I love sports and I’m a sucker for Cinderella stories so I was pretty excited to see that Butler made it all the way to the NCAA Basketball Championship final this week. After all, if my beloved Gators couldn’t be there I was glad to see that my dad’s alma mater was represented. Maybe I’m prejudiced, but it seemed to me that most of the country was rooting for Butler. Most of us like to cheer for the underdog and since many folks had never even heard of Butler until the Final Four they were indeed the underdogs against #1 Ranked Duke.
Like it or not, unless you’re working for one of the Fortune 500 companies you too are an underdog when it comes to your business. It’s an uphill battle to get your name to stand out against the competition. Compounding the problem is some scary information that I read years ago that still reverberates. It takes an average of 12 touches to convert a prospect into a customer. And, 50% of sales people give up after the first effort; 90% give up after the second.
Wow! With the odds so highly stacked against us it’s tempting to wave the white flag and admit defeat. But like Butler, or Jimmy Conners who came back from a 1-6, 1-6 deficit to win Wimbledon in 1987, you have to focus on what you can do and not on what the other guy is doing.
Here’s a few coaching tips that apply to both sports and, more importantly, your business.
- Act like a hero. Think of the frustrations you’ve had when contacting large companies (don’t get me started on Comcast!) and then do the opposite when interacting with your customers and prospects.
- Out-distance your competition. I always said that if the other guy only tries to reach someone twice, I’d try to reach them three times. If it takes twelve attempts to win a new customer then make those twelve attempts.
- Use the proper equipment. I doubt that Conners could have won Wimbledon with a broken racquet or holes in his tennis shoes. If you’re going to resort to e-marketing use an ESP (e-mail service provider) to track your results. And by all means use an effective database tool to help you focus on the correct audience.
- If you can’t be bigger, be smarter. Was it me or did the Butler guys look a heck of a lot smaller than the Duke players? The fact that they almost won gives testament to the believe that brains can conquer brawn.
- Don’t think meat, just pitch. In case you didn’t catch it, that’s a reference to what Kevin Costner told Tim Robbins in the baseball classic, Bull Durham. He was trying to get “Nuke” to stop over-thinking everything and trust his mentor. Trust your coach or, if you don’t have one and you’re struggling, hire a great coach or consultant to help you out. It works for major class athletes and it will work for you.
Let the games begin!