The FIFA Women’s World Cup brings forth one of the most exciting times of the year. Not only is the weather (finally) getting better, but the World Cup offerings so many fun and competitive games. As I watch the games, I can’t help but correlate to how several World Cup soccer coaching principles apply to sales. For instance, most teams have a bona fide superstar like Abby Wambach or Alex Morgan, and others who are integral to the overall success of the team. What makes these stars shine is their ability to rise to the challenge consistently.
But what’s the trick? A superb coach who knows how to get the most out of every player on the team.
The same can be said for managing a sales team. Every sales team has that one rep who crushes every monthly goal, while others struggle and have a tendency to underperform. A strong manager understands what activities and preparation make the all-star so good, and how to showcase them and apply those behaviors across the team to maximize every team member’s potential against the various obstacles presented by the sales industry each day.
Consider sales intelligence, which I think of as the detailed and contextual look at the activity of sales teams that give managers visibility into what their team is actually doing. Sales intelligence taps into data that can include keywords and emotion detectors to fully understand behaviors that lead to outcomes: success or disappointment. Now is the time to act on that information. Managing reps with this type of intelligence are more like coaching a World Cup team than you probably think.
Here are four ways sales managers can emulate the top soccer coaches to drive their teams to big wins.
Constantly evaluate your players
Every team has its mix of veterans and rookies, all-stars and underperformers. One thing that’s certain is that athletes and sales reps are by nature extraordinarily competitive and strive to be the best. Use your sales intelligence data to help them achieve just that.
With sales intelligence, it’s possible to target specific behaviors or performance benchmarks, automatically record them, and then see trends and outcomes based on specific language in an activity report. Look at what your best reps are doing, and compare their activity to that of your more inexperienced staff to see where the holes are. Perhaps it’s a quick fix, like suggesting more calls take place before giving up on the opportunity. Other times, you may notice a rep veering off script.
Know what your team is doing when they’re not at the office
During the offseason, professional soccer players are still on the job; only they are spread out in their various hometowns as opposed to at their team’s field. That doesn’t stop coaches from checking in to make sure they’re still following their nutritional and training regimens. It’s essential to performance that players are keeping up to the standards set by the team, and any player who isn’t will likely get an earful from the coach, not to mention a more watchful eye.
With the rise of the mobile workforce, it’s a challenge for sales managers to keep track of their team’s activity while on the road or working from home, but it’s just as critical to a team’s success to have this visibility into what their team is doing. Sales intelligence makes that easy since specific systems can now automatically enter the data from every agent’s calls for a manager to track. Not only that, but the data is far more accurate than if the reps had to enter it themselves. Now you know without any doubt if your player was eating chicken with vegetables for dinner, or chicken wings and pizza, and you can manage accordingly with better confidence.
Make adjustments on the fly
On the soccer field, even the best coaches are blindsided by plays, which they didn’t see coming. While you always want to be able to anticipate anything that could be thrown at you or your team, the reality is that it’s just not possible all of the time. That’s why the best coaches are those who can rebound and adjust their play strategy accordingly.
In sales, if you notice a trend of prospects becoming agitated when they hear the phrase “additional fee” with a corresponding outcome of “hang up,” perhaps they take more kindly to the phrase “assessment charged.” With sales intelligence, you can change the script, and likely change the outcome from a “hang up” to a “follow-up.” Big difference! Take what you learn- failures and all- and apply them to better prepare for next time.
Don’t be afraid to dip into your bag of tricks
Sales intelligence is the ace up your sleeve. Use it to your advantage. If your sales team is averaging three calls per prospect before giving up, but your sales intelligence data shows that your top performing reps have been increasingly closing deals after seven calls, then shouldn’t you apply that to your sales strategy? Set that standard across your entire sales organization, and win big contracts over your competitors.
Sales intelligence data also gives you more opportunity to reward your team and keep them sticking to the standards you set. Instead of basing incentives purely on revenue, you can reward smaller goals like calls per lead and appointments set along the way to get your team in the habit of performing to the benchmarks that are proven to work.
Sales intelligence is far more than just the number of calls placed and numbers of emails opened. It’s the how and why behind every closed deal or unsuccessful pitch, which are the most important details you need if you want your team to succeed at the highest level. By employing these tactics, you can outsmart the competition every time.