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By Liz Stone September 13, 2017

3 Sales Leadership Takeaways from Vince Lombardi’s “To Be Number One” Speech

“Winning is not a sometimes thing; it’s an all the time thing” is one of legendary coach Vince Lombardi’s most famous lines. It comes from his motivational speech “What It Takes to Be #1”, in which he provides a glimpse into his coaching philosophy which can be applied to any kind of organization, including that of sales.

Lombardi’s words on winning are ones to live by for anyone in a position of sales leadership. The terms “winning” and “sales” are frequently combined for good reason – sales is all about winning. It's about...

  • ...providing a solution to your customer that helps them succeed
  • ...reaching your company goals and making the number
  • ...beating the competition, fair and square
  • ...bringing your “A” game every day and on every task
  • ...constantly fine-tuning your strategy to be just that much better.    

At its core, Lombardi’s speech identifies three characteristics critical to being a great sales leader: discipline, competitive spirit, and passion. 

On Discipline

You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit.”

Like any habit, leadership requires rigor, discipline, and consistency to become the norm. Good habits will lay the foundation for your success, such as cultivating a structured daily routine, planning each week ahead of time, regularly communicating with your team to ensure they’re staying on track, and following a leadership style that is respected and trusted by your colleagues. Sales leadership is time-consuming and mentally grueling; a great sales leader combats this with extreme discipline, strong mental stamina, and an unwavering focus on the end goal – winning.

On Competitive Spirit

The most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there - to compete. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules - but to win.

Sales is a sport – similarly, you make a strategy, work with your team to execute it, and aim to defeat the competition. Successful sales leaders have an unquenchable drive to be the best, and they bring that spirit in everything they do, including developing aggressive sales plans and competitive strategies, coaching and training to their teams to perform at their highest level, and fostering a competitive culture within the sales organization that rewards winning. There are no shortcuts to winning - a real win is the result of creative thinking, dedication, and persistence. 

On Passion

“Some guys play with their heads. That's O.K. You've got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second.”

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Those in your presence can tell if you don’t love what you do, and if that’s the case, it’s highly unlikely that they will love it either. People want to work with people who have irresistible personalities, contagious energy, and a wealth of valuable knowledge. These are all characteristics of the most successful salespeople, and stem from being passionate about the work they do, the product they sell, and the value add it provides. If both your heart and mind are in it, your likelihood of winning the trust of your team and the business of your prospect customers has skyrocketed.

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Sales leadership is role that bears great responsibility and has plenty of complexities, but if you can perfect the traits it takes to be #1, you’ll reach Lombardi Status – you’ll become an inspirational leader capable of guiding your sales organization to greatness.

Are you new to sales leadership, struggling in a sales leadership role, or looking to hone specific skills? Contact us about our Sales Leadership Coaching Solution, which improves sales leadership skills in 90 days through individualized coaching led by an expert sales coach.  

Topics: Sales Management, Sales Coaching, Sales Leadership: C-Level & VPs

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