The 99th Tour de France cycling race begins in just a few days. The Tour de France is arguably one of the toughest endurance contests that exists today. The quick facts: it includes 21 days of racing over a 23 day period of time, and it will cover 2100 miles with some of the most amazing uphill climbs on the planet. Twenty two teams, each with nine riders, will start the race with the plan to come out victorious. If the Tour were all about business, you could easily equate the winning of the Tour de France to that of closing a mega target account at mega key account level. So, let's look a few of the sales strategies we can take away from the Tour de France.
1. Practice – Practice – Practice. It's safe to say that no one who plans to win the TDF shows up unprepared. The top tour riders have studied, practiced, dialed in their nutrition, reviewed, practiced, rehearsed... and have thought through every scenario again and again all before they get up to go on the first day of the race. The same thing should happen when selling to a super key account or very important prospect. Rehearse, practice, study, role play, practice… do what it takes so that from the moment contact is made, you are ready.
2. Have a plan or a strategy to win the race. At the end of every stage in the TDF it's typical to see a quick interview with the winner of the day. In almost every case, the winner will point to the fact that he was victorious that day because he and his teammates stuck to the plan they had laid out; they were each focused on doing what they knew they needed to do. This applies in the business world too. Before going after that big prospect or diving into next year's agreement with your larger account, make sure you have a plan (you might call this a key account growth plan). Take the time to make sure everyone involved at your company knows what the plan is... and that you are intend to have flawless execution.
3. Pay attention and don't be afraid to make adjustments. As a fan of the Tour de France, I can tell you it never goes according to plan. Something is certainly going to mess up the strategy. Perhaps it's the weather, or maybe a mechanical issue with the bike. It could be a wreck on the road or even a sickness like the stomach flu… but regardless, the person who wins the TDF is paying attention to what is going on all around and is making the right adjustments to put himself in the best possible position. This has a strong correlation to the business world and is an excellent lesson in sales strategy. The best, most thought out plan might not always work… a true professional is paying attention and is not afraid to make the needed adjustments to insure success for the client. By paying attention, not only will you be victorious, but you will also earn a very happy and satisfied customer.
So, now it's your turn. This is a great summer for sports! What sales strategies can you see in the Tour de France? Or the Olympics? Or even outside of sports and perhaps in everyday life? Please share your observations about the business lessons and sales strategies we can all learn from.
Matt Sunshine is Executive Vice President at The Center for Sales Strategy.