This morning, I started thinking about the past football season, both pro and college, and how some coaches must dread the time period just after their season ends. You would think they’d be enjoying the short respite they have from the game, maybe kicking back a little bit with their families before hitting the recruiting trail and then training camp.
Maybe some are, but no doubt there are others who are wondering if they’ll be sacked like a quarterback with a weak offensive line. Even coaches with great records run the risk of getting fired—just ask Bo Pelini, former head coach at Nebraska. The sad fact is, unless they get to the Big Game, their performance may not be good enough. Look at this quote from school administration officials about Pelini: “Although many games were won, those won did not include those which mattered the most … and that Pelini failed to provide those significant wins given ample time and resources.
Sales is pretty much the same way. Longtime salespeople know there is a massive difference between finishing the year at 97 percent of plan instead of 100. Too many seasons at 97 percent and you may find yourself looking for your next gig.
You Need a Winning Team
The similarity between football coaches and salespeople doesn’t end there. The key to a successful season is to be great at building a winning team. First, the coach needs to recruit the right players—those that will “fit well into the franchise or system,” as they say. Then he needs to work with them to help them be successful in their respective positions. It’s a Win-Win scenario. If individual players don’t win, he’ll never have a winning team. He’ll never make it to the Big Game, and he’ll always be dreading that call from the administration or ownership at the end of the season.
Salespeople need to build their teams, too. We’ve talked many times about building a winning selling team made up of support specialists, product experts, and others who interact with your customers during and after the sale. Helping these colleagues achieve their personal objectives, such as advancement in their own position, will earn you their best efforts on your opportunities.
But too many times, we don’t pay enough attention to the customers on our teams. If during our pursuit of plan, we leave a string of unsuccessful customers in our path, we’ll never achieve the growth we’re looking for. We need successful customers, both as a source of repeat business and to spread the word to our new business prospects. The most successful customers will begin to feel and act like they’re part of our selling team. They’ll care as much about our success as we do about theirs.
Creating successful customers also starts with looking for those who fit well into the franchise. In sales terms, that means they are a good fit for our products. Then we need to understand what a Win means to them, both from the viewpoint of the organization as well as the individual players on our customer’s buying team.
Sales professionals who help their customers achieve their corporate and personal wins aren’t just creating a winning season. With their successful customers supporting them all the way, they’re looking at building a dynasty.
Credits: Miller Heiman