A Layup or a Half Court Shot? (sales with marketing)

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A Layup or a Half Court Shot? (sales with marketing)

In basketball a layup is considered one of the easiest and high percentage shots to take. You are very close to the basket, the typically approach is to bank the shot off the backboard. It really is an expected shot – when players miss layups its a mistake (unless you’re in grade school or you got fouled).

The half court shot is something you do when you don’t have any other options (time is running out) so you throw up a “prayer” and hope it goes in. When players miss half-court shots its expected. When they make it, the crowd goes wild.

Who cares?

I keep hearing from printers that their sales people don’t know how to sell solutions, they don’t understand web-to-print, they need training!

Are you wondering how the hell is she going to connect the basketball analogy and print sales training? Thanks for asking – that’s just what I’m going to do.

Putting a sales representative out in the field to sell without preparing them with a go-to-market strategy, a marketing message, and unique insights to teach the customer is like handing them the ball at half court and saying “take a shot” when you miss (fail to close the deal) we will be getting just what we expected. Our percentage of wins in sales when we ask the sales representative to do everything (the message, strategy, and relationship) is dismal. They fail way more than they succeed and we’ve come to accept that crappy shooting percentage.

You know what we do to help rationalize it? We ask them to take lots more shots (call more people), so now you have a basket of balls at half court and you continue to heave them while you tire yourself out (the equivalent to cold calling and feeling more and more defeated in the process).

How do we get sales representatives in the position to shoot layups instead of half court shots? I think you set them up to succeed with a clearly articulated go-to-market strategy, a marketing message that helps them TEACH customers instead of sell, a strategy that helps them be memorable instead of forgettable to the prospects they interact with.

Marketing has to provide the message and the unique insights that compel the customer to see their business differently and therefore see your company differently. Marketing is about moving the sales representative closer to the basket, giving them the tools they need to deliver the message, establish the relationship, and sink the shot at a much higher percentage. We overlook marketing and simply hire more sales representatives, pressure them to make more calls, and then wonder why our hit rate is so low. Improve your shooting percentage by setting your sales team up as expert layup makers not long-shot dramatic half court shooters.