The Pitch: Reimagining sales experience with cricket
In India, most of us have grown up watching and playing cricket. And we have heard everyone saying: Cricket is not a sport but a religion. Every game played (in a gully or at Lord’s) is as important as your life. However, you will find most of us turn into consultants when not playing one, giving suggestions on what shot to play or how to bowl.
Can you imagine we are all sitting in our living rooms trying to suggest a Sachin or a Kohli on how to play? This amuses me a lot that we all find it so easy when sitting on a sofa but we all are just gully boys. This made me realize that like any other sport, cricket also teaches you life lessons.
If you look a little deeper, it also teaches you sales techniques. I have been a part of various sales and business teams for almost 8 years now. The sales guys are superheroes without the cape (and with a shirt & tie). Meeting new clients on a regular basis and trying to close the deals, getting in revenue for the company. They are the one’s meeting all kind
of people for maybe just one kind of product/service. The targets are continuously running in their mind. And it seems like the target is always next to impossible.
Being from sales, I have realised there is no particular key to achieve your targets but a few rules which would definitely assist you in the bumpy road ahead.
1. Go back to the basics
Rahul Dravid (also known as the great wall of Indian Cricket Team during his playing days) he was one of the most technically sound batsman. How can we forget the boring and long test innings? He actually once took 40 deliveries (almost 7 overs) to score a single run.
You might not always be at the top of your game or the opposition might be bowling continuous bouncers and yorkers. The best strategy is to go back to the basics of the game. Go by the book and play till the time you get your timing right. It might take time to get that perfect cover drive or close that deal. But more you spend the time on the field more likely it is for you to get back your form. The time on field will help you get acquainted to the conditions, the opposition and also help you create your strategy to achieve the target. You know your strengths & weakness similarly you know your product/service like no one else, stay on the field, understand your client and start preparing a strong pipeline. The results will show-up.
2. Understand the environment
Sachin might come out with an aggressive approach in the Indian sub-continent but will be very careful while playing in the difficult conditions at New Zealand. It is very important to understand the conditions, opponent and circumstances and accordingly strategise your approach. Similarly, for sales understand the potential client, location, budget, his requirement and accordingly decide the strategy to close the deal. Your approach towards every client would be different on the basis of your research, understanding and sometime your gut feeling as well.
3. It’s all about team work
Even if you are a Kohli you also need a Sharma, Dhoni, Pant, Bumrah etc. and so on to achieve the target. It is very important to understand, you need a team to achieve the target, support group to help you prepare for the field and a group of peers to help you grow. One of the best example is during the early 2000s, the best batman was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar without a doubt but the Australian team was a team which was complete in every sense dominated the world cricket for almost a decade.
Sales is all about you being on the field but you need a strong product team to help you offer the best product to your client, pre-sales team to help you understand the client requirement and the approach to close. You also need a strong sales team to help you learn the game plan and approach towards different clients. This would help you grow.
4. Running between the wickets
A Sehwag or Gayle cannot hit a boundary on every ball. You need those important singles and doubles for the scoreboard to keep ticking. Especially, in todays competitive world it is very important to understand the importance of singles.
Similarly, in sales you cannot always go after big ticket sales. It is important to get in those smaller ticket sales. This will not only help you get closer to the target but also get you to know the market better.
5. Plan your target, keep smaller targets
The target might always look like a daunting task but rather than planning for a 5 days test match it is important to plan for the next session (a session of 30 overs). This help you as well as the team to not think too much in the future and at the same time execute the current POA.
Similarly, you do not have to go ahead and meet all the clients in the first go. It is important to distribute your pipeline in a way that would make it easy for you. Handling your pipeline is as important as closing a deal. This would let you keep up with your smaller targets. Thus offering feedback and time to the team as well to prepare them for the target as well.
6. When its your day, go full throttle
On certain days, you will feel like everything is going your way and you are able to middle each and every ball. These are times where you should try to convert your 50s to 100s and 100s to 200s. These are the days when you can bowl your best deliveries. Similarly, when you are able to close the deals (even the ones who have been ignoring your calls) just stay on the field and get as many clients on-board as possible. This is the time when your gut says some of your difficult clients might also get on-board. However, do not forget to keep your pipeline healthy, because strong pipeline would always be helpful during those difficult days or for the times when you are out of form and things are not going your way.
7. You have your own style
We are always trying to imitate our cricketing heroes. Trying the helicopter shot or trying to be like Tendulkar. However, it's always better to get inspired by your heroes but not to copy them. Past 3 generations have been a follower of Tendulkar but they all are known for their own style and in process have created their own place in the team. In case of sales as well you have to build your own style. It is fine to get inspired by others but at the end you are different, and should try to make your place in the organisation. This will not only be easy for you as you are in your own shoes, also for the organisation to see you as a different identity. Thus creating your own brand in the market as well as your company.
8. Nothing succeeds like success
Whatever techniques and theories one might teach you, at the end if you are successful the technique would be overlooked. MSD is not the most conventional wicket-keeper nor is he the most technically sound batsman but all of us will agree is, he has been one of the most successful player & captain in the recent times. So, it is fine to not follow any of the rules, but if you are able to produce the results everyone will applaud you and your approach.
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