March Madness is the annual college basketball tournament which separates the wheat from the chaff. It’s a dramatic end to the season for hundreds of players for whom the stakes are high: prestige, recognition, and a possible shot at a lucrative NBA career.
Similar to sales professionals, basketball players need a lot of preparation, practice, and drive to bring home the big wins. Both groups need to know how to close a deal. There are a few parallels between both groups and studying them can make you a better salesperson.
March Madness champions expect to win and push through obstacles, such as injuries or giving up a lead. They go back to the basics and their game plan and persist in executing it until they succeed, because they know that is how to close a deal.
Persistence in sales is often confused as pushiness. I define persistence in sales as doing the necessary actions over the long term, without giving up just because an objection or other barrier was placed in your way, similar to a championship team.
It takes at least twelve touches to close most deals. Most salespeople give up after 2 or 3, then they let their efforts dwindle. Persistence means scheduling all your actions in your CRM and following through with them until either the prospect buys or you have exhausted all reasonable efforts and decide to move on.
March Madness teams that know how to close a deal exhibit confidence. They know they are going to win, because they have prepared for the game through countless hours of practice and drills. While passionate, players usually keep level heads on the court in order to best execute the game plan.
Top salespeople also display an air of calm confidence. This comes about through years of preparation and practice, just like great basketball players. By knowing all the techniques, and practicing handling every type of situation and buyer type, they make sales fun – like a game.
Have many options
Top March Madness teams have extensive playbooks they can rely on to handle any kind of situation. They rehearse these scenarios endlessly during practice sessions. This gives them many options to choose from when facing different opponents and game scenarios.
Elite salespeople have many different options in their toolbelts as well. They rehearse many different objections and closes. They adapt their approach and mannerisms to meet different buyer personalities rather than hobby-horsing with one specific type. They know how to close a deal because they have researched many options to overcome the problems which come up.
Top salespeople have much in common with elite athletes. Not only do they regularly succeed, they achieve the admiration of their peers and community due to their competence and seemingly magical ability to pull it off in the clutch. Even if you are not a sports fan, studying how the top teams operate can inform your own activities and lead to greater success.