The USA Women's Soccer Team did an entire country proud when it took home the World Cup in early July 2015 with a 5-2 win over Japan. But there was more that went into that victory than just five goals. The team followed a formula for success, which all sales teams can emulate.
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team earned $2 million for winning the World Cup, although money was not their primary motivation for victory. That payout may seem rather diminutive when compared to the $35 million payout the German men's team received for its 2014 World Cup Victory. Nevertheless, there were more factors pushing them to victory other than money.
While patriotism may be a key motivator, losing proved to be just as inspirational. The USA women's team bowed out of the 2011 World Cup on penalty kicks after playing Japan to a 2-2 tie in the tournament's final match. That defeat festered, brewed and haunted Team USA until it had a chance for redemption this year.
Switching gears to the sales game, salespeople are obviously motivated by the financial rewards that come with doing their jobs successfully. However, sales managers cannot rely on that as sole motivation for their teams. Managers can think of their own incentives outside of financial means. Those incentives can include encouragement, support and mentoring. Making each of those incentives a priority will essentially lead to more financial rewards.
However, sales managers cannot motivate everyone the same way. What they can do is hold all of their team members to the same high standards and stay involved with their sales reps by welcoming questions and sharing ideas. It takes a lot to keep teams motivated for long periods of time. But if done consistently, sales reps are eventually going to motivate themselves as well.
Score when it counts
The 2015 World Cup women's final between USA and Japan was the most watched soccer match in U.S. History, that includes both men's and women's matches. FOX Television estimated that 23 million viewers watched that fated match on July 5th. That audience is on the same level as that of the MLB World Series. All of the sudden, women's soccer has vaulted into the spotlight.
The outpour of support was also felt inside the stadium in Vancouver as many American supporters made the trip up to Canada. And unlike the 2011 World Cup Final, Team USA scored when it counted. It actually jumped ahead quickly with four early goals and never looked back.
In the same breath, sales reps can score early in the game by identifying quality leads. The first step is to make sure the lead meets qualifying criteria. First, find out if that lead is the actual decision maker who is authorized to make a purchase. Secondly, track where the lead came from before investing time trying to sell. Lastly, gather information on the lead and make sure it passes through all through the criteria of what constitutes a qualified lead.
Much like the USA women's soccer team, sales reps should not worry about high-pressure situations. Actually, those situations are only as high pressure as salespeople make them out to be. The USA women's team went about business as usual and won the World Cup. Sales reps and managers can do the same.
Salespeople can control the pressure with their language. Pushy questions like "When do you want to move forward" or "When can I stop by to see you" create unneeded pressure. Instead, reps should try focusing more on solving problems for potential clients and designing their language in accordance with making a sale, not forcing a sale.
It would be a bit cliche to say that teamwork is what won the World Cup for Team USA, but it definitely proved to have its advantages. In its opening game, Team USA relied on excellent goalkeeping from Hope Solo to fight off an early surge by Team Australia. Withstanding a flurry of offensive attacks, USA emerged as 3-1 victors. Solo's streak continued from there as she held opponents scoreless for the next five matches.
By the time the championship match rolled around, it was Carli Lloyd's early hat trick that brought the nation to its feet. While those three goals were the highlights of that final game, there were a lot of other reasons that led to victory. While some teams in the tournament may have rivaled Team USA in talent, the American women would not be outworked. After a tie with Sweden, the team relied on sound defense and goalkeeping to complete one shutout after another.
Sales teams can take a lesson from that kind of work ethic as perseverance often determines the difference between a good and bad salesperson. Customer relations also tend to grow when customers are able to work with more than one sales rep. It doesn't mean passing off clients from one sales rep to another. It means having more than one sales rep become very familiar with current clients. It is as simple as passing the ball down a soccer field.
Teamwork cannot be overstated in sales as working together can not only strengthen sales, but help analyze strategies as well. Members of a team can share which sales pitches work and which do not. Constant communication is key to developing the real sense of a team. Just because people work together does not automatically make them a team. There has to be an ongoing and concerted effort to pass around ideas and strategies, which ultimately lead to achieving a goal.
Sales teams can continue to strive for their own World Cup with a brand new tournament beginning every week.