Episode 24 - The Process - Another Lesson from Nick Saban


The Process

Because of his success winning national championships, Nick Saban is now the most successful active college football coach in history.  He wrote a book called, “Think Like a Warrior” where he described what he calls “The Process” as his secret to success.  Simply put, Saban shares that “The Process” is maintaining a relentless focus on things that we can control.  It also means not being distracted by the opponent’s perceived strengths or the score, but rather do your job so that you can contribute what you have control over.

How many times in your channel job have you gotten distracted over your development team missing a product release date, the reorganization that you think is coming to realign resources, or an install that is taking too long based on that final circuit?  Saban teaches his team that they are responsible for what they create, not what the other team has going on that they can’t control.

So, when we look at Saban’s “the Process”, how can we apply this and other things that he’s doing to the channel?

First, worry only about the things you have control over. Stress comes from things that we feel we can’t control.  On game day, there are a million small things that happen on and off the field that could drive players and coaches crazy....the way the ref made that call...the dropped punt and turnover....the missed pass or fumble.  The list is endless.  Saban coaches his players and his staff to not consume themselves with things that they can’t control but focus on what they can deliver.  

If you are a channel manager, you have control over which partners you spend time with and how you teach them to interact with you.  You can’t control how often they will refer deals and if those deal will translate to revenue.  If you are in channel marketing, you can control the quality of your materials, campaigns you run or events you produce.  You can’t control what partners will do with the materials you so carefully crafted.

Next, organize the process by breaking it down into its component parts.

Saban breaks his process down into smaller parts so each routine is understandable, manageable and measurable.  We develop software at Convey.  No task takes our developers more than a day or two and each new feature is compiled of many smaller tasks that we can manage and measure to keep us on track.  Those of us in the channel managing complex sales processes, commissions, installations or other processes should take a lesson from Saban’s playbook to take a big process, break it into its component parts then track and measure it.

Don’t get anxious about impending situations.  How hard do you think it is to win in the SEC?  You have a balanced league with teams like Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Florida who are perpetual powers.   Saban is known to be hyper-focused with a work ethic that is unparalleled.  He keeps his eye on the prize, winning, and doesn’t pay attention to those other teams that try and distract him or what they may do in the future.

It’s easy to be distracted in the channel with one eye on the competition, the partner who is complaining the loudest, or with things that are not in your control.  Staying focused and minimizing those distractions is critical to make sure you have the right orientation to keep your eye on the prize – revenue.

Strive to be liked, but don’t obsess over it is another play in his playbook.
Nick Saban may easily be the best coach in college football because he's got a keen sense of understanding that you become the best by hiring the best. Sometimes we fear hiring people that are better than we are because they might outshine us, replace us, threaten us or be better liked.  If your channel program is going to grow, you have to develop “bench strength” in your channel managers, your marketing team and your support players. 

The best people that lead channel teams are also the most decisive.  They don’t consume themselves if their decisions will make them more popular.  They focus on if that decision is good for the business.  I can’t imagine Saban obsessing over his popularity when it comes time to pick the starting quarterback or create his game strategy.

Practice makes perfect, well almost.
Saban knows that in football good practice helps Alabama perfect their plays and their skills.  He expects 100 percent in every practice and focuses on those results as much as he does game results.  Saban believes if you focus on the process it will get you the results.  So how does that translate in the channel? 

Convey has done a number of lunch and learns and webinars where the presenter didn’t practice, hone their message, and focus on delivering good content.  Those events often end up in boredom and disengagement.  What about the channel managers who fail to learn their elevator speech about the program only to get tongue tied when they encounter partners at a trade show?  I think you get the point.  If it’s important, you should practice if you want to get the best result.

Saban requires that players look the best because they want to be the best.

I’ve been in Tuscaloosa and watched players walk from their hotel to the stadium to get dressed for the game.  They wear suits, look like winners, and are professional.   They stand out.  So, in the channel, what style do you want your team to exhibit so it’s reflective of your personality and professionalism.  I never like seeing channel team members looking out of step with each other by being overdressed or underdressed when they are at events.  I helped a vendor at a Vegas channel show who had rented the largest booth and bought his team coordinating outfits for each day.  Yet, they showed up wearing whatever and looked like they didn’t belong together.  The personality that was conveyed was lack of unity, professionalism and lack of teamwork.


One of the key elements that has made Nick Saban successful is that he commits to a process that helps him stay focused and keeps his team and coaching staff undistracted.  Others can understand that there is a process for everything, and processes are understandable because they are broken into smaller parts.  He doesn’t worry about what other teams are doing and stays focused on the Crimson Tide.  And he’s not threatened by talented coaches on his staff or that his decisions will make him less popular.

Channel teams should have a process that they articulate to their team members that help them focus on their job and what’s in their control, focus on processes that will make them and their partners successful, not worry too much about competitive moves and make decisions without fear that are in the best interest of the program and their partners.  Do this and you’re on your way to a winning channel program.