What March Madness Taught Me About Sales

It’s that time of year again (and by that, I mean it’s time to review my March Madness bracket to see what went wrong).

As the buying cycle progresses, many organizations find themselves head-to-head with their competition. Sometimes even 3 or 4 companies are competing for the same deal. So, in a world filled with rivalry, how do you ensure that your organization comes out on top?

Below are five tips to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success as you march through the sales process.

1. Bench depth

A basketball team can’t rely on its starters for 40-minutes of non-stop playtime; they need support, and that’s what the bench provides. Few organizations (if any) can afford a roster full of all-star players. Your bench-warmers and the other 60% of sellers who don’t hit quota every year are the vertebrae of your team. Depth wins championships, so investing in best practices and reinforcing them across your organization is how you win.

2. Rely on your team

Even the most talented players can’t win a game alone. Teams that know how to share the ball and trust in each other’s strengths will consistently shine. Similarly, the best sales reps understand that they can’t win deals alone, and the best coaches encourage team collaboration along the way. Utilize the talent that surrounds you to provide the expertise, ideas and coaching that’s needed to win.

3. Play the game, but learn how to pivot

Many teams try to be something they’re not when they get on the court. The best teams remember how they got there and lean on the strengths that facilitated their past victories. There are times when teams need to learn how to adjust, depending on the situation and what the competition dishes up. This scenario is the same in sales. Even the most sub-par sellers recognize the strengths they offer, but exceptional reps know how to pivot at a moment’s notice when something unexpected comes into play.

4. Remember the basics

A missed free-throw can cost your team the game. A lazy pass can cause a turnover and shift the momentum in favor of your opponent. While every team in the NCAA dreams of cutting down the nets, the only way to get there is to utilize their training. As a player, you must be disciplined and diligent, especially as the game progresses. Top reps remember what they’ve been coached to do in the heat of the moment (and do it without hesitation). The tiny details that make up a successful sales campaign must be tended to every day to move the deal forward. Remember that.

5. Memorize the court

The best teams can navigate the court with their eyes shut. Although there is no such thing as a guaranteed sales deal, top reps know the landscape and how to use it to their advantage. The best salespeople are experts in their industry, their customers, and even their customers’ customers. Closing a deal requires gaining the trust of your buyers, and showing them that you understand their business will make them confident in signing with you.

Sales teams are tasked with playing a new game every day. Oftentimes, sales success comes with experience, but it also comes down to fundamentals. You can’t win a game without the support of your teammates, and you have to trust your teammates to be successful. Using their strengths to your advantage will not only help you learn, but it will also increase your chances of winning.