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How to get some traction to win the sales race

How to get some traction to win the sales race

Road to Le Mans

It was my first racing experience; six nights in a campervan on the Le Mans karting track for the Le Mans cup and 24-hour endurance race, I was unsure of what I might encounter. Lucky enough, being involved with the race team, I became completely submerged with the passion, focus and dedication that is required to test, qualify and compete at such an iconic motorsport event.

My journey to Le Mans and its parallels to my career path were more relevant than I first thought. Having recently moved into a corporate sales role, my thoughts encompassed sales strategy, process and execution, along with feelings of excitement, apprehension and nervousness. Before long, I began to find many similarities between sales strategy and the racetrack.

The race team is a great analogy for the sales strategy

The sales process is very much like the track; you’re looking to get from start to finish in the most efficient time, whilst negotiating the multiple variables. This may include, changing conditions or the impact of competitive moves, so it’s vital to remain focussed, passionate and heading in the right direction!

A race team consists of expert designers, engineers, performance analysts, co-ordinators, promoters and sponsors; all committed to achieving the same goal. So, they are reliant on a competent driver to make that happen. Similarly, the professional driver is depending on the team to provide them with a top performance car, that’s mechanically sound with reliable brakes, which will work at 200 mph into a corner! It’s a team sport, with everyone contributing to the win. The same applies to sales; everyone from product development, implementation, customer service, legal, finance, marketing; all play an important role in achieving a sales success.

Everyone is aiming for the podium; first place, a win!

We begin with our objectives for the race and set the car up to suit the requirements; anticipating weather, track conditions and driver preferences. Translated to sales; we prepare our pitch, aligning it to the client’s requirements, whilst remaining agile to an ever-evolving project.

Occasionally a driver and team may well forefit the remaining races in a season due to lack of finance, damage to the car or the sponsor running out of money; for sales this isn’t a dissimilar scenario, with customer budgets or circumstances changing, and as a result, will qualify out.

Race teams remain tight throughout the race, in constant communication with the driver on the track. Without the communication, the driver is ‘blind’ to what’s coming up in their path and will not only underperform, but is at risk of fatal injury.

Communication is key to remain consistent on track, communication aids strategy and can help gain sufficient time if the race suddenly changes, Converted to a sales process; the execution requires open communication with all teams delivering the solution, without them it would be impossible to upskill on product, provide reasonable implementation dates or successfully negotiate a contract process.

Having qualified to compete in a final race, the team work with feedback and adapt to issues that have cropped up along the way; maybe the car needs a slight retune, there’s rubber on the track or the breaks are locking; they will adapt and respond to the feedback at every stage of the competition. As with the sales process, it’s imperative to adjust and improve at every stage of the project; responding and adapting to ensure that we haven’t overlooked something that may impact our final performance to be considered in the running.

It’s race day!

We know what we need to do and that’s to use all the resource and expertise we have to reach the success that everyone is striving for; the team, the driver and the sponsor who has paid to support the team, all want to be spraying the champagne at the end of the race. If everything falls into place as it should; the car is mechanically sound, the team know their roles, the driver is fully supported, then we put ourselves in the best position to win.

When we watch Lewis Hamilton celebrate a win at the Grand Prix, lifting the trophy and spraying the champagne, it’s easy to forget the team who support his success. At Monza we saw Valtteri Bottas hold Kimi Raikkonen up to allow Lewis Hamilton to close up before the late pit stops. After Bottas pitted, Raikkonen’s deteriorating tyres eventually allowed Hamilton to pass him and to win! Did the race strategy use Bottas to keep Raikkonen back for Hamilton to take pole position? Could Hamilton have achieved his win without his team and partner driver?

The car could be the fastest and most advanced on the track, but a win would not be possible without an experienced team and driver. We can all drive but making it around the track and at speed, whilst beating the competition is a completely different challenge.

Just as one race doesn’t define your season, one deal doesn’t define your year. Is everybody on your team helping you to win?

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About the author

Hayley Monger
Corporate Relationships and Business Development

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