While sitting in traffic listening to sport updates, I was reminded of my busted NCAA bracket. For the last fifteen or so years, I’ve entered a bracket into my office March Madness pool. Relatively speaking, I’m a late arrival to the excitement of Big Dance. It wasn’t until after college when I was working in Los Angeles that a convincing officemate sat me down to walk me through the selection process (A xeroxed copy of the newspaper-published bracket) and promptly took my $10 entry fee.
My brackets have not improved much over the years. So why do I keep playing every year?
I’ve learned to enjoy the fast-paced nature of the game, the last minute heroics and the unforeseeable upsets.
March Madness is much like quarter-end at many companies: fast-paced, emotionally charged with equal parts excitement and anxiety and full of unexpected turns. I’ve learned that the teams that end up on top of March Madness have a lot in common with the sales reps I’ve known who have been the most successful.
To be successful in sales, one must be have a competitive personality, motivation to succeed and the confidence that difficult goals are achievable. These are the same qualities of successful athletes.
Regardless of their success in the field, most sales reps complain about the crunch of quarter-end and they always come back for more the following quarter.
They’ve come to enjoy the fast-paced nature of the game, the last minute heroics and the unforeseeable upsets.
As difficult as the upsets are, we need them to appreciate the wins.
A key ingredient to doing well in the Big Dance is preparation. The teams that seem to end up on top at the end of March Madness aren’t always the ones with the most talent. They are the ones who put in the work throughout the season getting prepared. They know that they don’t know exactly what to expect when the ball is tipped off. But through repetition, preparation and mutual commitment, they are ready for however the ball bounces.
Successful sales teams are no different.
A sales team with a structured, repeatable, yet flexible, sales processes is in the best position to have more wins than losses. The sales teams that have done their homework by understanding a customer’s financials, strategic objectives, business goals and obstacles are the sales teams that are best positioned to handle last minute demands. They make adjustments with confidence to close deals as the shot clock winds down.
In addition, a good coach knows that no one player, no matter how skilled, can on his or her own deliver a victory in March Madness. It takes the entire team – players, coaches, analysts, trainers, etc.
I’ve learned to appreciate the role each of us plays in closing a deal. Our account representatives are on our players on the court; our sales engineers advise us on the technical aspect of the game while courtside coaches like me advise the team from a numbers perspective.
When I think back to that first bracket, I’m convinced my $10 investment will pay dividends for years to come. Likewise, I’m convinced we’ll all look back and feel the same about the madness of quarter-end.