So on Saturday evening last we finally got to witness the most hyped fight in combat sports history when Floyd Mayweather Jr. from the world of boxing took on mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. Being a recreational martial artist myself (we also incorporate some boxing into our sessions) it was a fascinating and entertaining encounter–but as I reflect now, it also highlights some great sales lessons.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather displays all the traits of the best enterprise salesperson you could ever meet. He approaches each fight (read complex sale) as a 12 round bout and plans accordingly – he is not phased or concerned about the length of the process but rather patiently uses it to execute a strategic plan to win, whether it takes all 12 rounds (or 10 as it did against McGregor) or not. He is fully prepared and indeed hopes that his competitors will do the opposite and come out swinging. In sales terms he wants them to overwhelm the prospect with all their best efforts early on and go for the quick close. He is happy when he sees them moving forward aggressively, throwing all of their best punches and wearing themselves out. He, on the other hand, studies the situation, using the early rounds (the early stages of the sales cycle) to gain much deeper insight into the situation, and then decide on whatever adjustments need to be made to his game plan. Just as in an enterprise or complex sales situation, he knows he will be rewarded if he uses the early stages to learn, to adjust, to validate and then come on strong in the later stages.
McGregor in contrast is like a more one-dimensional sales person who perhaps even has the superior product–maybe his left hand has more power than either of Mayweather’s–but if he can’t persuade the prospect of this immediately (in other words land it early and KO his opponent) then it becomes less effective as he tires to the point where it is ultimately having no impact in the process. The ability to adjust and to bring more dimensions to a long, complex sales cycle will shine a negative light on the one dimensional seller and in contrast reflect positively on the skillful enterprise seller.
Now don’t get me wrong; everyone loves a quick close, even the most skillful enterprise sellers. But the difference is, like Mayweather, they prepare for 12 rounds because just as in boxing (or MMA for that matter) there are very few participants who have real, one-punch knockout power. So regardless of whether you care for Mayweather’s careful, clinical style (and many don’t), from an enterprise sales analogy, he provides the blueprint for how to successfully win a complex sale. So if you are involved in enterprise or complex sales, ask yourself: Have you prepared for the full 12 rounds? Are you ready to be patient and studious in the early rounds (even when you are getting punched in the nose by competitors)? And above all do you have enough skill to adjust and adapt as the process unfolds, or will you still be trying to land that one big, knockout punch?
What has been your successful strategy in complex sales–preparing for the long game or taking that one super swing? Leave a comment and let us know.
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