Last night was a great night.
For all the non-basketballers and non-Canadians, here’s what’s going on.
For the first time ever in their 24-year history, the Toronto Raptors are in the NBA finals.
And for finals-starved Toronto, this is probably the most exciting thing to ever happen to the city.
Just to be included is a win in our books.
The team who has won three of the last four NBA finals, and whose line up includes the player with the most three-pointers in an NBA final (98) and a 3-time NBA Champion crumpled under the power of the Raptors in a stunning 109 - 118 loss.
And that got me thinking about Sales, and what we can learn from the Raptor’s victory last night.
Because the story of the Raptors is the story of every rep, every single day.
Just like the Raptors, Sales reps are underdogs. The average close rate is 19% across all industries.
Think about that.
That means that for every single deal a sales rep chases, it is unlikely they will close that deal.
And just like everyone is cheering for the Raptors (well, almost everyone. Nevada I get, but Hawaii?? For shame!) Everyone is cheering for Sales.
Sales is the culmination of a huge organizational effort to get a product into the hands of customers and make some money. It’s the final leg of the relay, and the entire organization is hollering their support at the top of their lungs to clinch the win.
So here’s the question I was puzzling over:
‘If Sales are the Raptors, and the Raptors won last night, how can we replicate their success in Sales?’
And I’ve got a few ideas.
That’s how Kawhi Leonard wins his games.
Basically, the Raptors didn’t win because their A-player was a superstar (though he is). They won because they “played with composure” as their head coach put it.
Even Leonard in his postgame interview said that a huge part of their winning strategy is “don’t be a hero.”
They played smart, disciplined basketball at a team – and you can see this in the scorecard.
While they didn’t have the stunning outliers that drive the star-studded Warriors, they had an incredible game as a team.
And the Warriors know it – as their head coach put it: “We just got out-played”
The Raptors won because they played a game of fundamentals, and worked the math to get the win.
That’s what you need to do to win in Sales.
Kawhi Leonard didn’t win last night. The Raptors did.
And you can see this in the points. Of nine players, five scored points in the double digits. In contrast, just two of the twelve Golden State Warriors who played scored into double digits, scooping up 50% of the total points they put on the board.
And I’m not saying anything the Warriors. But they were playing Superstar basketball. It’s great to watch… but it didn’t carry the day.
Your sales organization needs to be the Raptors – steady, disciplined, quota-achieving output from all of your reps.
Because if you’re relying on 1-2 A-players to carry the day, you’re not only leaving money on the table, but you’re exposing yourself to huge risk.
What if your players leave? Get sick? Get injured? If you don’t have a better system to replace them than “hire another one-in-a-million A-player”, you’re in trouble.
So what does composed, disciplined selling look like?
It’s about hitting your high-percentage shots.
Think back to those stats from before. The biggest difference is field goal percentage. Basically, how many times did the team take a shot and get it in?
The Raptors 7 percentage point advantage is the reason they won.
And given they had almost the same number of attempts, plus the superstar status of the Warriors’ main scorers, there’s only one conclusion to draw: the Raptors took easier shots.
For Sales, this means working incredibly closely with your marketing team, first to prospect accounts that match your ideal client profile, and second to pursue marketing qualified leads as aggressively as possible.
That’s where the wins are going to be easiest, and where non-superstar reps can go to quota.
Leonard was right. It’s all about one play at a time.
Sales aren’t about the grand strategy that’s going to net you 10 new logos before the end of the day. You’ll end up in analysis paralysis.
Rather, it’s about a deal by deal, email by email call by call and stage by stage fight to get the close. And most importantly, the previous deal has nothing to do with the next one. Do what the Raptors do:
“Go for it. No hesitancy, just confidence to go for it.”
As for the broader go to market team, the key is to step back from the play by play and see what’s working and what isn’t.
Most importantly, do what the Warriors are doing right now. Go look at the tape:
Finally, keep an eye on your numbers.
To drive a truly effective sales machine, you need to know your metrics. Your win percentages, how long it takes to get to your first win, what makes a great rep great, and how you’re tracking over time.
Because it’s not enough to just have a monthly sales quota that you hit or miss. You need to know:
These are what you need to keep an eye on as you build your sales machine.
By tracking your numbers, you can start to identify your A+ reps and, more importantly, start to get your Bs and Cs up to snuff.
Now take a few days off and rest your weary muscles.
Next week is the start of another game.
David Bloom is the CEO & Founder of LevelJump, a sales onboarding and enablement solution built on the Salesforce platform. Prior to founding LevelJump David built and sold a corporate training company and held a variety of sales and marketing leadership roles at Fortune 500 life sciences and technology companies including Salesforce.com, GSK and Pfizer.