The NCAA “March Madness” college basketball tournament is one of the highlights of the year for sports fans, with 68 teams battling to advance in a win-or-go-home sudden death tournament that captivates the nation and keeps millions of office workers procrastinating at work.
There are a lot of reasons why the NCAA tournament is so popular with even casual college basketball fans: the excitement of last second buzzer beater shots, the fun of filling out a bracket and entering your local office tournament pool, the thrill of watching big upsets, and the ongoing drama of seeing a “Cinderella” underdog team make a deep run toward the Final Four.
The NCAA tournament is inspiring for a lot of reasons, but if you stop and think about it, there are some surprising parallels between the NCAA tournament and the daily work of sales lead management.
Anyone who works in the sales business knows about the importance of competition, the thrill of the chase, and the unpredictability of where your next “winner” might come from.
As we watch NCAA March Madness this year, let’s look at some of the lead management lessons that sales people can take away from the coaches and players in the NCAA tournament:
Start with the “Favorites”
Whether you’re filling out an NCAA tourney bracket or working through a list of sales leads, it’s important to look at the rankings. Just as some teams are No. 1 seeds or No. 2 seeds, some sales leads are better “ranked” (and have better odds of success).
Pay attention to ranking and sorting your sales leads. Try to determine which ones are most likely to buy, and which ones are most eager to start the sales process. These “high ranked” sales leads are your most likely route to a quick victory in the sales game.
Take it One Step at a Time
The NCAA tournament is a long journey with dozens of games happening over the course of several weeks. Coaches work with their players to stay focused on one game at a time — you can’t win the championship until you get through the first few rounds, and you can’t afford to look ahead or take any opponent for granted. In the same way, working with sales leads requires you to take a focused, patient approach.
Work through every step of your sales process. Don’t get impatient or start to assume that the prospect is ready to go farther into the sales process than they actually are — take it one step at a time, and you’ll be more likely to go far.
You Just Never Know
One of the reasons why the NCAA tournament is so fascinating is that you just never know which teams are going to emerge. Every year, some unheralded team that the experts picked to lose in the first round ends up shocking the world.
In the same way, managing sales leads can be unpredictable, exhilarating, and sometimes heartbreaking. You never know which sales leads are going to convert to sales — sometimes really promising sales leads turn out to say “no,” while the quiet, unpromising sales prospect who didn’t seem interested at all turns out to be a big buyer.
Treat every sales lead with respect and with careful handling — because you never know when it might pay off in a big way.
Enjoy the NCAA tournament! But don’t procrastinate too much on lead management and making your sales calls.
Tournament Bracket Photo via Shutterstock
And if you see an underrated lead take off, don’t be afraid to focus more effort on it. Find the Butlers or VCUs of the field and get on that bus early.