Selling: Winning Blister Free

 By: Stephen Smith

For Coach John Wooden,the Wizard of Westwood and legendary UCLA basketball coach, the key to winning ten championships came down to preventing blisters.

During the off season, Coach Wooden was scheduled to attend the basketball camp at Campbell College in North Carolina. Wisely, the Campbell College coach, Billy Smith, planned a meeting with Wooden to pick his brain on how to run a successful program.

When Smith first met Wooden, he explained that this was his first season and wanted to know the basics of how to be a great coach. Wooden replied, “I’ll be happy to do that. Just give me a second.”

As Wooden goes back to his room Smith thinks that he will return with a conditioning method or magical play. Instead, he comes back with a pair of socks. “Billy you can never have a quality team if the team’s feet are not in great shape. Blisters will really hurt your ability to train your players.” He takes his shoes off and starts to show Smith how to properly put on socks. Disgusted, Smith thinks “How can he be the best coach if he won’t divulge anything about how to play the game? This makes no sense!”

After a while, the lesson sunk in. Wooden wasn’t challenging his footwear competency, he was really talking all about the fundamentals. If you have a blister you can’t run; so let’s not talk about running a drill until you know how to put your socks on correctly. And putting your socks on just the right way is only one of hundreds, if not thousands of details that must be addressed by a winner no matter the situation.

This is not a story about getting a single detail right; it is about getting ALL the details right. For any substantial goal you may have in life, there are many tasks to be completed – maybe hundreds or even thousands. Each one of these fundamentals must be completed, and completed well. If a person addresses all these fundamentals, and does them well, they can accomplish great things.

Specifically in the sales world, for each sales-related task skipped, or performed poorly, the probability of losing the deal increases. Albeit perhaps it increases only by a small amount, but it does increase it nonetheless. At the end of any unsuccessful sales campaign, we can analyze this pattern and see that missing minor details, while not in and of themselves significant, will sabotage the deal.

Take if from a sales manager: if my team soundly completes ALL the fundamentals, they will win far more often than their competitor.

What are the 'how to put socks on correctly' fundamentals that are overlooked keys to your personal productivity and professional joy? What are the blisters? What are the small but ultimately debilitating problems that need to be named and addressed as carefully (and gently) as the Wizard of Westwood addressed his athletes about socks?

It really is all about the fundamentals. If you have a blister, you can’t win.

Michelle Martinez