Sales March Madness - Three Ways to Avoid Elimination Rounds

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Posted: March 13, 2015

March 17th kicks off the NCAA Men’s March Madness College Basketball Tournament  where 68 teams participate in a single-elimination tournament competing for the national championship.    There’s also a little bit of madness in the sales world.  March 31st marks the end of Q1 in 2015.  Is your sales organization on track for revenues or are you on your way to ‘elimination rounds?’ 

John Wooden and his legendary UCLA dynasty won 10 NCAA national championships.  And while the tournaments are labeled March Madness, you will find there was no ‘madness’ in his approach to building great teams.   If you want to improve sales results, look no further than studying the habits and attitudes of this great coach.  

#1:  Teamwork.  John Wooden embraced and practiced the concept of team.  He said, “It takes 10 hands to make a basket.”  How about your organization?  Who are the 10 hands involved in acquiring and retaining customers?  Sales is not a department and it takes ‘many hands’ to win and retain business.  Take time to appreciate the invisible talent involved in creating a great client experience.   Write a thank you note to team processing orders.   Buy the warehouse crew lunch.  Bring dessert for the accounting department.   It takes 10 hands to win and retain business.

#2:  Emotion Management.   “Master your emotions or they will master you.”  This quote from Coach Wooden can sound a little soft, especially in the hard charging game of college basketball.   John Wooden recognized the importance of emotional intelligence over 30 years ago.  He knew he could recruit the greatest athletes in the country.   However, if those athletes got frustrated on the court they would not be able to execute the plays. 

The same philosophy holds true in sales.  You can learn a sales playbook full of the great selling skills.  Can you execute those skills in high stakes negotiation?   Too often, emotions start running sales meetings rather than effective consultative selling and negotiation skills.    

#3:   Passion.  I am guessing the teams participating in March Madness are passionate about the game of basketball.  How about you?  Do you love sales?  Do you work hard at honing your selling and influence skills?   Are you an expert in your field, which makes customers eager to meet with you?  If you don’t love sales or what you are selling, do everyone a favor:  get out of the profession.  It’s too hard without passion and your sales spot on the team is too valuable to be wasted on mediocre attempts at greatness. 

It’s March Sales Madness.  Finish Q1 strong.  Recognize your team mates, master your emotions and have passion about the game of sales. 

Good Selling!