Crossing the winning lineWinning in Sport and Winning in Sales have many parallels. I picked out four from the Olympic performances in 2012.

It’s been a fantastic fortnight for sport with the London 2012 Olympics. I’ve visited the Olympic Park and seen a lot of TV coverage, and felt very proud to be British.

I’d like to highlight three sporting characteristics and a fundamental choice that are helpful for us in marketing, sales and business.

Speed and strength for winning the race and winning in sales

Clearly speed is important in races of all sorts, such as cycling, rowing and running. Underneath speed lies a huge amount of fitness, strength and endurance, built up through training, with lots of repetition and routines, plus the right diet and so on.

Marketing and Sales does involve a lot of repetition and routine such as; writing content, sending emails, status updates, phone calls, meetings and more. We can studying what works for us, and improve where we can. This helps us focus on what we do best and reduce or remove things that are a distraction, and by delegating, automating or outsourcing.

I suggest that sales strength comes from building up our marketing assets, sales skills and market position. Sales speed is then about processes that apply the sales resources at the right time to add value to customers and to convince prospects that we are their number one choice.

Tactics to overcome opponents and to build relationships

Evident in combat sports such as judo and boxing, and in badminton and volleyball, and also in cycling, canoeing and all the other sports. The need to out-smart the opponent is present in all sports disciplines, otherwise they’ll outplay you.

In business this translates into finding ways to satisfy customer needs better than the competition. There has been a mind-set change, from viewing the customer as an opponent, to trying to get on their side, so they view us as a team-mate. If we can help our customers get what they want, while also getting what we want, that’s a great basis for successful business. Building relationships on this basis is a great principle, giving value to help others.

Accuracy and precision to do the right things right

Hitting the centre of the target in sports like archery and shooting, getting the ball in the hoop in basketball, clearing the fences in show jumping, executing routines in gymnastics, diving and so-on all require great accuracy. Keeping within the rules also matters, from landing the tennis ball inside the line, to keeping within the lane and change-over zone when cycling in the velodrome.

Marketing and sales is increasingly about precision: right message, right person, right time, right channel and so on. To do this means having the right systems and data, to help us make good decisions, to execute and to monitor the results.

Choosing a role that matches our natural abilities

In order to do well, to win, and to enjoy the activity it is fundamental to choose the right sport to compete in.

If you’re naturally a sprinter you’ll probably not do well in endurance races. If you’re not good in water then swimming and diving are probably non-starters. Sport at school is a great opportunity to find out what youngsters are potentially good at. Sports coaches guide training and development and talent scouts help people who show good potential to move up.

In business the challenge is similar, but the advice is not as readily available. Careers guidance at school, work experience and initial career jobs help people to develop their skills and potential in the workplace. However, in a senior position it is also beneficial to assess entrepreneurial and workplace skills periodically, to help us keep on top of our game.

To discover your natural business strengths, and find out your best role in a team or as a leader, take a look at this entrepreneurial profile assessment (affiliate link). The 8 role profiles are very well presented and I’m sure they will reveal a lot about you. When I took the assessment in 2011 I found it extremely enlightening, as my profile is a Mechanic. Roger James Hamilton is an inspirational speaker too, and his video interviews are good value.

Knowing your primary strength could benefit you significantly over the coming months, by helping you focus where you are naturally gifted and identify others who could compliment you where you are less gifted.

I hope you enjoyed the Olympics as much as I did, and feel motivated for winning in sales as a result.