Ben Cohen (Wall Street Journal), recently wrote an article titled "The Basketball Team that Never Takes a Bad Shot", profiling the Pine City, Minnesota (USA) high school basketball team. He says, "The NBA's most efficient offenses seek out layups and threes. [This high school] takes the idea to the extreme."
Pine City reduces their mid-range shots to only 4.2% of their game, instead taking 95.8% of their shots as either layups or three-point range. Why? Because mid-range shots are the sport's least efficient shots. "Pine City," he wrote, "has become so obsessed with efficiency that its players don't bother looking at the basket if they're not in the paint or behind the arc."
Why the extreme focus on efficiency? Pine City doesn't have anyone on the team taller than 6' 2". In other words, they need to compensate for players with only average ability. Still, Pine City went 12-4 in their most recent season playing against teams stacked with arguably much better talent.
You might have a B2B sales team that could merit a similar description. Metaphorically, are most or all of your account executives average players "less than 6-foot-2"? Maybe you can't afford incredible talent. How can you still win?
The answer, follow Pine City's example, and never take "a bad shot". Become obsessed with efficiency.
What does that mean? It means, never spending time with a bad lead. Just like Pine City, the more time you spend with a bad lead, the less time you're spending taking a higher percentage "shot". In other words, try to focus 95% of your reps' time allocated to sales conversations with highly qualified, pre-educated leads.
What's the equivalent of having account executives shoot only three pointers and layups? How can you educate them beforehand? What we've found at Consensus is that by delivering highly personalized video-based solution demo from our demo automation platform that the prospect takes on their own time can dramatically increase the quality of the lead. If a lead watches a Consensus demo before the first appointment with an Account Development Manager, they are 34% more likely to become an opportunity (let's call that the layup). If the lead watches the demo and shares it with at least one other person, they are 81% more likely to become an opportunity (there's your 3 pointer).
Jake White, with Torch LMS, says "By the time we get on the phone with a lead, they are already well educated and might be 80 to 90% of the way there." He says that requiring their leads to watch not only one but two Consensus demos BEFORE talking to them has "essentially changed the way we've done business."
Chad Edwards, VP of Sales at Renaissance Learning, says, Consensus' personalized demo automation "is a perfect tool to send a demo out in safe, comfortable environment…we can help them educate themselves and shorten that sales cycle."
To do this, personalized prospect education has to scale. We need to pre-educate our customers before we engage with them and refuse to spend time with those who won't participate in self-education. This works well because according to recent research into B2B buying behavior, "the single most influential aspect of any vendor's website is 'relevant content that speaks directly to my company'" (2016 B2B Buyer's Survey Report, DemandGen).
Our own Consensus sales staff doesn't talk to a lead unless they have watched over 4 minutes (on average) of product demo videos. Some Consensus customers average more than 5 minutes of product demo video education per qualified lead. That his huge qualification and product education.
Compare that to reaching out to someone who has filled out a form to download a whitepaper. Most leads that sales reps talk to are the equivalent of taking the mid-range shot. The might work out, but it's rare. On the flip side, over 300 teams use Consensus to pre-educate their leads so that they get closer and closer to that 95%.
As sales and business leaders, we can learn from Pine City's basketball team and become obsessive about efficiency to increase our results dramatically, even if we don't have superstars on our teams. It doesn't mean we'll make "every shot", but the chances go way up.