Momentum: The key to a winning sales team

by | Jun 26, 2009 | Sales Culture

If you took Physics you might remember the classic formula for momentum is p=mv; where p is momentum which equals mass times velocity.
Keep reading! This is not an uncomfortable pop quiz. Remember, we talked before about the relative valuation of social intelligence vs. analytical intelligence. Physics and sales are, of course, different practices and our business world requires both of these honest trades to function. What we find fascinating is the extent of the crossover.

We can develop a comparative analogy between Newtonian momentum (p=mv) and sales momentum. We can develop a similar formula for success with a winning sales team. In physics p=mv, this is the relative measure of the amount of kinetic energy in a moving body. Sometimes this formula is used to determine the impulse needed to get a resting body moving; other times it is used to examine the inertia of a body. All these italicized words from physics have crossed over into our everyday language in sales. Why is that?

In many of the sales’ team meetings and sales training workshops that I’ve participated in over the years, a “buzz word” that keeps cropping up is velocity or speed – more “borrowed” words from physics. In physics velocity is measured by distance moved over an interval of time; here in sales, velocity means moving the sales cycle forward and bring business to closure.

We keep hearing these critical questions in our profession:

• From the professional on the front line: “What can we do to move that sale along and close before the end of the quarter?” “How many deals do we have in our pipeline?”
• From the sales vice president: “How can I help? What resources do we need?”
These questions crop up time and time again at the end of each quarter and again at the end of the year. And it’s coming up on that time of year now. Do you have the winning answers?

In the best of all worlds, here is what we would like to experience:

• The contract will be signed today and they want to start next Monday on the implementation. They plan to pay in advance to get the 3% discount.
• They have two other facilities they decided to include on the initial phase of the project.
• I must send apologies to this customer. We cannot meet this week because our calendar is already full with 3 other prospects that insist on seeing us immediately.

This was my dream last night, and then I woke up! This is your wake up call. “Sales” is a game of momentum, part of which is definitely psychological for both the sales leader and their team members. Just as in physics, momentum is mass times velocity. Mass is the entire team. Is this a mass at rest or a mass in motion? Velocity is the speed with which the team executes to win both new and existing business. Everyone is aligned on the same vector. As members of the team win business, it can be contagious for the other members that buy in to the team’s leader and their philosophy for winning business. Inertia is overcome. The team gains momentum.

Back to our formula analogy. There are three points that seem to be present with every winning sales team. m times v equals p:
• (m) The first point is all team members must buy into the leader’s vision on where the team is headed. More motion equals more momentum. With the team in motion, there is an attitude of “Playing to win”; everyone does what it takes to close the business. Here the leader leverages the strengths of each team member and doesn’t focus on someone’s weakness. Momentum is apparent to the customer and becomes contagious. The team’s every action expresses: “We will do what it takes for you the customer to be successful.” “Playing to win” puts the customer first, and our commission, second.

• (v) The second point is gaining “confidence”. Velocity is speed aligned along a specific vector, distance traveled along one direction in a unit of time. As each team member closes a piece of business, it boosts the confidence of every team member that is aligned with the goals and philosophy of the team. Just look at any sports team that has “momentum” moving the ball down the field or firing the ball across the plate. They know what’s working for them. Your confidence from knowing who you are and how you can help customers will be conveyed in your behavior when meeting with the customer, be they Gold, Blue, Green or Orange personalities.

• (p) The third point comes from exercising points one and two: Performance. “Playing to win” times “having confidence” leads to an increase in “sales activity”. The sales plan is working. Team members are now at the point that things are clicking. They know what works for them and they maximize their performance. By repeating successful activities and picking up the pace they have gained momentum. With more successes, the team becomes full of energy. Since activity levels are increasing, a little rejection does not hurt: they maintain successful inertia. They are busy with multiple opportunities to help customers succeed in their goals and objectives.

Sales is a game of momentum. Yet everything we just covered holds also true for a customer service team or an information technology team. You gather momentum as you exercise social intelligence. Understanding personality styles will add a new dimension to your team’s social intelligence that can bring it to the next level. Understanding each other’s motivations and leveraging the specific strengths of each member ,generates a team impulse to succeed. Great teams play to win, have confidence in themselves and their teammates, and enjoy a flurry of activity throughout the year! In short, they perform.