7 Things Sales Can Learn From Sports: The Social Selling Championship

Daniel Ku
Daniel Ku
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The Social Selling Championship

If you follow sports, you likely witnessed a nail-biting Championship Series between the Cleveland Cavaliers lead by LeBron James Vs. The Golden State Warriors. During the basketball game, arguably the greatest player on earth ultimately fell short to a well-balanced and better team. So what does this championship series, sports and Social Selling have in common?

A whole lot.

In fact sports and sales are quite similar. I can go on and on about the parallels between sports and sales but for the sake of brevity, let’s focus on the one thing that matters the most: team mindset. No matter if you’re a 6”5 basketball player or a 5”6 sales professional, you have to ensure everyone on the roster has a team mindset and works as a collective. This is the essence of a successful sports dynasty. They focus on team dynamics, build winning habits and follow a systematic approach to ensure every player (or sales professional) helps to win a championship.

1. Coach knows best

Aside from the well tailored suits, a sports coach shares many similarities with a sales leader. Your first objective is to build a team mindset amongst your entire roster. You should also ensure everyone is using best practices, has the right resources, and is provided ongoing support and mentorship.

As a sales leader, you should take a page from a coach’s playbook and instil confidence in every player. Develop your average sales professionals into leaders and encourage a championship calibre support system. Mario Martinez is a great example of this, as he actively encourages collaboration and team problem solving.

2. The big fundamentals

A great sports team knows that the secret sauce to winning starts by building a strong foundation. It’s about understanding basic fundamentals. Before you dunk, you need to first learn how to dribble the ball. So equip your team with the right foundation for Social Selling: engaging actively on social, helping your buyers, creating content and ultimately building relationships. Check out The Executive Guide To Social Selling to understand how to help your team adopt Social Selling.

3. Your team is only as strong as your weakest link

No All-Star player could win a championship all by himself. No matter how great Michael Jordan was, he played alongside an equally great team. Look at your sales team, discover who your high performers are and empower them to lead. You may have some who aren’t performing up to par. Don’t just bench them. Instead, develop their skill set, surround them with the right support to continuously grow and better themselves.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

4. Eyes on the prize

It’s undeniable how focused some sports teams are. They constantly have their eyes on the prize whether it’s winning their next game, winning their division or going all the way to winning a championship. Build the same mindset with your sales team. Focus on a long-term strategy that involves increasing pipeline through social activity and plan your road to success. Don’t just guess what will work, measure everything and benchmark your success against best practices. Set short-term goals and let those small wins snowball into a larger victory.

5. We’re talking about practice?

Practice makes perfect. The best players know how important it is to work on their jump shots, three pointers, lay-ups or even ball movement before the game. They make sure to hit the gym and practice.

But just because you have a gym, doesn’t mean you’re an athlete. The same philosophy applies to Social Selling. Just because you have a LinkedIn Profile, doesn’t mean you’re a social seller.

It’s important your sales team implements Social Selling best practices and incrementally grows as they build their skill set. Practice may not be the most fun part of the game but it is what separates the high performers from the laggards.

6. The right stats

All sports teams strive for one thing: winning. As a sales leader, you’ll ask yourself, “How can I build more pipeline and increase revenue?” Find the right KPI’s you want to manage and determine the best course of action. As an athlete, you’re constantly measured by the amount of points you score, rebounds, assists, and etc. Apply the same visibility to your CRM. Similarly to how shooting percentage can affect winning, the same can be said about how engaged you are with your buyers. It can ultimately drive success.

7. Winning

At the end of the day, sports are about winning. So what are you doing today to ensure your sales team hits their quota? Apply the same concepts of a coach and empower your team with the right knowledge, resources and support. Ensure every individual contributes to your team’s success. This can be done by developing the fundamentals, using best practices and goal setting. Ensure your team works together as one unit. Important thing to remember: sports teams won’t win every game and you won’t close every deal. Learn from your failures and create a systematic process to ensure your team is on the road to a championship.

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