Photo credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Managing a team, whether it’s a sales team or a football team, is not easy. Expectations are always high, and all eyes are on you as a manager to teach your staff, maintain productivity and generate results. If you’re looking to model your styles and techniques after someone, why not hone in on a championship football coach? After all, they’ve found success at the pinnacle of sports competition. And they certainly luck into it.

Let’s look at three championship football coaches and highlight what they do better than their counterparts to achieve long-term success. Which coach might you want to be?  

The Clear Expectations Coach

We’re sure you’ve heard of Bill Belichick, six-time Super Bowl champion and head coach of the New England Patriots. You may be familiar with his monotone press conferences or his infamous cut-off sweatshirts on the sidelines. In 19 years leading the Patriots, Belichick has built an elite on-field product through a “no-nonsense” mindset and an unrelenting pursuit of success. 

He embraces a team-first mentality, which is quite an accomplishment when there’s such a disparity in pay and ego amongst the players. However, players know they have to follow the rules Belichick sets or they aren’t playing. It’s that simple. While it’s overly strict, players also know that they may very well end up with a championship ring, which is the ultimate motivation!

To emulate Belichick’s management style with your team, you’ll want to:

  • Set clear expectations. Your team should know precisely what you expect from them, and the repercussions if they don’t comply. 
  • Hold everyone to the same standard. Your top performer doesn’t get a ‘pass’ on missing the weekly sales meeting. When you treat everyone the same, you reinforce the team mentality that works so well for the Patriots. Do your job. 
  • Be consistent. Having a documented sales process is a critical component of sales success. From hiring and onboarding to training and everyday execution, have a consistent process and system for everything. Leave nothing to chance!
  • Hire for coachability. Belichick’s success relies heavily on recruiting smart, adaptable players. He doesn’t look just at what players have done, but what they could do with additional coaching. Look for sales candidates who aren’t arrogant; you want to find those who are confident but understand there is always more to learn. They will be open to feedback and that will ultimately elevate their performance and that of your team.

Maybe you want your management style to be a little more fun-loving than Belichick’s, but you can’t argue the results!  

The Smart Recruiting Coach

Nick Saban, five-time national champion head coach of the University of Alabama football team, has crafted a dynamite formula for repeat achievement. While only a select few people have access to the formula, his dominance at every phase of the game is no secret. Similar to Belichick, Saban’s players know that a championship is likely around the corner when joining his program.

Saban is obviously an excellent coach, but what he does better than most coaches is recruit top talent. He has an eye for the top players and makes sure he gets the ones he wants. 

To be like Saban, you’ll want to:

    • Increase your budget for hiring. The best sales professionals will expect a higher salary and better commissions. Plain and simple. If you want to pay your reps less and coach them to success over time, that’s great. But if you want ‘rock stars’ straight out of the gate, be prepared to pay for them! 
    • Keep egos in check. Much like Belichick, Saban makes sure every player knows they are on the same level and everyone has a job to do. On a sales team, everyone has a role and must contribute to the overall company revenue goals to accelerate growth. Every contribution matters.
    • Follow the process. Whether things are going good or bad at any given moment, Saban tells his teams to focus on the process of becoming champions and nothing else. With your sales team, emphasize the importance of following the sales process because it was created for a reason! 

The Character Coach

Sean Payton has coached the New Orleans Saints since 2006 and has a Super Bowl title to his name as well.

Like Nick Saban, Sean Payton’s success has a lot to do with his savvy hiring skills. But Payton approaches the draft a little differently. In addition to looking for great football talent, he searches for players with a strong character. He has no tolerance for divas or selfish players. His recruits are hard-working, honorable and trust-worthy men and that is what bonds the teammates together. Payton is able to build trust and respect amongst his team and as a result, they work hard for each other. And like both Belichick and Saban, Sean Payton sets clear expectations and players coming in know they’ll be held to higher standard than ever before.

To be a coach like Sean Payton, you’ll want to:

  • Focus on character-searching questions during the interview. While many sales leaders focus on sales quota achievement, prospecting prowess and close rates, you should spend more time asking value-based questions. Get to the heart of their integrity and work ethic to determine if they’ll be the right fit for your team…and your company.
  • Set expectations prior to hiring. Don’t wait til you onboard a new sales rep to share your expectations. They should know exactly what they are agreeing to when they accept the role. 
  • Motivate using visuals. Sean Payton brought in the Lombardi trophy, a Super Bowl ring and $200,000 in cash to his team meeting prior to the playoffs. He said “You want this? Win 3 games.” That made an immediate impact and reminded the team in a visual way what they were working for. If you reward the top salesperson with a Rolex, bring one in. Do they get a trip to a tropical place? Run a Powerpoint with pictures from the resort. Seeing the goal can make it more tangible.


We have outlined the most successful traits and behaviors of 3 of the winningest coaches in NFL history. There are common denominators in their success: clear expectations, following a process, treating everyone as equals, and hiring based on their specific beliefs on what will work best for their organization. Whether you cheer for their teams or they are your team’s rival, every sales leader can learn something from how they’ve achieved such great success, year after year. 

FRONTLINE Selling has been successful for 16+ years because we have a proven process that our team (and our clients!) use for every single sales prospecting outreach effort. Our consistent approach to sales prospecting and Staccato sales training is what sets us apart the rest. Let us show you how!