Category Archives: Head coach

Advice to Assistant Coaches on Selling Ideas to Your Head Coach (and Advice to the Head Coach on Selling Ideas to your Board)

Advice to Assistant Coaches on Selling Ideas to Your Head Coach (and Advice to the Head Coach on Selling Ideas to your Board)

by John Leonard

Let me state up front that none of this is “original thinking”. The sales literature in the world is so extensive that literally every idea comes from “someone else”. So with apologies and thanks to the “originators” of these ideas, here goes.

First, when you are selling to the “CEO”, you need to understand first what THEIR concerns are:

1)    Staying “profitable”. The CEO has to make sure the paychecks get written and the bills get paid. They have to do this FIRST, or the organization goes out of business and you don’t have a job. So if you whine “but its always about the money!”, grow up and recognize that you are correct. It IS always about the money. Unless you’re planning on donating your salary to the club this month?

2)    Keeping the majority HAPPY. The CEO has a lot of “constituencies” that they have to please. Make enough people unhappy and you’re looking for a new job. Bringing “correct” but wildly unpopular ideas to the boss is not going to win you a new friend. And it will, if repeated enough times, label you as “difficult”. After you read that, see the last sentence of number one again.

3)    Value. How important is the idea to the success of the organization? CEO’s need to spend their time on the key issues.

4)    Agility. How easy/how fast/how simple is your idea? CEO’s want clarity and simplicity. If you can’t explain it in about one sentence, your idea needs “refinement” before presentation.

So, now you have thought of those things. Lets work on describing your idea in a sentence. (or two, if you have a patient CEO.)

Ask yourself:

1)    Current issues in our business….does my idea impact something that is important to my boss NOW? In the immediate future? Or is it something with a longer timeframe that should wait till a “planning session”?

2)    Does your idea have a direct effect on the CUSTOMER you serve, the swimming family? Or is this idea away from the customer? Most CEO’s will be most amenable to something that positively impacts swimmers and/or parents on the team.

3)    Impact – does the idea provide a lot of “bang for the buck?” if so, you’re in business!

4)    ROI – What is the “Return on Investment” that the CEO will get if they invest money and time in your idea? Conversely, what is the negative ROI “risk on investment”. If return is high and risk is low, you’re in business. If return is low and risk is high, better think twice before presenting it. If they are about even, rethink. How can return go up and risk go down?

Now, you’ve analyzed your idea. Time for action. Recognize that your idea needs great presentation.

Make it fast. Literally try to explain your thought in one or two sentences. CEO’s time is valuable. Clarity is valuable.

  1. Review the financial impact first. Does it bring in money? Cost money?
  2. Review the return. Why should they “buy” this idea? This is the CONCLUSION you have drawn from your thinking.
  3. If the CEO is interested in the CONCLUSION, then they will ask you for the story itself.
  4. Be prepared to provide the story in either full oral or written fashion.
  5. In either oral or written, give FACTS that support your conclusion, not “feelings”. Decisions based on data are much more powerful than your intuition.

What else many enter into the decision?

First, your reputation. Do you traditionally bring the CEO good ideas? Is this the first idea you have ever brought to the CEO? Or, on the negative side, have ideas you have brought before been not exactly raging successes? If so, see number 6 above. You’re fighting an uphill battle, be VERY PREPARED with facts.

Second, the reality in life is that the CEO often likes to be the person with the good ideas. This is a about a little thing called ego. Sometimes, it has to become the idea of the CEO before it gets accepted. This outrages some people. In the real world, if you want to see your idea implemented, you forget that it’s “yours” as soon as possible and it becomes “ours”.

The nice thing about this progression is that over time, as you learn how to prepare your ideas by thinking like a CEO, you are preparing yourself to become one. And at some point, someone else will have their ego in play on your idea, and you will decide “gee, I can do this myself” and find a way to become the CEO yourself.

Then you’ll get to make all those cool decisions and live with the consequences of your ideas and the ideas of others.  Congratulations!

Coaches: Sign up for ASCA’s Swim Parent Newsletter Today

Coaches — Add another tool to your arsenal today with an annual subscription to the Swim Parent Newsletter!

The Swim Parent Newsletter is a weekly publication coaches can use as a parent education tool.  Each week we publish a topic we think will be valuable to your swim team parents.

Recent titles include:

“Do We Really Want our Children Drinking Energy Drinks?”

“Guidelines For Going On The Road,”

“2 a Day Workouts for 12 and Unders?”

“Resolving Conflicts with the Coach”

“The Praise Craze”

“The Nature of Stroke Work”

“Enough Already With Kid Gloves”

ASCA’s Swim Parent Newsletter is emailed to 44,000 families each week by the coaches who subscribe to this highly relevant parent education resource. What do other coaches have to say about Swim Parent Newsletter?

  • “Wow! Good one! Thanks!”
  • “This is what I needed to send to one of my parents who pushes his daughter too hard,”
  • “The Swim Parent Newsletter is amazing. My team loves it! It’s so great that it can actually be applied to any sport!”

Subscribe at the ASCA online store or call us at 800.356.2722.  An annual subscription is only $25.  Click here for a advanced copy of the next issue. What are you waiting for?  Sign up today!

Don’t Miss Out on the Clinic of the Dakotas!

April 29- May 1, 2011

Butler Machinery Education Center

3401 33 ST S

Fargo, ND 58104

Sponsored by North Dakota and South Dakota Local Swim Committee, American Swimming Coaches Association, FINIS, Speedo and Epic Sports


David Salo – Head Coach of University of Southern California and former Head Coach of Irvine

Guy Edson – American Swim Coaches Association Technical Program Director

Randy Julian – USA Swimming Sport Development Consultant

Mike Stromberg – Head Coach of Falfins Swimming


Friday, April 29

1:00 – 4:45 Starts, Turns, and Finishes – Guy Edson, ASCA course sponsored by FINIS

5:00 Registration for those not attending Starts, Turns & Finishes Course

5:30 – 6:30 Coaches Roundtable:  The current state of swimming in the Dakotas. Moderated by Randy Julian, USA Swimming

6:45 – 8:00 Preparing a Club Swimmer for College Swimming – David Salo

8:15 Team Growth:  Ideas and Tactics You Can Use Today – Mike Stromberg

Saturday, April 30

8:00 Coffee
8:30 – 9:30 Training Philosophy – David Salo

9:45 – 10:45 Sports Psychology You Can Actually Use – Guy Edson
11:00 – 12:00 Breaststroke – David Salo

12:00 – 1:30    Lunch

1:30 – 2:30      Dryland Training Ideas – David Salo

2:45 – 3:30      Test Sets and How to Use Them – Coach Salo

3:45 – 4:45    Questions and Answers with Coach Salo
5:00 – 5:45      Age Group Dryland Training in a Parallel Universe – Guy Edson

Sunday, May 1

8:30 Coffee
9:00 – 10:00 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches – Guy Edson

10:15 – 11:15 Coaches Roundtable: Making Swimming Better in the Region.  Moderated by Randy Julian

Clinic Registration Form

Hotel Information

Expressway Suites 877.239.4303

4303 17th Ave. South – Fargo, North Dakota

Ask for Swim Clinic Rate

Clinic Application Form and Fee:  $85.00 payable to NDLSC

ASCA Course Fee:  $30.00 payable to ASCA

Additional Clinic Information

Mike Stromberg


Additional ASCA Information

Guy Edson