A recent Harvard Business Review article summarizes lessons businesses can learn from the greatest comeback in sports history: the Oracle team’s unexpected victory over New Zealand in the 2013 America’s Cup.

It highlights the value of 'performing with speed' by 'learning at speed', and what it takes to do so. This includes the importance of analytics that let you see and understand performance in a new light. Such analytics sharpen your resolve to try things you wouldn’t otherwise think to try (or be motivated to try).

Here are the 6 key takeaways for B2B sales teams:

1. Loosen up and perform as a team

Dump rigid routines on specialized tasks; replace them with approaches that "allow people to make smart, spontaneous moves to create customer value, in coordination with others."

2. Learn and adapt, fast

When disruption strikes, transform instantly.

3. Be curious

Make your own luck with an endless curiosity.

4. Be resolute

Use setbacks to steel your resolve. It's not whether or not something you try fails, it's your persistence in trying other things, with resolve, that matters.

5. Focus on improvement

Experiment, fast, in the pursuit of improving performance. "If an experienced crew and skipper agree a change might [improve performance], you must try it."

6. Get data so valuable you can trust it

If you have good data, respect it (and park your instincts). "Better metrics often produce surprises"—and results no one would normally expect to see.

This kind of approach works in B2B sales. It’s team-based. It’s learning-centric. It’s experimentation-driven. It’s analytics-enabled. It’s aimed at triggering small wins that can create big momentum.

Last month, I was privileged to participate in one firm’s use of the approach. It produced what might have been ‘the greatest comeback in sales performance history.’ In just two and a half hours, a sales team:

  • saw, with performance analytics, that a selling tactic, tested over the previous few days, wasn’t working,
  • discussed an exception where ‘spontaneous moves to create value’ were working,
  • designed a new tactic, based on what ‘an experienced crew and skipper agreed on as changes that might improve performance,’
  • started calling in, to their ‘war room’ at headquarters, to say “thanks: the new tactic’s working,”
  • provoked high fives in the ‘war room’ among the executives who’d facilitated the team discussion, team design of the new tactic, and fast deployment into the hands of Reps in the field.

The firm’s president witnessed it firsthand. He was in the ‘war room’ as the ‘experienced skipper.’ His feedback: "That was amazing."

Just like Oracle’s unexpected win at the America’s Cup. 

 About the Author:

6a01910500243b970c01901f0a5080970b-120siJohn is the founder and CEO of innovative information inc., makers of Amacus. His firm provokes improved B2B sales productivity by helping sales teams see + improve the buyer value of their sales practices.




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