No team can ever succeed without a competent individual controlling the game. Whether your game is basketball or sales, there needs to be someone leading the team in the direction of success. In sales, that person is called a sales manager and on the basketball court, that person is a point guard.
The Point Guard of Sales
A point guard has to know the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates. The point guard also needs to know when one of his teammates is going to make a back door cut or pop out to the top of the key. Sales managers may not have to know how to run a pick and roll, but they need to be familiar with the strengths, weaknesses and personality traits of each of their sales reps.
That knowledge will allow managers to dish out responsibilities to those most capable of handling them. For example, team members who specialize in problem solving can be passed the responsibility of coming up with costumer solutions.
Team members who are stronger with presentations and have the ability to persuade can be trusted with the responsibility of thwarting off the competition. It would not make sense to pass this responsibility off to team members who are more skilled in organizational skills and the planning process.
A point guard must also understand exactly how each play is run. When a player sets a screen and frees up another player for an open shot, it does not happen by accident. It is all part of a greater scheme.
Sales managers are entrusted with a similar scheme. When sales reps show up to work, they need to know exactly where to direct their time and energy, just as if they were running a play on a basketball court. And it is the sales manager’s job to lead them in the right direction.
There needs to be a plan in place to push team members towards high-priority assignments. Time management is also a major key to running a productive sales team. One way to ensure this is through the use of calendar blocking.
Winning with a Team Approach
A point guard sets the tone for the team to win. It doesn’t really matter if one player scores 40 points and the team loses. The bottom line is everyone needs to be held accountable for doing their job. When that happens, a team usually succeeds.
The same could be said for sales reps that worry only about commissions. But how is an individual supposed to be motivated every day when their pay is based off sales and not salary?
It happens by implementing structure and accountability. Sales reps need to be held accountable for everything they do. Whether or not they score 40 points is irrelevant. The days in which they are a high scorer or a no scorer, their accountability has to be the same.
That comes from a sales manager enforcing the same rules, guidelines and structure every day. Deadlines need to be met, quotas need to be reached and office rules need to be followed. It is up to the manager to maintain this level of accountability throughout the entire team.
There are only five players on the court during a basketball game. That means that sooner or later, the point guard is going to have communicate with a player in a one-one-one manner. There needs to be talk of how they are going to combine forces to beat the defense. Keeping that one-on-one communication open throughout a game is essential to scoring points.
One-on-one weekly meetings between sales reps and their manager are just as essential. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out meeting, but rather a conference to discuss things like the weekly itinerary and expectations for the future. It also provides sales reps with the opportunity to address any questions or concerns.
By engaging in this type of discussion, sales managers get to know more about each of their team members. This helps in numerous ways and is much more productive than settling for quarterly reviews, which have more of a formal, evaluation-type of feel to them.
A Vision That Leads
When dribbling up the court, a point court showcases one of his most integral skills; his vision. In this context, it does not refer to 20/20 vision, but the ability to see things before they develop. Having good vision allows a point guard to maneuver accordingly and create the best possible ways to generate points.
A sales manager must also have good vision when it comes to leads. If sales managers allow their teams to start chasing poor leads, it is pretty much a plan for failure. It wastes time, lowers sales and can even hurt morale.
It is up to the sales manager to have the foresight to know which leads should be pursued and which ones will most likely amount to nothing. In the event that sales reps develop their own leads, managers need to check on them and make sure their reps are not just running into dead ends.
Sales managers can also utilize a CRM system to track every lead among their team. This will provide more organization for the entire sales team and does not require the use of spreadsheets, notes or daily calendars. Statistics often tell a lot of the story when it comes to both sales and basketball. A CRM is a kind of stat sheet for sales managers looking to win that big game.