If you want your sales to pick up, you need to pick up this book.  Crack it open and get ready to work!  Bill Good, the master of marketing and prospecting, will walk you down the road to success.  --Chris Gardner, CEO, Chris Gardner International Holdings, best-selling author, The Pursuit of Happyness

Great Coaching: Personal Best

Anyone who has ever had a great coach is forever changed and touched. My best coach was my high school band director, Herb Hazleman.

Mr. Hazleman graduated from the University of North Carolina, and as he told it, his goal on leaving school was to create the best high school music department in the country. Fortunately for me, he accomplished his goal the year that I was a senior in high school.

I played the saxophone. We were supposed to start our music training in the fourth grade. But by the second grade, I was so eager to start that my parents got me special permission from the school board to join the band right away.

While everyone in the school was encouraged to take music, it was very clear that if you didn't cut it, you certainly did not get to play in the concert band. The best musicians from the elementary schools fed into the junior high schools, and the best of those into the concert band at the junior high level. And then all of those musicians fed into the music system in the one senior high school in Greensboro. And the best of those made it to the concert band.

At the beginning of my senior year, we were awarded a composer-in-resident status by the Ford Foundation. Mr. Hazleman composed two very difficult, symphony-grade pieces. In the spring of my senior year we were scheduled to present these to the Southern Music Educators Conference. The attendees would, of course, have been Mr. Hazelman's peers. A poor performance was not an option.

So he laid down the rules. We were to practice an hour a day. If we slacked off, we would not be eligible to go on the trip. He had a number of assistant band directors. They were the teachers. They worked with us one-on-one. He was the head coach. While there was no one in the band who liked him, most of us would have jumped in front of a truck if it was going to hit him. We knew as we practiced daily, that he was extracting the best performances that we would ever give, the likes of which we had never before been confident enough to assume we were capable of doing.

As we got closer to the event, we started Saturday, and even a few Sunday afternoon rehearsals. A week before, we gave a concert for the school. During the few days before we left, he made us do only a couple of light rehearsals. He knew by this time we were as good as we were going to get, and he wanted us to taper off a bit. Then on a Wednesday, or perhaps a Thursday, we got on the buses and went to Nashville, Tennessee.

On the night of the event the air felt so highly charged we joked that if someone struck a match we would all be incinerated. As the curtain rose, I looked out on the largest audience I have ever seen. Mr. Hazleman walked on the stage as if he were the conductor of the New York Philharmonic®. He bowed and turned to us, smiled, raised his baton, and launched us into the most difficult piece of music I had certainly ever seen or played.

With the exception of one note, which we all heard, it was perfect.

After the concert, other band members all reported feeling the same thing when his baton came down. We were perfect. We knew it. It was electric.

At the end of our performance, the audience jumped to its feet. We laughed. We cried. We hugged each other. And not a one of us had known until that moment that Coach Hazleman had gotten us to the finish line. But in the rush of the cheering we then understood what he had done.

It was a moment of true accomplishment that we, collectively, will never forget.

He was a great coach, the best I ever had.

Can I work these kinds of miracles with you through a book, even if it is a coach in a book? I guess you will need your own sales prospecting coach to find out.