How To Win at the Sport of Selling

Just like with any other sport, you need the best equipment, a hunger for knowledge, and the right game plan.

What would your attitude toward selling be if you approached it as you would your favorite sport? In working with sales teams through the years, that simple question is often enough to shift from “selling is something we have to work at” to “something we can have fun with.”

If you were an avid golfer or fly fisherman, you would be reading books and magazines to find the latest tip or insight to add a few more yards or catch a few more fish. You would gather with others who enjoyed your sport to discuss it and tell fish stories. Just as we would want the best and most effective equipment to play our sport, in sales we would also want the best marketing material, database management software, website, portfolio, and all of the other tools that would help us to close one more sale or capture another lead.

Practice makes perfect

It could be estimated that the difference between a professional athlete and an amateur is about 10,000 hours of practice to perfect their skills. How many hours did you or your sales team practice last week on improving their sales skills? Practice generally takes place outside of the actual game, just as our sales practice should take place only when we are not in front of an actual customer.

One of the most effective but underutilized practice techniques is role-playing. It is a major breakthrough for a sales team when they get up the courage and discipline to add role playing to their sales meetings. You are having sales meeting aren’t you? Running a no-huddle offense in business can be the best way to lose in sales.

Keeping score drives performance

What makes a sport a game rather than an activity is the fact that some form of scorekeeping appropriate to that sport is taking place. Go out in the driveway with your children this evening and shoot a few baskets, and watch the intensity and focus change when you challenge them to a game of PIG.

Keeping score in sales brings in a sense of purpose and focus that will help your sales team to be more effective and committed to reaching sales goals. Having clearly defined sales goals so that each person or team knows what is expected for the month is the first step in increasing sales.

When you are sitting in a stadium this summer watching a baseball game, imagine what it would be like if there was not a big scoreboard somewhere that let you know exactly what the score is, along with other information that would eventually affect the outcome of the game. The enthusiasm for each play of the game would not be there if we didn’t know who won until somebody brought out a spreadsheet at the end and said “this team won.”

Real sports fans want the numbers and statistics that help us enjoy the game at a deeper level. The same is true in sales. When the scoreboards are up for everyone to see, the energy level to improve the scores by making more sales will also be up.