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Brendan Harding

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Related Topics: CRM, Sales Coaching


Crossing the sales line as a winner

And the winner is!

It's all history now, but there are still lessons to be learned from that balmy August night in 2017. Billed to be one of the greatest spectacles in athletics history, the London Stadium was ready and waiting to say a fond farewell to one of its greatest living sons.

Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, a nine-time Olympic champion and holder of the world 100m sprint record has a maxim by which he lives, ‘There is a simple rule when you run a distance - the faster you run, the faster you reach the finish line.'

Being first across the finish line is just as important for the entrepreneur and the salesperson as it is for the pro-athlete. The comparisons between running a distance and running a business is always prevalent.

Just like Usain Bolt on that August night, and every other night of his professional athletic career, Bold repeated time and again, "I don't want to be second best". And so it should be with you, and your business.

The moment the gun goes what do you and your team bring to the race to ensure success? Is it the power of a unique service, second-to-none commitment to hard work, a well-defined and structured sales process,  the best support team, or your placement in a niche market; these are all the pointers towards your overall success.

Out of the blocks running


Bolt's style has consistently been described as ‘track-devouring', step by assured step. In business, as in sport, time plays a vital role. A well designed and implemented sales management process can eat up those yards for you in a smart, energy-saving and practical manner. Each step getting you closer to the finish line.

There are many right steps to take to get to your goal, but there are also many wrong steps which will go a long way towards slowing you down, and ultimately ensuring the outcome.

Using Teamgate sales CRM with linkedin integration you can make sure you're out of the blocks running and capturing leads directly from Linkedin. In a simple and fluid process give yourself the advantage of increased speed in lead-building from the outset. Also using the Teamgate CRM with email integration marketing campaigns have never been easier to design and manage.

And Bolt? More of that later.

Failure to follow-up

Carrying the mantra ‘I've done my work, now bring on the race', shouldn't be the mantra that leaves you spitting your competitors' dust. Poor planning and the lack of understanding of your competitors can leave you in their wake and far from the winner's podium.

This failure can be as simple as sending an offer to a client, without follow-up. Expecting the client to act solely on that offer is as good as doing nothing. Akin to an athlete saying, ‘I have the most expensive track shoes, so I'm going to win'. It doesn't work like that.

The race has only started and there's a lot of work to be done; calls to be made, timing your move perfectly, and overtaking your competitors at just the right time, while consuming the least amount of energy.

Too slow to make your move

Timing is critical. And, in the sales process, as in racing, expending energy at the right time is vital. Sales reps need to consider carefully the length of time invested in each stage of the process (using your CRM analytics is a great way to achieve this). Here you can determine exactly where your time and energy are being consumed unwisely, energy that could be focused better in another stage of the sales pipeline.

You don't want to be second best

If Usain Bolt spent too much time training incorrectly it would be considered as a waste of time, and a waste of talent. Sales reps can also be guilty of spending too much time in a day working on deals which are ‘hardly-closed', or ‘barely-open'. These are the open laces of your race, the wet surface, the stumbling blocks of your success. It means these deals are on-hold, wasting your time, and holding you back. If you don't want to be second best, avoid the pitfalls and concentrate on acquiring a ‘finish-line-faster mentality'.

Let your CRM be your coach

Glen Mills, - in case you didn't know - is an athletics coach, but not just any athletics coach, he is the coach of Jamaica's Racers Track Club, the home stable of Usain Bolt, Johan Blake, and a plethora of other champions.

Your sales team should have a Glen Mills, and if they have the best possible Client Relationship Management (CRM) software, they've come a long way towards having that advantage.

Using a coach like Mills - just like using a smart and strong CRM - gives you the advantage of making the finish line first.

Mills teaches his proteges how to race smarter, how to train harder, how to follow up on both failure and success in a well qualified and analytical manner. How to eliminate mistakes, how to avoid spending too much time and effort on a particular stage of the race. And just like a smart CRM, he teaches you where the finish line is, and how to get there first.

Another means of giving you that extra burst of speed you need is by using PieSync; offering you a two-way contact between two apps. With the Teamgate sales CRM and PieSync integration sync your contacts using a host of applications - Google contacts, MailChimp and more.

If your CRM was a Glen Mills it would be asking you questions like the following:

  • For how long do your opportunities stay in each stage?

  • How long has the opportunity stayed in the previous stage?

  • How many opportunities have become idle haven't been migrated from one stage to the next in days, weeks, or even months?

  • Have you over-calculated or under-calculated the length of your sales cycle?

  • Where is your sales pipeline becoming bottlenecked?

  • Which actions need your urgent attention?

Just like any smartly designed and rigorous training programme, well defined CRM stages will teach you how to reach the finishing tape first. But it doesn't happen overnight. You and your team need to continuously analyse and tinker with your process until you get it exactly right. Keeping your CRM simple and smart will ensure your place on the podium time after time.

There will be setbacks,

but learn to use them wisely


Just like all athletes in training, here at Teamgate when we hit a problem it needs to be identified, analysed, and corrected - and fast.

One such problem Teamgate faced was in the reporting stage of our sales pipeline. Our sales teams were attempting to report their status to the sales director on a daily basis, prospect after prospect, problem after problem, and situation after situation. Even when attempting to overcome this blockage in the pipeline it was conducted in the incorrect manner, wasting even more time and energy.

However, there were lessons to be learned even here, and the problem was solved; streamlining our sales process into the bargain. It resulted in us showing our whole process in more detail, with every movement and migration through the stages being displayed in real-time. We made sales pipeline management simple and gave our salespeople the power to lead from the start of the whole process. It's this attention to detail and focus on the opportunities at hand which gives the whole team a better chance of working towards the common good and smoothing the path towards crossing the line.

History remembers the winners - or does it?

Back to London on that balmy night in 2017. The athletes geneflected on their blocks, the starter's gun sounded, and 9.92 seconds later Justin Gatlin had torn up the script.

It was supposed to be Bolt's swang song, the ultimate bow-out from a mesmerising career in the fast-lane, the fairy tale ending. But Gatlin, and Christian Coleman in second place, had scrubbed the storyline. Bolt finished in third, in a time of 9.95 seconds, to the silent dismay of the faithful gathered to witness Nero receive his laurel wreath. There would be no accolades is seemed.

Instead, an audible anger was deflected towards the winner, twice banned from the international field for doping offences. Boos rang out around the stadium. The scene had turned from one of carnival celebration to one of ugly derision.

It seemed that Bolt had finally lost. But, as the world teaches us, especially in the midst of great people, not crossing the line first doesn't make you a loser. Bolt was first to genuinely congratulate the victor. In interview after interview the giant of a man - in every sense - heaped praise on Gatlin, his friend and competitor.

Even in not crossing the line first Bolt, still somehow managed to act like the winner he had always been.

Even in business there's a huge lesson to learn from Bolt's magnomanity, never give up, even on a lost situation. If there's nothing to be recovered, there's always something to be learned. Valuable advice right across the sales process, no matter who you are.

Tips for crossing the line first


The race is about to start, so try to keep these simple tips in the forefront of your mind:

  • Design your sales pipeline in a way that suits your prospects.

  • Time is critical. Be sure that the time taken on each step of your sales process in measurable and correctly reflects the time invested.

  • Keep your sales pipeline clean and easy to read by avoiding pending deals.

  • A simple tip is to install a TV screen on your office wall displaying the movement within your sales pipeline. It will really help motivate your whole team.

  • Don't clutter your sales pipeline - discriminate between products and services in your sales pipeline.

  • Set goals for winning conversion and try to beat the record which you've set you and your team.

More Stories By Brendan Harding

Brendan Harding is an Irish-born content creative living and working in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Before his engagement with Teamgate, Brendan spent over 12 years roaming the globe, visiting over 80 countries as a travel journalist, writing for both traditional and online publications. As a content creative with Teamgate his role is to find new angles for telling interesting, informative, and educational stories in a new way, from the world of business and entrepreneurship.