Mon. Apr 22nd, 2019

A Team Sport Where You’re One Your Own

I don’t know why, but back in July of 2015, the great actor Bill Murray tweeted out: “There’s no “I” in team.  There is, however, an “I” in ‘win’, ‘achievement’, ‘prevail’, ‘triumph’, ‘first place’, ‘gold medalist’ and ‘champion.’”

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We’ve all heard that saying, “There’s no “I” in team,” and there’s many variations of what follows (mostly pointing out the i in “win”), but have you ever thought about how this relates to our careers in sports media?

Typically, new sellers are brought in and are told something along the lines of: “It’s like owning your own business,” which is generally implying that this job is what you make of it, we give you the tools and the training and the rest is up to you (probably more accurate to say “it’s like owning your own franchise business”).  Yet most are then placed on some form of “team.”

So, is selling sports media a team or individual sport?  I can think it can be looked at both ways.  With my manager’s hat on, the sales team concept is one that, I believe, can make everyone better.  If there’s a constant sharing of ideas and everyone has the other’s backs I believe the individual seller can greatly benefit.  

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The challenge, often, is getting the group as a whole to buy in and not having one or two people on the team who are not willing to cooperate.  I’ve had sellers in the past tell me they would prefer I not send out or post lists that include their sales numbers or percentages and I’ve never understood that.  Being competitive with others has always been something that drives me to be a better seller.  And I’ve never been one to buy the argument that you don’t want other sellers to know what you make.  If they’re paying attention at all, they should have a pretty good idea without needing to see what percentage to budget you are.

Not that long ago I asked a group of sellers to send me a list of prospects for a certain feature so that I could track how many presentations and sales we made on this particular piece of business.  I had a seller ask me if I planned to show the entire list and when I said that I did he told me he wouldn’t send me the list as he didn’t want others to know who he was pitching.  That thought process baffled me and was a clear indication this person would never buy in to a team concept.

As a seller, I get why some would want it to be completely individual, after all we eat what we kill and I’ve yet to see someone make a sale and hand it off to someone else as a kind gesture.  In the end, we are evaluated by how we do as individuals, so what sense does it make to take our time to help others?  Again, I believe that while there may not be a direct benefit, there are indirect benefits of working together that make it worthwhile.

In the end, I think a great philosopher (Nick Saban) summed it up best with this quote:

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“Now, everybody always says there’s no ‘I’ in team, but there is an ‘I’ in win, because the individuals make the team what it is, and how they think and what they do is important to the team. So when you act like the individual is not important, well, it is damn important who these people are and what they are.”