To Coach is to Sell…

I’ve discussed this with some of my peers and most disagree that coaching’s about hustling and selling. In fact, one of them got really annoyed when I suggested that coaches should be put through sales training.

No surprises though, most of us do not perceive the selling profession favourably. I don’t reckon this perception is common only in Singapore. In his bestselling book, ‘To Sell Is Human’, author Dan Pink conducted a survey in the US where he asked people to state the first word that came to mind when they heard “sales” or “selling”, and this is the word cloud that came about…

Pink argues that the above is an extremely outdated perspective about sales. In reality, when we combine traditional selling with “non-sales selling”, all of us sell. Specifically, as part of our work and lives, we need to constantly influence, sway or persuade others to take action. Doesn’t that sound like coaching?

To coach is to sell. We spend most of our time planning and convincing athletes to pay attention, to follow through with practice and even to make lifestyle adjustments. I think it’s a significant part of what coaches do, and it is so vital to our success!

Also, most coaches here operate like small business owners selling their personal brand. So what’s with this reluctance to embrace selling? You are here to make a living by selling a service, no?

It’s annoying (at least to me) that coaches keep harping on the importance of passion, leadership and technical know-how but are so reluctant (or embarrassed) to acknowledge the importance of selling. It almost seems like selling and making monies is in conflict with coaching!

So what if you are so full of passion and possess all sort of technical knowledge? You still need to convince your athletes to practice in a certain way or to buy into your game plan, isn’t it? And for those of you who claim that coaching is ALL about passion, with all due disrespect, passion isn’t gonna make up for your incompetence at selling and to pay your bills lah…

“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 Pink

And why does leadership have to be at odds with selling? According to Robert Greenleaf’s servant leadership, leaders should serve first and lead second. Selling can be the same – sellers can and should serve first and sell second.

Just like Greenleaf puts the leader at the bottom, making him or her the servant of the rest, the seller can do the same, specifically by asking ourselves questions like, “How can I help her improve on her technique? How can I help him learn life skills through sport?” The seller first thinks about serving and over time he will also sell.

Ignore selling at your own peril…

Coach Hansen


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s