One of the biggest challenges strength coaches we talk to bring up is the lack of resources allocated to their department. Whether it is a “Power 5” football program or a local high school, the strength and conditioning budget is often made up of what is left over after all other departments budgets are decided; the scraps. Coaches who break this mold are the coaches who are able to sell their value to the organization, build relationships with decision makers, and validate their training program.
Step One: Life of a Salesman
“To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”
― Daniel H. Pink, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
No matter what organization you are in or what role you occupy within it, you are likely going to find yourself stepping into the shoes of a salesperson. In Daniel Pink’s aptly titled To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, he argues that all humans are inherently salesmen and saleswomen. We need to sell our children on the value of their homework, sell our friends on where to eat or what TV show to watch, and sell ourselves to hiring committees during interviews. To get rid the image in your head of the sleazy car salesman, let’s instead think of selling as what it really is: educating.
The reality is that all great coaches excel at sales, especially when you consider the definition of coaching, “the transfer of knowledge from one person to another.” Strength Coaches have to sell what they believe in to their athletes as well as their Sport Coaches every day and are greatly successful in doing so. It is when selling themselves and their program to the decision makers that most coaches fail.
Step Two: Create Trust
Strength coaches get to spend a lot of TIME with athletes over their careers. This advantage of time allows for trust to develop, which leads to great relationships. When there is trust between the athlete and coach, and you are doing something you truly believe in, selling your program to them is pretty easy. Where strength coaches start to get uncomfortable is outside the walls of the weight room. Creating systems and improved technology should allow strength coaches to get out of the chalky heavy metal expletive filled air of the weight room and into the business casual world of head coaches, general managers, athletic directors, and boosters. Spending time with these people will allow you to build relationships and trust within your organization with the decision makers.
“IN A NUTSHELL SIX WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU:
PRINCIPLE 1 Become genuinely interested in other people.
PRINCIPLE 2 Smile.
PRINCIPLE 3 Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
PRINCIPLE 4 Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
PRINCIPLE 5 Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
PRINCIPLE 6 Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People
Step Three: Objectively Validate
The ability to objectively measure your success as a strength coach and validate what you to you in your training program will undoubtedly give your program a seat at the table with the decision makers. They want to see numbers; numbers that matter. Many others in our field have recommended different ways to do this, from injury rates to body comps, and student-athlete surveys to one rep maxes. There are countless assessments and measurements out there, and we at Sparta will admit we have some biases, but whatever you use it should be valid, reliable, and practical. Using these metrics, you should be able to show, objectively, you and your programs value to your organization, and propose additional resources allocated your way will be of value to their interests.
Do yourself a favor: get out of the weight room, spend some time building a relationship with someone outside of your world, and find a way to objectively show your value and validate your program.