With March Madness in full swing, it’s apparent that having an unstoppable and effective process in place rings true not only in sales, but in basketball, too.
This year’s March Madness tournament has already produced some big upsets (..*Cough* Michigan State..) and there’s sure to be more. But what you’ll usually find is the teams that are well-prepared, well-coached, and persistently pursuing the win have a better shot on the court or in the office.
Just like notching W’s in the March Madness tournament, achieving true sales acceleration requires an effective sales strategy with a balance of enhanced speed and control for an unstoppable process.
I’ve outlined the most quintessential parts of a winning strategy for both sales and pretty much any competitive sport into the six most valuable “P’s” (MVPs).
Make sure to stay ahead of the competition by doing research before the game. Prospecting is a critical part of sales acceleration, giving you an advantage over other teams who are simply relying on inbound leads.
The important difference between sales prospecting and depending on marketing leads is that leads sourced from the sales reps themselves automatically come with more background. The sales rep knows exactly why the prospects are a good fit and the rep is more motivated to engage with them successfully.
Getting the jump ball at the start of the game and hitting a quick two point layup might not win you the game, but could help give your team and fans a boost of confidence early on.
In sales, being the first to respond to a buyer may give you an even bigger advantage. In fact, a recent Zogby Analytics study showed that 57 percent of buyers are influenced in their decision by the seller’s speed to respond. By answering incoming leads within a minute, sales reps can more than double their conversion rate.
In basketball, the play call is situational to what is happening in the game. How many points you have on the board, how much time is left on the clock, the strengths of the other team, and much more.
Just like the scoreboard isn’t the only factor for determining a play call, a lead score isn’t the only indicator for determining the highest priority sales activity a rep should be working on. The highest priority sales activity for an individual rep is relative to what else is happening at that time.
For example, if a sales rep has a scheduled appointment with a prospect, that particular sales activity is most likely the highest priority for that rep at that time. For another rep, a brand new high-value lead that was just assigned might be the highest priority sales activity.
When sales reps are juggling hundreds of daily tasks and activities, one can quickly see the value of a system or process to automate the high volume of activities for the sales organization as a whole and for each individual rep.
One bad quarter of play in basketball doesn’t mean your team should give up. Similarly, you cannot always connect with a prospect on the first try. While following up can be exhausting, building relationships takes time and consistency.
Most salespeople give up after making two calls, which might seem reasonable. But if they persisted and made six call attempts, they would have increased their revenue by a whopping 25 percent, according to industry research. Making more calls doesn’t take a lot of time–it’s just a matter of remembering when to follow up.
A championship comes from a series of consecutive wins, not just a single-game performance. To truly accelerate, it’s critical that your engine is running at peak performance, all the time. That means each individual rep is giving 110 percent; not just your top reps but all your reps.
Many sales organizations have turned to gamification to keep their reps engaged and motivated, but unfortunately, many reps lose interest if their name isn’t near the top of the leader board that month. Rewardification is a different approach to driving peak performance. It incentivizes top performers in real time by giving them what they really want, more and better leads.
Let’s face it, gold stars are nice, but most salespeople are more incentivized by tangible rewards.
I am finishing this list with one of the most important P’s because everything on this list comes back to this one thing–process. Whether you are on the court or in the office, a well-defined game plan or process is critical.
A well-defined process is the foundation on which sales acceleration is built. It’s defined by identifying what your best reps do and examining the journey of those prospects that eventually became customers, and then simply replicating those behaviors and patterns again and again in your sales organization.
In fact, industry research has found that top performing sales organizations are 79 percent more likely to have automated or strictly enforced sales processes in place than underperforming ones.
These best practices can be used both for achieving a winning sales strategy and a championship status on the court. The key to success with any endeavor is to have a well-thought-out plan and execute against it.
Wikimedia Creative Commons image by Dennis Adair.