There’s always been a connection between sports and sales, the competitive team-driven nature of both activities makes it impossible for there not to be! And with it being well into the NFL season, we couldn’t think of a better time to explore the parallels between sales and football, and how they can help your sales game.
We reached out to two of our sales experts and resident football fans, CSO AJ Olander and Sales and Operations Manager Ashley Lillge, for their insights on how sales relates to football, both on the offensive and defensive ends.
In football, an offense’s job is to go out and score points. In sales, it’s to generate revenue. Here’s some key ways in which sales are like an offensive football team:1. Strategy and Game Plan
In football, a well-thought-out game plan is crucial to outsmart the opposing team. Similarly, in sales, having a well-defined sales strategy, or game plan, is essential for success. This includes identifying target customers, setting goals, and determining the most effective sales tactics to win the game of revenue generation.
For instance, if you're selling software, your offensive strategy may involve identifying the pain points of potential customers, demonstrating how your software can solve their problems, and creating compelling sales pitches to convert them into paying clients.2. Teamwork
Football requires players to work together as a team to move the ball down the field. It doesn’t matter how good a wide receiver is if their quarterback can’t get them the ball. Similarly, sales teams need to collaborate effectively in order to close deals. Each member of the sales team plays a unique role, and success is achieved when they work in harmony (for more info about the different roles that make up a sales team, click here!).
In a sales scenario, the offensive team might consist of sales representatives, marketing, and customer service working together to nurture leads, close deals, and provide excellent post-sale support.3. Scoring Points
Football teams score points by getting the ball into the opponent's end zone. In sales, you score points by closing deals and generating revenue. Sales professionals are constantly working to move potential customers through the sales funnel, from initial contact to the final purchase.
The successful sale is the equivalent of scoring a touchdown in football. Just as football players celebrate in the end zone, sales teams celebrate their wins and successes, whether it's closing a deal or hitting monthly revenue targets (although, the dances aren’t quite as flashy in the sales world).4. Playbook and Training
In football, teams meticulously study their playbook, which contains a variety of offensive plays and strategies. Likewise, in sales, having a well-structured sales playbook is crucial. A sales playbook outlines the step-by-step processes, scripts, objection-handling techniques, and best practices that the sales team should follow. It's a valuable resource for training and equipping your sales team with the tools they need to succeed.5. Adaptability and Audibles
Football quarterbacks often call audibles, changing the play on the fly based on the defense they see. In sales, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is equally essential. Sometimes, a sales representative may need to pivot and adjust their approach during a sales conversation to address the specific needs and concerns of the customer. This adaptability can be the difference between closing a deal or losing a prospect, and is one of the most valuable skills a salesperson can have.
There is a saying in sports, “Defense wins championships.” While there isn’t exactly a championship in sales, being able to retain customers and prevent churn, AKA defending your revenue base, is incredibly important. Here's how sales are like a football defense:1. Protecting Your End Zone
In football, the defense aims to protect its end zone at all costs. In sales, your "end zone" is your existing customer base. It's more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, so keeping your current customers should be a top priority. Your defense, in this case, involves building strong relationships with clients, providing exceptional customer service, and offering value-added services to keep them satisfied and loyal.2. Handling Objections
In both football and sales, challenges and obstacles are a part of the game. In sales, objections from potential customers are like the plays the opposing team throws at you. Just as a football defense needs to adapt to the opponent's tactics, your sales team must be prepared to handle objections effectively.
For example, if a customer raises concerns about the cost of your product, your defense should involve showcasing the value and return on investment to address their objections.3. Preventing Turnovers
In football, turnovers can be game-changing. In sales, customer turnover (churn) can be huge hit to your revenue and growth. Your defense must focus on strategies to prevent customer churn, such as offering retention incentives, maintaining open lines of communication, and ensuring your customers continue to see value in your product or service.4. Customer Feedback and Data Analysis
In football, defenses rely on game film and statistics to analyze their opponent's plays and tendencies. In sales, gathering customer feedback and analyzing data are equivalent to studying the opponent's playbook. Effective customer feedback and data analysis help you understand customer preferences, pain points, and buying behaviors. This insight is invaluable in strengthening your defense by tailoring your strategies to meet customer expectations and needs. To learn more about the value of analytics in sales, click here, we have a whole article dedicated to it!5. Crisis Management
Just as football defenses need to handle unexpected situations on the field, sales teams may face crises or unexpected challenges. It could be a product issue, a sudden market shift, or a customer complaint. A strong defense in sales means having crisis management plans in place. Your team should be prepared to address and mitigate these challenges swiftly and effectively, ensuring minimal damage to your customer relationships and reputation.
Sales and football share a surprising number of similarities. Just as a football team requires both a strong offense and a resilient defense to win the game, your sales team needs a well-defined strategy for generating revenue and an effective defense to retain and satisfy existing customers.
By understanding these parallels, you can adapt the best practices from football to your sales strategy and ultimately increase your chances of success in the world of sales. Remember that both offense and defense are essential components of the game, and balancing them is the key to achieving long-term sales success. So, get out there, huddle up, and go get your sales team a win!