It is easy to sit back, watch a basketball game and play the role of a coach from a barstool or sofa. But there is a lot more than goes into a victory than criticizing someone for missing a last-second jumpshot. Every player has a specific role and, in order to win, those roles must be played accordingly. However, it is up to coaches to put their team in a position to win. This is just as true in sales as it is in hoops.

Tightening Up

There are plenty of instances over the course of a hoops contest when a team must tighten up its defense. That could include a box-on-one, a full court press, or switching up to a man-to-man from a 2-3 zone. There are also times when a sales team must tighten up when it comes to their prospecting.

Making too many calls to prospective clients could be nothing more than a huge waste of time. To maximize the use of a sales rep's time, managers should make sure prospective clients are being targeted. That means focusing in on the ideal client.

So who is an ideal client?

Look through your existing clients and then try to match prospects with those already-existing clients. Examine which problems you solve for those clients and then look at which prospects have similar problems that need solving. It will make for a much better use of a sales rep's time.

Keep on Training

Basketball teams play a specific number of games over the course of a season. However, there are plenty of days when no games are scheduled. Those days are not simply wasted away as teams will gather for practice. It is essentially a form of ongoing training that never ceases.  

Training in sales should also have no offseason. 

Training does not have to be formalized in a seminar type of setting. Training can occur during an actual workday. The economy is ever changing so it is important to stay on top of all the latest, shifts, trends and innovations.

Having team members share their daily successes and failures is a way to keep training ongoing. These successes and failures can be conveyed through a team meeting, in a weekly newsletter or via e-mail correspondence among a sales team. Learning what is working and what is not working could help the entire team improve. 

Other tactics could be used to fine-tune the skills that sales reps use every day. Have your team practice leaving compelling voicemails or keep a daily journal. Make it a requirement that sales reps provide a certain amount of questions each week, especially in areas where they may be uncertain. Managers can also provide weekly articles, videos, whitepaper or anything else that might help improve the overall performance of their team. 

Expand on your Wins

In the game of basketball, it's easy to look back and explain how certain games were won. That information can be used to garner more wins in the future. It sounds like such a simple concept. In sales, it is not much different.

Current customers have already gone down as wins. That doesn't mean they cannot be used to generate more scores. It is not always as simple as directing your sales reps to upsell current customers. There are steps to take before that victory can be won and more sales can be made.

In order to grow current customers, there must be a pre-existing relationship with which to expand your business. That relationship can be grown by checking in with existing customers through random phone calls or emails. That correspondence could include some helpful information pertinent to each customer's particular business. Sales managers should make sure their reps are staying on top of these assignments each week with routine correspondence.

There is also the option of offering some complimentary service or products with the hope that the customer will order more in the future. However, timing is everything with this one. These complimentary services should be strategically presented before an eventual pitch. Just as it is in basketball, timing is essential in order for a play to work.

Understanding the Game

Not all basketball games are won because of thunderous dunks or fancy behind-the-back passes. Many games are won because coaches know how to position their players and when to call the correct plays.

The sales game is won the same way.

A good sales manager knows his/her team very well. That helps in drawing up the proper plays at the proper times. For example, sales reps should always know that every sales call should come with an objective. There needs to be a reason and a goal behind every call that is made.

On those calls, reps should also be asking questions that are considered of high-value. That includes asking tough questions. After all, sales reps should ask questions that make their prospects think carefully. Anything else may be just meaningless blather.

When the ball is in the hands of a team member, they need to know what to do with it. When starting a sales presentation, it is a good idea to lead off with a recap of the prospect's current situation. This will make sure that the presentation addresses the prospect's needs. Continue those presentations by focusing on the customer's needs and not just your own company. Customers need to know it is all about them.

Sales managers do not need to be the ones who do everything to make a sale. However, they need to monitor their team and make sure that each move is by design. Success in sales should be drawn up before it is carried out, much like a successful back-door lay up on the basketball court.

 Image Credit: @espncbb

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