Late last week the Boston Celtics announced that Brad Stevens, former Butler University men’s basketball coach, will be the 17th head coach of the storied franchise. While the hiring of Stevens took many by surprise, the media wasted no time catching everyone up to speed, as talk began swirling about every detail of the task that lies ahead of the 36-year-old head coach.
Through all the chatter, some important themes have emerged, and have been pegged as keys to the long-term success of the young coach and his team. As a Boston-based company, there was no shortage of enthusiasm for the hire in our neighborhood. As the news became a perpetual topic of conversation, it occurred to me that the key areas of focus for Stevens’ Celtics bear a striking resemblance to the integral components of a successful sales enablement strategy – a challenge that is top of mind for business leaders across industries. At their core, winning on the court and winning deals in the field rely on a similar set of principles: thoughtful preparation, the skills to engage effectively, and the ability to gain insight from analytics.
Let’s break down the similarities.
Prepare with the right resources
A student of the game and reputed ‘numbers guy,’ Stevens’ work to prepare for his new role will be thorough. It will no doubt include studying what it takes to make the jump from college coaching to the NBA, evaluating players, and building a coaching staff, just to name a few.
In the same way that Stevens will prepare for coaching at the next level by studying the nuances of the NBA, sales reps need efficient training on the products they sell in order to effectively prepare for meetings with potential customers. This means providing reps with access to both formal training and informal, just-in-time learning to insure that they are accurately informed and on-message.
Preparing for sales conversations goes beyond product training, however. To be truly prepared to engage a potential customer, reps need to be armed with the right resources to enhance the quality of the conversation.’ For Brad Stevens, this means carefully assembling a coaching staff with an array of expertise, and evaluating player skills to determine the most effective combinations for any given scenario.
For sales reps, this means gaining an understanding of the challenges that their prospects face, and assembling specific content that demonstrates how their products and solutions can alleviate those challenges. As was recently noted in our Sales Enablement eBook, according to the CMO Council, 40% of a salesperson’s time is spent searching for and/or creating content for customer communications. That’s a powerful statistic, and one that highlights the essential need for a flexible, organized solution to help reps access the right content efficiently (like Brainshark’s Sales Enablement Portal).
Engage key influencers
Almost immediately following the announcement of Stevens’ hire came a flurry of discussion about how the young coach will engage star point guard Rajon Rondo. In the wake of the Paul Piece and Kevin Garnett trades, Rondo now stands as the clear leader on the roster, making it essential for Stevens to win his respect and buy-in from the outset. Stevens’ ability to demonstrate his knowledge and expertise will be instrumental in developing a relationship with Rondo.
Much the same is true as reps engage potential customers in sales conversations. Reps need to earn the respect of key decision makers by drawing on their meeting preparation to authoritatively demonstrate knowledge of their offerings as well as the customer’s needs. The better the rep can accomplish this through both live and on-demand communications, the better the quality of the conversations will be.
Embrace the power of analytics
Brad Stevens showed his commitment to analytics early on by pulling onboard 23-year-old analytics guru Drew Cannon, the now former Butler men’s basketball statistician. Cannon’s specialty is running statistical analysis to identify winning player combinations for everything from offensive and defensive efficiency, to scoring percentages, and more.
Analytics play a similar role in successful sales enablement, as sales managers can report on which content combinations and behaviors lead to the most closed business. They can then use that insight to replicate this winning behavior across their organization to ultimately advance more deals to close.
Analytics also provide critical insight back to individual reps so they can best gauge prospect interest and prioritize their follow-up accordingly.
So, whether your goal is winning more business by better enabling your sales team, or winning more games on the hardwood, keep these principles in mind, and it’s sure to be a slam dunk… or a closed-won!