Gregg Popovich. The name strikes fear in the hearts of 7-foot-tall, 320-pound men. Mainly because he’s a basketball genius. But what we’re here to talk about today is what he can teach us about inside sales — which is a ton. This should be fun.
Pop, as he’s affectionately called around the NBA, employs a different coaching philosophy than most of his peers. And with four titles and counting, it’s probably working out OK for Old Pop and the San Antonio Spurs, don’t you think?
So how does he do it?
It all starts with faith
Popovich has a lot of faith in his players, his process and his own coaching abilities.
He’s known for giving inexperienced players significant playing time. While other NBA coaches tend to keep their young talent strapped to the bench during crunch time, Popovich goes against the grain and keeps his newbies on the floor.
You don’t have to strain your eyes too hard to see this philosophy in action. Just take a look at what he’s been able to accomplish with Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.
Sometimes he pays the price. His young players aren’t naturally more gifted than everybody else’s. So, they make plenty of mistakes.
But it’s a price Popovich is willing to pay. He knows that he’s preparing them to do battle in the playoffs, when he really needs them to contribute.
By playing his rookies and noobs, he’s also able to give them more feedback and coaching, so they can learn to do the little things that make the difference between winning and losing.
Do you have enough faith to allow your inside sales reps to make mistakes?
Do you provide effective coaching that gradually builds their skills and performance over time?
Or do you stifle their progress by failing to believe in them when the heat is on?
Tough as nails
The other thing Popovich does pretty well is call things as he sees them. You’ll never see him dipping gummy bears in maple syrup because he’s not a fan of sugar-coating the truth. He’s the kind of coach who feels completely comfortable going on national TV and saying things like, “A lot of guys played like dogs today.”
That honesty in the face of adversity allows his players to always know where he stands. They know when they’re meeting his expectations and they know when they’re not. They don’t have to guess or read between the lines.
He’s not afraid to send a guy packing if he feels that it’s the best move for the team. This year, for example, he cut Stephen Jackson at the end of the season, even though Jackson is an experienced veteran who might have provided some valuable playoff minutes.
Popovich worried that Jackson might disrupt team chemistry, so he let him go. And now the Spurs are headed to the NBA Finals, so it doesn’t look as if that decision has hurt the team at all.
Do you provide your inside sales reps direct and honest feedback based on data rather than intuition?
Do you take swift and decisive action when it’s in the best interest of your team?
Or do you tiptoe through the tulips, shying away from delivering bad news and making tough decisions?
I think you know what to do. Go out there and make Pop proud. This blog post was inspired by an excellent analysis of Popovich’s coaching style on ESPN. Check it out here.
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Photo credit: Stuart Seeger