Allen Iversion

Practice? What are we talking about, practice?

It’s NBA playoff time again and for some reason this always reminds me of the now infamous 2002 interview with then-Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson. As you know by now, a reporter questioned Iverson’s effort during practice, which caused Iverson to get so upset that his ensuing tirade became one of the more entertaining moments in the history of the NBA.

“But we’re talking about practice, man,” Iverson said. “What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice, man.”

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this link. In fact this moment is so iconic, Ted Lasso did a highly entertaining flipped version, which you can see here – great stuff!

An Important Lesson

Iverson was a rare talent for sure. However, seeing how his career ended, this clip may also provide one of the most enlightening lessons for professionals in all fields – including sales.

While it’s true that during the interview Iverson accepted responsibility for his actions and even expressed awareness of his need to be a leader of the team, his disdain for practice was evident.

For more than two decades now we’ve seen a similar view permeate the sales profession. Unfortunately for many, if this doesn’t change, many salespeople and sales leaders may find themselves in the same position as Allen Iverson: Looking for something new to do.

Pressure to Perform

Sales organizations will feel increasing pressure to execute better than their competition as businesses shift their focus from cost cutting measures to growing top line performance.

With this pressure comes the need for common processes, and the requirement that people practice their craft in order to develop the habits that will help them execute more effectively in the Held.

Successful individuals and teams must practice skills together in order to identify gaps in their performance, and Hnd opportunities to improve.

While wins and losses allow us to keep score in selling, the fact is customers generally make bad coaches. After all, when was the last time a customer gave you some pointers on how to make a more compelling presentation and scheduled a time to try it again?

Practice Counts

The reality of any performance profession, be it athletics, music, surgery or sales, is that practice makes an enormous difference and represents the greatest opportunity for improvement.

Unfortunately, many sales professionals don’t commit adequate time and attention to this – to their own detriment. Why? Similar to Iverson, they fail to understand that game time performance is ultimately a reflection of the habits created in practice. Many appear to believe that their innate talents will allow them to excel against their competition, and that practice is more trouble than it is worth.

The truth is that Practice is THE KEY to winning. So, if we want a long and prosperous career filled with more wins and fewer losses, we need to consider Allen Iverson’s counter-example and develop the habit of practicing on a consistent basis. And if we want an to build a sales organization that consistently improves its effectiveness through practice, we must start by having coaches that help drive that habit.

Want to learn more about how effective coaching can help create the habit of continuous improvement and support sales excellence? Click here to download our free Guide to Sales Coaching, including a coaching readiness assessment to help you prepare for your sales enablement initiatives.

Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

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