If your goal is improving B2B sales, you can learn a thing or two from the performance of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James.
With the NBA playoffs fast approaching and the Cleveland Cavaliers poised to make a formidable appearance, it is hard to find a conversation around here lately that doesn’t involve our local team, or its star player.
LeBron James’ return to Cleveland was great news for Ohio basketball fans, and I have enjoyed watching him bring our city back into the spotlight.
While it is fun to have such a premier athlete represent the city where I live and work, I also think it’s worth noting that there is much we can learn from LeBron James when it comes to success.
As principal and co-founder of a leading teleprospecting company based in Cleveland, Ohio I would recommend anyone involved in complex B2B sales to take a page out of James’ training book and see how it can be applied to successful sales.
Preparation Is Key
Not only is LeBron James supremely talented, but he also puts in the effort behind-the-scenes before he even shows up for game time.
LeBron James is an extreme example of extraordinary talent, but that does not mean he doesn’t need to be prepared.
As spectators, we get to see his amazing performance and talent on the court, but it is the work that he puts in prior to the game; preparing for days, weeks, months, and years in advance that allows him to perform at the highest level. That is where the real action is.
To perform at the highest level, to dominate any field in the manner that LeBron James does, requires much work before game time. The preparation and the honing of skills is what allows the player, whether in the sports or sales arena, to handle any and all situations that will inevitably come flying at them.
Anticipate The Next Move
Part of preparation is anticipating what can and will occur next. In telesales it is helpful to know that, when you reach a prospect on the phone, there is a good chance he or she will be busy and not particularly eager to speak with you.
As a teleprospector you will be more successful if you anticipate what a prospect might say to end the call.
Understanding the likelihood of such an obstacle is important. But knowing how to handle it (and overcome it when it happens) is what leads to a successful call. And that can only happen with proper preparation.
No matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t put in the necessary work in order to handle what your opponents are going to throw at you, you will not be consistently successful. As a basketball player, James has to be prepared for any sort of defense that is thrown at him; the same holds true for a teleprospector.
A busy prospect may try roadblocks, obstacles, and objections to try to get rid of you.
Being properly prepared and “trained” means you will have maneuvers that overcome the roadblocks, turning things in your favor and creating an opportunity that at first didn’t appear to exist.
What is the work that you need to do in advance?
First, understand what you are representing inside and out. What is the business solution, what does it offer? Know its strengths and its potential weaknesses, and internalize them so you are ready for any and all questions and objections. Put in the study and work, and really comprehend your business solution, service, or product.
Second, know your audience. How are those you are approaching accomplishing their work right now? What are certain aspects of what your business solution offers that can help them? How are they handling things today, and how might your product or service improve their situation?
Understand that whatever company you are contacting is existing today without the business solution you are representing.
This is your opportunity to communicate with a prospect about a potentially better way to handle how they are currently doing things. This creates an opportunity to determine if you can advance with this prospect beyond the initial conversation.
There may be many objections that could be viable from a prospect’s standpoint. Prepare for those, so that you have the right professional response without stumbling. This is what proper preparation does for you professionally.
Short Term and Long Term Goals
“I have short goals – to get better every day, to help my teammates every day – but my only ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship. It’s all that matters. I dream about it. I dream about it all the time, how it would look, how it would feel. It would be so amazing.” – LeBron James
In the short term, you have to master the fundamentals in order to reach your long term goals.
In teleprospecting, the “NBA Championship” is a qualified lead that becomes a viable business opportunity and closes in a sale.
Unless you take the necessary steps in the short term and master the fundamentals, there is no way of achieving the long term goals consistently without pure luck.
In basketball you have to put in the practice reps in order to master the game that leads to the championship. The work put in in advance, the hundreds and hundreds of shots taken each day, the thousands per week and so on – that is what prepares a player for the dozen or so shots taken in a game.
In B2B teleprospecting, the message you deliver to the prospect is similar to shooting the ball in a game. If you put in the time to master the fundamentals in practice, then you are prepared for any situation that comes up during “game time.”
More insight into the fundamentals of successful telesales can be found in a recent post: 3 Ingredients of a Successful B2B Sales Call.
Winning the Championship
What was the best deal you ever made over the phone? Was it a completely cold call, or were you thoroughly prepared with all of the fundamentals of the product or solution you were presenting? How has experience taught you the skills to close the sale and achieve the win? Please leave us a note in the comments.