Duckworth’s recently published book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, addresses the question of how to develop grit. Through many great stories and extensive research, Duckworth describes organizations that are creating a culture of grit — where grittiness becomes contagious. People will show more grit when they’re surrounded by people exhibiting gritty behavior.
So, beyond hiring for it, how do you develop grittiness in your sales team? I devoured Duckworth’s new book with this question in mind, and, in an attempt to make it more relevant to sales, I applied many of the concepts from our book and curriculum, “The High-Impact Sales Manager.” As sales leaders and frontline managers, here are the five key factors that can help create a gritty culture on your sales team:
#1 Model gritty behavior.
#2 Have a vision and communicate it.
#3 Set high expectations.
#4 Create a competitive environment.
Competition builds grit. Duckworth shares several stories from Pete Carroll, the celebrated coach of the Seattle Seahawks, that illustrate his ability to create a gritty (and winning) football team. One of Carroll’s mantras is, “Always compete. You’re either competing, or you’re not.” Mike Gervais, one of Carroll’s partners in culture-building, describes it this way: “Compete comes from Latin. Quite literally it means to strive together. It doesn’t have anything in its origins about another person losing.”
Developing a gritty sales team requires creating a competitive, fun environment that encourages people to dig deep and excel. Sales contests, performance dashboards, and publicly shared individual and team accomplishments are all ways to inspire grit through competition.
#5 Provide ongoing coaching to improve performance.
Grit can be developed, and it should be encouraged and coached. High-performing organizations operate with a spirit of improvement. Your management and coaching approach should emphasize open dialogue with team members where you can discuss performance and identify opportunities for improvement — in a non-punitive way. It’s not enough to lay the groundwork and set high expectations; high-performing organizations encourage perseverance and a work ethic where everyone strives to make him- or herself and the organization better than it was the day before. Use coaching skills that create a positive, supportive dialogue, and shared accountability for improvement.
When it comes to improving the grit of your sales team, the payoff is great. With passion and perseverance, your sales reps will push past obstacles and achieve long-term goals. You’re more likely to hit sales numbers. Reps and managers are more likely to stay and be invested in the mission of the company. The grit shown by leaders and peers will leave everyone feeling more fulfilled by their work, and you’ll have a happier, more positive, and more productive workplace.
“Passion is contagious. As sales leaders and frontline managers, it is up to us to model the gritty behavior we’re looking for.”