You may not be a basketball fan. Or a sports fan at all. But you have to admire the Golden State Warriors, who are in hot pursuit of the all-time record for most wins in a season. Sure, they have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson dominating the league with 3-pointers (which certainly helps!) but what they have accomplished thus far cannot be attributed to just a couple of players. One could argue that their success came directly from the coach.

He did one simple thing that turned a good team into a championship team – and you can do the exact same thing for your sales team.

The Kerr Philosophy

New coach Steve Kerr thought the Warriors were extremely talented but made too many mistakes. Kerr thought that if they didn’t turn the ball over as much, they would be unstoppable. So Kerr instituted a ‘back to basics’ approach in practice, focusing on ‘elementary’ skills such as rudimentary passing and dribbling drills. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well with the team initially. This article quotes Warrior players saying ‘Hey, we’re NBA guys, we don’t need to be doing this stuff’ and ‘ugh, we don’t want to do they petty little drills.’ But as time went on, it was clear to the team that this wasn’t crazy—in fact, it was downright brilliant.

Committing Turnovers

Sales leaders hire ‘experienced’ sales reps because of their proven track record of success. However, the most experienced reps are often the ones committing the simplest mistakes, such as lazy prospecting or sloppy sales presentations. Even if they are hitting quota, I promise you that basic sales activities are being mishandled a lot of the time, leaving revenue on the table.

Sales people often make the mistakes such as:

  • Not asking the tough questions
  • Talking more than listening
  • Failing to demonstrate value in their product

In other words, they turn the ball over too much.

Going back to the nuts and bolts

Are you ready to implement a Golden State Warriors approach? If so, here are 3 ways to get your team re-focused on the basics and reaping the financial rewards.

1. Prospect, Prospect, Prospect.

Unless your reps are consistently crushing quota and drowning in leads, they need to prospect. If Highly-Experienced Jason isn’t prospecting to fill his pipeline, what is he actually doing? Waiting for sales opportunities to just appear?

It’s human nature to choose the path of least resistance and when it comes to prospecting, avoidance is the predominant choice. Nobody likes doing things they can’t excel at and the reality is that sales people don’t like prospecting because they are not good at it. But this is the basic skill, the foundation, for all sales activities. So give your sales team a proven method of prospecting, train them well, train them often and most importantly, hold them accountable.

2. Forecast with data, not your gut.

A lot of forecasts are done with intuition. But in order for a deal to happen, you need to develop a genuine understanding of the business problem, the political landscape, the company’s business priorities and the path to making a deal happen.  Develop sales stages with specific exit criteria from one to the other.  This eliminates conjecture, innuendo and hope that this ‘hot’ lead will turn into a sale.

3. Fine-tune your listening skills.

God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in proper proportion. Remember the old saying ‘Prospects don’t care what you know, until they know that you care’? Listening shows respect and that you truly care about what they have to say—and it forces you to be curious and ask the right questions.

Tony Hughes, sales leader and author of one of the best sales books ever written (The Joshua Principle) states that “Listening is the greatest form of influence”.  After more than 18 years in sales, I whole-heartedly agree. So train yourself to stop talking and start listening. It’s so easy and so critical to your success.

Going back to Sales 101 may seem counterproductive for your experienced team, but as the Golden State Warriors have shown us, there is no substitute for the fundamentals.

Apply this winning approach to your team and I bet you’ll break a few records of your own this season.