When Mark was a teenager he was obsessed with tennis. He worked at it every day. He practiced before school in the morning. After school he played as many matches as he could fit in before the light faded. Each Saturday and Sunday, Mark would be found at the tennis club from the moment it opened until the courts were closed.
At 16 years old he was winning every competition he entered in his hometown in Florida. Players that were two and three years older were finding themselves at the receiving end of this kid’s obsession. Mark won game after game and tournament after tournament.
Mark decided he wanted to be a professional tennis player. The only way he could afford the journey was to get a tennis scholarship, and he set his sights on the tennis program at the University of California. To make the shortlist for that program he needed good results in some qualifying tournaments where he would play the best of the best and gain credits towards his goal.
As Mark looked forward to his first qualifying game, he assessed his opponent. John was the same age, used similar equipment, but in Mark’s opinion, there was no way that John wanted it as badly as he did. There was no chance that he practiced as hard. Mark felt good about the battle ahead.
Mark lost 6-0, 6-0.
It turns out that John was in fact John Evert. If you don’t know John, you surely know his sister Chris. Chris Evert won 18 major tournaments during her illustrious professional tennis career – and is probably one of the most successful women tennis players of all time.
As Mark took the journey home from the tournament, he puzzled over what had happened. He knew he had raw talent. He worked harder than anyone else, and he certainly had the desire to win. He wasn’t looking for excuses – he was searching for reasons, something he could learn from. Mark learned an important life lesson on the tennis court that day. He came to the realization that the difference between being a talented practitioner of tennis, and a professional tennis player was the quality of the coaching his opponent received. From an early age, both Chris and John Evert were coached by their father Jimmy at the famous Everett Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida.
Mark didn’t make it as a tennis professional, but he realized that to be a professional in any endeavor, coaching was an essential ingredient. Today Mark is a very successful sales professional and believes with every fiber of his being that the reason he has scaled the heights of his profession is down to the professional coaching he sought out and received through each developmental stage of his career.
Mark told this story at The TAS Group’s recent Global Sales Meeting, as we formally launched The Sales Coaching Office, a sales coaching framework and infrastructure that embeds sales coaching discipline for optimal sales results. It is a partnership between The TAS Group, and our customer to deliver accelerated impact and sustained results. Mark has delivered a 40% revenue increase for his customers using this framework.
And it all started with a game of tennis and the recognition of the need for embedded coaching. Who is your professional sales coach?