What does an MVP caliber quarterback and a high-performance sales rep have in common? More than you think.
As the hot and humid days of summer give way to the crisp mornings and mild afternoons of fall, there is an energy in the air that for some means the sport of football. This is the time when all the countless hours of training, building up of skills, and endless drill running is put to the test in the trenches. This is the time when organizations truly find out where their team stacks up against the competition. This is where preparation meets opportunity; where wins and losses matter. This is game-time!
Similar to football, the business world has its stadiums where everyone’s efforts come together in a game-time experience epitomized by face-to-face customer engagement. These playing fields manifest themselves in boardrooms, on trade show floors, at coffee shops, and anywhere there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with a potential customer. When thinking about all the time, energy and effort that goes into getting a product or service to market, companies need to truly consider those meetings, those opportunities as “game time”. It’s here where deals are often won or lost, where sales reps triumph or fail, where MVPs are made and organizational dynasties are solidified.
To be successful on the field, organizations must have MVP caliber players.
In business, as in football, there are players out in the field that drive the success of an organization. One of the most important players, if not THE most important is the quarterback. These field generals are the ones on the front lines, day in and day out, engaging with the opponents who put up defensive fronts that need to be overcome. These playmakers and the way in which they perform often make the difference between a year to remember, and a year to forget.
In the NFL, at the highest level of the game, every QB that puts on a helmet has the potential to be successful. They all have physical attributes such as arm strength, speed, and athleticism to play at this level. Most have the mental capacity to execute a play, read a defense and orchestrate a sustainable touchdown drive now and then.
A sales rep, like a QB, has to come to an organization with raw talent. They have to possess core principal character qualities in order to be positioned to achieve greatness. A handful of these includes empathy, drive, competitiveness, confidence, and initiative.
To say that the expectations of success are high for both the sales rep and the football QB would be an understatement. As such, organizations are constantly looking to find and develop talent that can achieve greatness.
Inherent personal talent is important in sales, and on the football field, but is it enough to be great?
In the NFL, all teams are in constant pursuit of the next franchise QB that will ensure success on the field of play. The million-dollar question organizations wrestle with year in and year out is; what actually separates a Joe Montana from the average Joe?
In the same manner, all businesses are looking to bring on the next sales superstar, and they too are asking; what is it that makes an MVP performer?
When breaking down all the factors that separate the OK from the good, and the good from the great, we quickly see that the margins are slim.
OK Quarterbacks have the capacity to take their natural abilities, physical training and mental game planning, and actually translate what they do in practice onto the field of play during a game.
Good Quarterbacks can do this with consistency and often end up with moderate success, beating the lesser competitors and sometimes getting lucky against the tougher ones. This makes them good but won’t get them in the Hall of Fame.
Great Quarterbacks, on the other hand, the $40 million a year MVP signal callers, have the ability to do all of the above but also augment their approach when faced with unforeseen circumstances during the course of a game. They can read-and-react to the situations that present themselves when up against a difficult opponent.
It’s in this ability to situationally adapt during the course of a game, even within the course of a play that makes the good, great.
In the business world, the same can be said about what separates a good sales rep from a great sales rep.
A rep’s ability to adapt to the situation at hand, and the customer’s specific needs on the fly, instantly answering any question or concern, is what can make them great. But they can’t be expected to get there on their own, especially when companies have complex products and market types. Reps have to be prepared to sell multiple product lines, to multiple market types, and to multiple personas within each market.
To create MVP caliber sales reps a.k.a.s. quarterbacks who can pull off successful audibles play after play, organizations must first have:
- Raw talent
- The right leadership support
- The right Situational toolsets to be used on the field of play
We’ve covered the raw talent piece in the section above. Now it’s time to focus on what can be controlled.
The right leadership support
Organizations have to hire strong leadership to achieve excellence on the field.
To create the sales rep MVP, companies must have accomplished heads of marketing and sales, along with the full backing of all C-level executives. These leaders then have to bring on the right salesperson who not only have raw talent but possess leadership qualities themselves, and also fit into the organization’s leadership scheme. They have to possess the principal character qualities to be positioned to achieve sales greatness. All of which is necessary to create an organization that produces MVP level reps to be deployed to the field.
In the NFL, seldom do you see an MVP quarterback who didn’t have a great coaching staff behind them. Montana had Walsh, Marino had Shula, Brady has Belichick, and Mahomes has Reid. When raw talent is supported by exceptional leadership, great things happen.
The right situational toolsets to be used on the field of play
To create the right toolsets for situationally adapting to conditions that arise on the field during a game, a team has to have a game plan with corresponding plays that match up to all expected scenarios that could potentially play out in the course of engaging with your opponent.
To understand what these scenarios are or could be, organizations do their due diligence and amass as much information as they can based on research and previous personal engagement success and failures that have occurred and been documented. In football, organizations review countless hours of game film and research what plays other teams have run to be successful. In business, organizations do much of the same as they research their customers, share best practices and look for ways in which to gain an advantage.
Once the research is complete, it’s time to put together a game plan that addresses the product-market fit for each market type and customer persona scenario. Then, organizations have to layer in what potential questions or concerns might come up for customers at various places within each scenario, and make sure that they have the appropriate response to satisfy the customer. This game plan provides the framework that empowers reps in the field so they can remove red flags, and clear any hurdles that can potentially slow down the sales cycle. Now, it’s time to get these plays at the fingertips of the reps in the field.
When taking a closer look at the MVP quarterback on the field, you’ll notice they are not without tools. On their wrists are oversized sweatbands that have a section where plays are inscribed for quick reference. In addition, you will notice that they often place their hands over their helmet’s earholes to block out the crowd noise so they can concentrate on that little voice in their heads. That little voice comes from the offensive coordinator who is in direct contact with the player, using a sophisticated audio device to call in the next play or sequence of potential play calls. With this support, the QB communicates the plays to the team in the huddle, then breaks to approach the line of scrimmage where they will face their opponent face-to-face and run the plays. Will the play they called work? Will it be successful or not?
At this moment in the game, when walking up face-to-face with the opposition, getting ready to snap the ball, is where the MVP quarterback uses the final tool in their arsenal; the audible. This situational toolset is designed for signal-callers to change the play at the last second because the defense that is now right in front of the quarterback, was not the one anticipated when the original call was made by the offensive coordinator. A quarterback executes an audible by quickly calling out a new play while standing at the ready to take the snap. They will also signal to certain players to move positions that coincide with the new play. Once everything is set, they snap the ball and attack.
When businesses provide an interactive mobile tool such as Command.App that allows the sales rep to situationally navigate to specific materials for each market type and persona, virtually calling a sales audible, then they too have the potential to elevate their sales rep to MVP status.
When face-to-face with the opposition, what makes a customer engagement opportunity successful or not often depends on what defenses the customer puts up, and how adept the sales rep is to getting through those defenses to move the sale forward. The right interactive sales tool can ensure that all sales reps can have the ability to turn any presentation into a conversation and quickly get to the right material, at the right time, instantly. And, they can achieve the ultimate goal of navigating all the way to getting a signed proposal and close the deal on the spot when data collection toolsets are added to the situational sales tool.
Backed by the right leadership team and toolsets that make it easy to situationally adapt, the MVP player can approach the game with confidence.
2018 NFL MVP like Patrick Mahomes plays with extreme confidence. He routinely breaks the huddle, approaches the line to start a play, and surveys the defense to quickly determine if the originally called play has any chance of succeeding against the defense he now faces. If he determines that the play was wrong or unlikely to work, he then seamlessly calls an audible to another play better suited to attack the defense at hand; thus, optimizing the team’s chances of success. Did I mention that he only has only 40 seconds between the end of the last play and the snap of the ball for all this to occur?
It’s in the context of a game, within this scenario that plays out time-and-again, that MVP quarterbacks are made and organizational dynasties are solidified.
The MVP of sales reps can exude confidence as well when they have the ability and mobile toolset like Command.App to situationally sell to their customers.
They’re not stuck in linear discussions and can change how they’re engaging with a customer based on where the conversation goes. They can read-and-react to the needs expressed or challenges being raised.
Great reps have this ability to adapt on the fly as they answer any question or concern instantly. Situation selling and true customer engagement with Command.App is the key to turning your sales team into the Super Bowl-winning force you need them to be.