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Early in John Wooden’s coaching career, his team had a hotshot player. He was arrogant, self-absorbed and put his needs before the needs of the team. This ego-centric player took far too many shots and did not involve other players in the offense, contrary to the style of basketball that Wooden was noted for. In basketball vernacular, he was a “gunner.” Yet, he was by far the teams’ most talented player, but Coach Wooden knew that one guy will never beat a team of five competitors.

During one game where the player’s selfishness was on full display, Wooden had seen enough. He instructed the other four players on his team to run to the half court area when the hotshot player had the ball – and just stand there. And do nothing. The player quickly discovered that he needed the other players to be successful. Playing all alone – one against five – the young gunner learned a valuable lesson. Forget scoring a basket – he couldn’t even get a shot off!

Coach Wooden knew something that his young player was quickly learning – it takes ten hands to score a basket. Each of the five players on offense had a role. Maybe it was quick reversal of the ball or setting a good screen to help free the shooter. Or making a quality pass at just the right time. In basketball, when a player scores a basket, in every case, he or she needs the help of the others.

Have you ever met salespeople like the young gunner? I have. They believe that the deals they close are due only to their own superior efforts. They are the proverbial “straw that stirs the drink.” It’s all about them and they show little gratitude for the other folks that are in the office supporting their efforts.

Sales, like basketball, is a team sport. The marketing department provides brand awareness and helps the sales team by staying top-of-mind with their customers. They generate leads that lead to conversations with potential buyers. There is a manager who is supporting and coaching and an owner who invests in training and incentive plans. There are service teams who do great work and help cultivate happy customers who give referrals and testimonials that make the job of the sales team infinitely easier. Even the receptionist who answers the phone and gets callers to the right person plays an important role.

The hotshot salesperson who doesn’t recognize that sales is a team effort is incredibly misguided and short-sighted. As most CEO’s will tell you – EVERYONE is in sales. And every time a sale is made, there are a lot of hands involved. Not just the salesperson.

Yes, in sales, in takes ten hands (or more!) to make a sale. The wise salesperson will recognize that sales is truly a team effort. They acknowledge those that make their jobs easier. Handwritten thank you notes, small gifts, gift cards or bringing lunch into a supporting department will go a long way in fostering an environment of warmth and appreciation. And the future success of all.

 What are some of the ways you have recognized those that support your sales efforts?

Check out this blog post to learn more about showing your team appreciation!

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