3 Lessons Sales Teams Can Learn from March Madness

Shutterstock_150348923Break out your brackets everyone: March is upon us and we find ourselves on the cusp of one of the most exciting tournaments in all of sports: the NCAA Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness.  
March Madness serves as a spectacle of some of our favorite things about sports today. Small schools play the role of Cinderella, new stars emerge, and nearly every game tends to have the flair for the dramatic. In a situation where the pressure is high and the stakes are even higher, there are a number of lessons that sales teams can take away from college basketball. Whether it’s preparing for a demo or trying to manage the pipeline, here are three key lessons that sales teams can take away from this year’s NCAA tournament: 

1.Bring an underdog mentality

A 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed 44 times in the first round of March Madness. When you are selling, whether you feel like a 12 or a 5 seed, it is important to bring the same mentality to each play in every game. Even if you and your team feel like you have a deal locked in, it is essential to bring the same effort and focus that you would for the most important sale you’ve ever made. An underdog team has a chip on its shoulder that lends the extra motivation to win, because no one expects it. Sales teams need the same mentality.

2. Make adjustments

In basketball, the whole outcome of the game could come down to a final play. Maintaining composure and making the adjustments needed to execute plays in high-pressure situations is what separates the winners and losers. Sales teams need to be equipped with the tools and abilities to make adjustments on the fly as well.  Sales reps are constantly presenting to different customers, verticals and industries; the situation is always unique. Equipping your sales team with the right content at the right time allows them to make these adjustments seamlessly, and is vital to successfully executing the sale.  

3. Play all the way to the buzzer

Arguably the most thrilling part of March Madness is its abundance of comeback victories, buzzer beater wins, and last second heroics. While teams would undoubtedly rather have the game wrapped up by halftime, the last second win is even sweeter. Your sales team is probably the same way. Whether prospects are evaluating competitors or reevaluating their own needs, the sales cycle can be long and tiresome. But you never know what could happen at any given time, so making sure you and your team are following up appropriately and making all the necessary moves to stay in the game is critical. Budget could open up, new people could be brought into the mix, competitors could drop out, and more. The key is ensuring you are right in the mix to give yourself the opportunity to hit the game winner.  
Sales teams and college basketball teams have a lot in common. And more often than not, it’s the ones that work harder that see the most success. How far down the bracket will your team make it?

About the Author

Doug (1)Doug Winter is the founder and CEO of Seismic, a leading sales enablement platform. Winter previously co-founded Objectiva Software Solutions, which was acquired by EMC Document Sciences in 2004. He was the COO and general manager at Document Sciences until founding Seismic in 2010. He holds a MSEE and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BSEE from Virginia Tech. Connect with Doug and Seismic on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook
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