, or local meetups (virtual or in-person).
- Personal time:
- Disconnect from work to maintain work-life balance.
Weekly review (every friday)
- Reflect on the week's achievements and areas for improvement.
- Adjust strategies and plan for the next week.
Tips for success:
- Set realistic goals: Break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will help you stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Prioritize tasks: Always prioritize tasks that directly impact revenue generation. Not all tasks are created equal. Learn to identify the most important tasks and focus on those first.
- Use a time management system: There are many different time management systems available. Find one that works for you and stick with it.
- Leverage technology: Utilize CRM, AI tools for sales insights, and automation tools to streamline tasks.
- Continuous learning: Stay updated on industry trends, sales techniques, and product knowledge.
- Networking: Build a strong network within and outside the organization.
- Track your progress: Keeping track of your progress will help you see what's working and what's not. This will allow you to make adjustments to your routine as needed.
- Health and wellness: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, as sales can be demanding. It's important to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. Get up and move around, or take a few minutes to clear your head.
This routine is a template and should be adapted based on your specific industry dynamics, company culture, and personal working style. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your routine for efficiency and effectiveness is key.
Step 2: Increase the tempo
Once you've found your rhythm in CrossFit, the next challenge is to increase the tempo. Can you run faster, row harder, or complete more repetitions? CrossFit thrives on pushing individuals to explore their limits and move with greater speed and intensity. The type of exercise that accomplishes this is the AMRAP workout. AMRAP stands for "As Many Reps As Possible," a common format in CrossFit and other high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. In this context, it refers to doing as many sales activities as possible within a set time frame.
After a sales team has established its rhythm, the focus shifts to intensifying efforts. This might involve making more calls, sending more emails, scheduling more meetings, increasing overall frequency without compromising quality, and using this to increase productivity. A benefit is that it’s easy to turn this approach into a fun competition in the team or with yourself (“I made ten calls yesterday—can I do 12 today?”).
The principle of increasing the tempo in both CrossFit and sales management embodies the spirit of continuous improvement. It demands pushing boundaries and consistently raising the bar to achieve superior results.
Incorporating the principle of AMRAP workouts into a daily sales rhythm can be an effective way to boost productivity, increase motivation, and achieve sales goals.
An example of AMRAP in sales
Here's how you can incorporate AMRAP into your daily sales rhythm:
- Set a time limit: Dedicate a specific time block in your daily schedule for AMRAP sales activities. This could be a morning or afternoon session, depending on your preferences and workflow.
- Identify your sales activities: Determine the key sales activities that will contribute to your progress, such as prospecting calls, email outreach, follow-up meetings, or social media engagement.
- Set a target number: For each sales activity, set a target number of reps you aim to complete within the AMRAP time limit. This could be a specific number of calls, emails, meetings, or social media interactions.
- Start the timer: Begin your AMRAP session by starting a timer for the designated time frame.
- Go for the reps: Focus on completing as many reps of your chosen sales activities as possible within the set time limit. Maintain a high level of intensity and focus throughout the session.
- Track your progress: Keep a record of your AMRAP performance each day. This will help you track your progress over time and identify areas for improvement.
- Celebrate your successes: Recognize and celebrate your achievements when you reach or exceed your AMRAP targets. This will help maintain motivation and encourage continued effort.
Sales AMRAP benefits
Incorporating AMRAP into your daily sales rhythm can bring several benefits:
- Increased productivity: AMRAP sessions can help you pack more sales activities into a shorter time frame, boosting overall productivity.
- Enhanced motivation: The challenge of completing as many reps as possible can be motivating and help you push your limits.
- Insights: By increasing repetitions and tracking progress, you get great insights into the development and progress of your team and individuals, allowing you to praise and reward accordingly.
Step 3: Embrace the challenge and level up
As salespeople gain experience and proficiency in their roles, it's crucial to continue providing them with challenges that encourage growth and development. Just as adding more weight to physical exercise increases the level of difficulty, introducing new challenges in sales can help salespeople reach higher levels of performance.
In CrossFit, embracing the challenge is the next step after increasing the tempo. It involves adding more weight, incorporating new exercises, or isolating specific muscle groups to enhance overall performance. You can also do “Rounds for Time” workouts to see how fast you can complete a specific workout. Challenging oneself with progressively difficult workouts is central to CrossFit's philosophy.
In sales management coaching, embracing the challenge means adopting advanced techniques and methodologies. An example is MEDDPICC, which provides a comprehensive framework for addressing various aspects of sales proficiency, from metrics and economic buyers to decision criteria and paper processes. Each component challenges the sales team to elevate their game and navigate increasingly complex sales environments.
Embracing the challenge catalyzes growth. Whether in CrossFit or sales management, it is the relentless pursuit of improvement that distinguishes the exceptional from the ordinary.
Sales coaching techniques to help the team level up
Here are some effective ways to push more experienced team members to level up:
- Expand their scope: Provide opportunities for experienced salespeople to take on more responsibilities and handle complex deals or higher-value clients. This will broaden their expertise and expose them to new challenges that require them to apply their skills in new ways.
- Enhancing customer engagement complexity: Key Account Management: Assign them larger, more strategic accounts that require nuanced relationship management, or Solution Selling: Shift focus from product selling to solution or consultative selling, requiring a deeper understanding of client needs.
- Introduce new markets or territories: Challenging experienced salespeople to expand into new markets or territories can stimulate their adaptability and problem-solving skills. They must navigate unfamiliar customer segments, industry dynamics, and competitive landscapes.
- Increase sales rargets: Setting ambitious but achievable sales targets for experienced salespeople will push them to optimize their strategies, refine their sales techniques, and enhance their negotiation skills.
- Assign mentorship roles: Experienced salespeople can be valuable mentors for new or less experienced team members. Sharing their knowledge, insights, and strategies can help them develop their skills while reinforcing their understanding of sales principles.
- Encourage innovation and experimentation: Provide experienced salespeople with the freedom to experiment with new sales approaches, test innovative marketing tactics, and explore emerging technologies. This will foster creativity, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace change.
- Cross-functional collaboration: Encourage experienced salespeople to collaborate with colleagues from other departments, such as marketing, product development, or customer service. This cross-functional collaboration can provide fresh perspectives, uncover new opportunities, and strengthen business strategies.
- Industry leadership and speaking engagements: Encourage experienced salespeople to take on leadership roles within the industry, participate in conferences, and become speakers at events. This will enhance their visibility, establish them as experts in their field, and expand their professional network.
- Continuous learning and development: Provide opportunities for experienced salespeople to pursue ongoing education, attend industry webinars, and participate in training programs. This will keep their knowledge current, expose them to new trends, and enhance their ability to adapt to changing market dynamics.
- Involvement in strategic planning: Sales Strategy Development: Involve them in developing sales strategies, giving them a voice in higher-level planning. Include them in product development discussions, leveraging their client insights.
By introducing these challenges, you can continuously push experienced salespeople to grow, develop new skills, and achieve even greater success. Just as adding more weight to physical exercise strengthens muscles, introducing new challenges in sales can strengthen a salesperson's expertise, adaptability, and overall performance.
Step 4: Motivation is key
Once an athlete is comfortable with the first three steps, motivation becomes the final piece of the puzzle. Motivation can stem from personal goals, peer pressure, or the allure of rewards like post-workout treats. It's the driving force that propels athletes to push through mental and physical barriers.
Similarly, sales managers play a crucial role in motivating their teams. This motivation can include commissions, SPIF programs (Sales Performance Incentive Fund), or public recognition and praise. However, it's essential to note that motivation should be the last step in the process. Before pressuring team members to perform, ensure they are equipped with the rhythm, tempo, and techniques necessary for success.
Motivation is the ultimate fuel that keeps individuals and teams committed to their goals. It empowers them to persist in facing challenges and strive for excellence. Here are some examples to think about:
- Recognition and rewards: Recognize and reward experienced salespeople who consistently exceed expectations, demonstrate exceptional leadership, or contribute to the development of others. This positive reinforcement will motivate them to continue striving for excellence.
- Career growth opportunities: Provide clear career paths and development opportunities for experienced salespeople. This could include promotions, specialized training, or opportunities to take on new organizational roles.
- International sales opportunities: If applicable, involve them in international sales, which come with unique challenges and learning opportunities.
- Project involvement: Sales Process Optimization: Get their input on optimizing the sales process or implementing new sales tools and special projects: Assign them to special projects, like piloting a new sales tool or strategy.
The importance of variety
In both CrossFit and sales management coaching, the importance of variety cannot be overstated. Just as CrossFit incorporates a "workout of the day" (WOD) to introduce diversity into training, sales managers should also diversify their coaching and training methods.
Here are some key areas where variety can make a significant impact:
- Product training: Ensuring that the sales team has a deep understanding of the products or services they are selling is essential. Product training equips them with the knowledge needed to effectively communicate the value to potential customers.
- CRM/MEDDPICC coaching: Regularly refining the sales process is critical. By coaching the team on effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) usage and implementing methodologies like MEDDPICC, you ensure they have the tools to navigate complex sales scenarios.
- Introducing new sales tools: The sales landscape continually evolves with new tools and technologies. Sales managers should stay up-to-date with the latest tools and train their teams to leverage them effectively.
- Working on objection handling: Handling objections is a fundamental skill in sales. Regularly practicing objection-handling techniques can enhance a salesperson's ability to address customer concerns and objections effectively.
- Content development: Providing valuable content, such as sales scripts, presentations, and marketing collateral, can empower the sales team to engage prospects and customers more effectively.
- Recording sales calls for review: Recording and reviewing sales calls can offer valuable insights into the sales process. It allows sales managers to provide feedback and identify areas for improvement.
The key to incorporating variety effectively is to focus on constructive coaching rather than reprimanding or pressuring the team. By introducing new elements into the training regimen and nurturing a culture of continuous learning, sales managers can help their teams adapt to changing circumstances and excel in diverse situations. In this article, I’ve written some examples of “WOD” exercises that give your team a daily workout to drive variety.
In sales management coaching and CrossFit, the journey to excellence follows a parallel path. Both demand unwavering dedication, disciplined execution, and a commitment to continual improvement. Whether you're leading a sales team or pursuing your fitness goals, remember that success is not a destination; it's a journey.
For more on developing and refining your B2B SaaS sales processes, see these related resources: