The most recent Super Bowl saw the New England Patriots emerge victorious because of an interception in the final minute of play. Many couldn’t believe the Seattle Seahawks’ decision to throw the football in that situation. Many also still believe that one bad call cost Seattle the championship.

But what about the other 122 plays that took place before that fated moment? It’s a little short-sighted to think that none of those play-calls mattered and one single decision cost Seattle a Super Bowl championship.

The same could be said of sales. Closing a major deal is a process, much like four long quarters of a football game. What happens on the first few plays could be just as important as what happens on the play before the end of the first half.

Now, an erroneous blunder of great magnitude could nix a deal altogether. However, on professional sales teams, members are not expected to make catastrophic blunders that could cost their company the game. And if they do, that individual gets cut from the team right away.

Every Play Counts

Every play contributes toward success or failure and when you have more good plays than bad, you win. That holds true whether it be in sales or a Super Bowl. Your successful sales will also be a process that doesn’t always go smoothly. You may take some hits and lose some yards in the process.

In football, poor teamwork over the course of a game is responsible for a bunch of setbacks like incompletions, fumbles and a loss of yards. That same lack of teamwork applies to sales teams. When a sales team fails, there are always reasons.

Some sales teams rely too much on intuition and don’t pay enough attention to their analytics. Data-based information can be extremely helpful in closing a sale. Not using that information would be like the Seahawks ignoring what kind of defensive set the Patriots were lined up in during any drive in the Super Bowl.

Sales teams also need to realize that closing a sale does not happen with one big play. Overselling too early is not going to win over very many clients. It takes time to build relationships so stop trying to close the deal with one Hail Mary touchdown pass.

The Buy-In Factor

Before any progress can occur, sales team members have to ‘buy-in.’ It is the same way football players ‘buy in’ to the team concept. Communication is also essential in every team setting. A play gets called and it is up to the team to execute. A team that doesn’t communicate will go off in different directions and ultimately fail. The importance of ongoing communication is essential to success, especially in the business world.

Communication with the potential buyers is just as important. Focus on their needs by asking open-ended questions. Sometimes, more listening than talking is the most successful way of communicating. It also shows your devotion as a sales rep and helps clients 'buy-in’ to your overall sales pitch. Listening is also a great way to build trust.

Winning The Early Parts of the Game

An early touchdown by the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl had a significant effect on the final score of Super Bowl 49. Without their first-quarter touchdown, the Patriots would not have won. Successful sales also date back to the beginning of the process.

The early part of the sales process includes building relationships. Small things like sharing inside knowledge, sending hand-written notes, or getting to know a client’s background could be small gains that add up in the end.

Winning the sale also comes with listening closely to a client’s needs. You may pick up on something that can be used later on in the process. File that information away in your mind and remember it. It may be something such as a small interest, a like or dislike. It may only seem like a 2-yard gain at the time, but that same play could turn into a long touchdown later on.

Celebrate Wins

Once the Super Bowl is over, confetti falls down on the field, fireworks explode and the winning team shares lots of hugs and smiles. Closing a sale might not always come with such fanfare, but it should. A sales team needs to be recognized for their accomplishments. However, it does not have to be as elaborate as the post-game Super Bowl festivities. How to celebrate a win can even be a group decision.

But the celebration should not be relegated to the end of the game. During the sales process, there are going to be small wins by your team. Recognize those wins and celebrate them. It shows that all the individuals on your sales team play a prominent role in the overall success. This can do wonders for morale and motivation.

Celebrations do not have to be elaborate, sometimes acknowledging one person’s success in front of a group can go a long way. It could come through a mass email. Added perks such as gift cards, gift certificates and even small bonuses to entire sales teams can have tremendous effects over the course of a year as well.

The most important part is to identify success and let team members enjoy it. Even when done in small doses, the positive results could be contagious. And over time, many celebrations won’t take going into overtime when it comes to closing a deal that could seem like the Super Bowl to sales teams.

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