The Spread Offense AND Complex Sales Strategy

The spread option offense
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s an interesting blog I read this week.

The Spread Offense AND Complex Sales Strategy

via Heavy Hitter Sales Blog by Steve Martin on 9/12/10

You can find me on every fall Saturday in one of three places; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum watching the USC Trojans, in Strawberry Canyon to see the University of California at Berkeley Bears play, or in the broadcast booth for radio station KSBR as color commentator for Saddleback College Gauchos football.

Today, there’s an offensive football strategy revolution that also has practical applications to complex sales strategy. The spread offense (and closely related cousins “Run and Shoot” and “Wildcat” offenses) are quickly replacing Pro-Style offenses in the pros, colleges, and at high schools. The spread offense is not just a different formation, it is an entirely different way of thinking about the game. Let’s examine how the tenets of this philosophy also apply to complex enterprise sales.

CHANGE THE GAME. The spread offense is a pass-first offense that is contrary to the “old school” belief that the running game should be established before passing.

Sales ApplicationThe long-standing belief that customers are logical, rational decision makers is incorrect. Prospective customers have personal biases and are influenced by organizational politics and the personalities involved in group decision making. You must understand all of the people involved in the enterprise selection process and build your strategy based upon the selfish interests that motivate them to buy.

SPREAD OUT. The spread offense employs four or five wide receivers to disperse the defense horizontally across the field in order to create seams to pass or run between.

Sales Application: Enterprise salespeople need to spread themselves out across from the bottom to the top of all the departments of the customer’s organization. The tendency for most salespeople is to remain single-threaded in accounts. Meaning, they only have one main contact with whom they interface with.

GO DEEP.  The outside wide receivers primary objective is to run as fast as they can to beat the defensive backs and win deep in the spread offense.  At ten yard increments the receiver reads the defender. Only when the defender is maintaining coverage will he slam on his breaks and come back down to the line of scrimmage for the ball.

Sales Application: Most salespeople wait until the very end of the sales cycle to introduce their VP of Sales, CEO, or other senior leaders into an account. Try reversing this old habit and introduce them at the very beginning of the sales cycle. Use your senior leaders to go deep and meet with the highest levels of the customer’s organization as soon as possible in the sales cycle.

UP-TEMPO. While conventional offenses call plays in the huddle, the spread offense frequently employs an up-tempo, fast-paced, no huddle play calling strategy to confuse the defense and create mismatches.

Sales Application: If you have been selling a complex technical solution for many years, the natural evolution of your selling style is to rely on the features and functions of your product to carry your customer conversations. Maybe you should ask yourself if you are truly displaying a genuine up-tempo enthusiasm for the product you sell, the company you work for, and your sales career when you are face-to-face with customers.

Although the spread offense may seem new, its roots can actually be traced to the 1930’s and TCU’s Dutch Meyer. Thus proving that Harry Truman was right when he said, “The only thing new, is the history you don’t know.”

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