I was recently working with my clients in Australia. During my time there I have had the opportunity to watch my friend's son play cricket. As I learned the rules of the game and watched the teams play, I realized cricket offers a number of take away lessons for sales and for life.
For those who aren't familiar with cricket, it is the world's second most popular game. It is played by over 120 million players from around the world and viewed by millions more fans. Cricket is a ball and bat game played with 11 players. It's played on a field with an area in the center called a pitch. The games range in length from 20 overs (set of 6 over the shoulder throws in each over) to 5 days for Test matches.
So, what can you learn from watching or playing cricket? Here are 5 take-away lessons:
- Spirit of the Game – Sportsmanship and fair play are so important in the game that, it is responsible for the phrase "it's just not cricket" to refer to under-handed or unfair behavior in both business and social life. The spirit of obeying the rules is so high, players will signal the umpire even when he has not declared them out. That high level of fair play and sportsmanship commands high regard for the game and its players. Behaving the same way in business and personal interactions will build trust and respect. That level of trust will bring brand and personal loyalty along with consistent sales, not just a one-time hit. The customer will also turn to you as a resource for information and honest opinions.
- Strategy – Like other sports, cricket players and their coaches spend many long hours preparing for every game. They review the skills and standing of the upcoming competitive team, just like a good salesperson reviews the customer and the competition before making a call. They review the competitor's form and their previous wins and losses. Being thoroughly knowledgeable about your competition will allow you to plan your course of action. Also, being thorough in your research of the customer will allow you to choose the right product or solution and which of your strong points you will highlight.
- Patience – In cricket the batsman must be very patient and not swing at balls they do not feel are good opportunities for them to score a run. Also the situation may not be right at the moment. Perhaps, the light may not be right. If there is too little light for the batsman to see the ball, the game must be continued the next day. Also, the weather may interfere with the progress of the game. However with patience the players can make the plays and win the game. In business the customer may not be ready to make a decision when we make our first call. We do have to work to move the sense of urgency forward, but we can't lose patience and become too forceful or we risk losing the sale. Customers like to feel they have made the decision to buy and were not coerced into the purchase. You don't want buyer's remorse or a lack of cooperation when delivering or installing the purchase. It is important to have patience and wait for the right time and to ensure you follow process.
- Focus – As in other sports, the cricket manager or coaches can signal the player to use a specific tactic or how to execute it. In business the manager or trainer can make strong recommendations but ultimately it is up to the sales person to execute the skills and tactics to make the sale. It takes focus on the goal and analysis of the sales progress through the steps. The player must also focus on the status of the bowler and the fielders. Likewise the sales person must be alert to changes in the status or attitude of the customer. If you take your eye off the goal and the status of your situation and progress, you can lose to the competition.
- Practice – It's not just stepping up to bat, and taking a swing at the ball. The batsman practice long hours on batting and leg movements. They work their way up from school and community games through college, semi pro and professional. They have both classroom and field training. It takes many hours to become an expert at any position in cricket. Likewise, the sales person must hone their skills in training programs and in the field. Coaching and feedback can be a great make great contributions to skill improvement which leads to greater sales.