Linsanity Selling

OK, I’m jumping on the bandwagon.  I can’t help myself.  I promise my use of Jeremy Lin to make a point about selling complex solutions to the enterprise will not be the typical “work hard and persevere then your long shot dreams will come true,” although there’s little doubt that his is an irresistible parable for that point.

Jeremy Lin has demonstrated not that anyone can overcome everything and accomplish anything, but that when you layer hard work, perseverance, and really . . . a dream ON TOP of a rare combination of talents and abilities (as well as a healthy dose of luck and timing) THEN you can hit and even exceed seemingly wildly ambitious goals.

First hire sales people with the raw talents to be successful.   Just like not anybody can be a great singer or great basketball player, not anybody can be a great enterprise seller of complex solutions.  Second, arm your sales team so they can emulate those things the great performers do different.  That won’t turn everyone into an All-Star, but it will improve those things that matter in complex enterprise selling.  Things like ASP, Sales Cycle time, and Conversion.

No, Jeremy Lin is not the kind of freakish athlete that Lebron James, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, or Dwayne Wade are, but like just about every player in the NBA he brings a rare combination of speed, size, strength, anticipation, and aggressiveness that most of us – 99.9% of us - just don’t have.  Like most NBA players he dominated in High School and College.  He had raw talent to start with.

Point is the NBA is like a lot of things.  It takes Jacks or better to get in.  Do you know what raw talents are required for your enterprise salespeople to become successful?  What things do you look for?  Is there a Jeremy Lin hidden right under your nose?  A rolodex isn’t a talent.  Good shooting form is a skill.  But, being able to explode past your man with a first quick step is a talent. 

I played basketball with Jeremy Lin a couple of times at my gym here in the bay area, while he was playing for the Warriors.  I’m a very old man in basketball years, but they still allow me on the court occasionally.  Play and watch enough you eventually learn to see those basic things that tell you “this guy has it.”  No guarantees, but the pieces are there.  For sales people I believe the analogies to the quick first step, the instant anticipation, the aggressive yet graceful body control are:

  • Insatiable curiosity and the ability to leverage it
  • Ability to build almost instant rapport
  • Ability to drive a conversation, or process, or even person.
This isn’t to diminish Jeremy Lin’s – or anyone’s - hard work and perseverance.  It’s inspirational and necessary.  Without that he wouldn’t be in the NBA.  But without the size, speed, and other base talents he would have had no chance at all.

Do you know how to find your Jeremy Lins?