Last month I turned on Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. The National League was once again facing the American League and, since the National League hadn't won since 1996, I was pretty sure I knew how it would turn out – the American League would win. I watched long enough to see the American League take the lead and then I changed the channel. I was sure the American League would win.
As even casual baseball fans know, I was wrong. In the end, the NL came from behind to win their first All-Star Game since 1996, ending a run of seven consecutive AL wins and 12 of 13, interrupted by a draw in 2002.
It made me think about how often we switch off and decide there is no way to win long before the decision is made.
In baseball, everything needs to work together for a team to win. A pitcher can have a perfect game but, if no one on his team crosses home plate, he can never win the game. Likewise, with a sales pitch, there are a lot of things that need to work together to make it successful.
- The product or service needs to have a market.
- The sales team and customer service reps need to know the product.
- The sales pitch needs to be fast and on target, and the benefits to the customer need to be tangible.
- More than anything else, you, your sales team and the fans in the stands need to believe you can win.
Putting together a winning sales season
Anyone who has ever tried selling something knows that it's hard. You have to learn to deal with rejection, to get 10 or 20 or more "no's" before you hear that "yes". And after a while, even the best sales rep may start to avoid tough, competitive sales situations that they are sure they can't win.
If you just leave the sales job to your sales reps and don't get your entire organization to give them support and encouragement, you aren't very likely to have a winning season. Align your organization to focus on the customer and support your sales reps, and you can chalk up a few more wins.
A sales team effort
Your best "pitcher" steps up to the plate. He looks towards home for a signal from the catcher. Is there someone there to give him the best pitch to throw to strike out this batter? Or is he standing on a field all alone with no teammates and no one cheer for him in the stands?
Has someone gathered the research info he needs? Is there a customer service team that is ready to make sure the post-sale service is so well executed that reorders are almost a guarantee? Is every point of customer contact focused on maximizing customer satisfaction? Do you take the time to recognize success and celebrate the big sales wins? Does your sales team really know that what they do matters?
Don't let the members of your team think they "know" how the game will end
If they are sure you are going to win the business, they may slack off and your competitor could steal it. And if they are sure you have no chance, nine out of ten times the prospect will see their lack of effort and resignation, and you'll lose the business.
Winners must believe they are capable of winning but they need to be committed to work hard and smart, day after day, to win.
How's your sales team's pitching staff doing? Ask us for advice.