Sales is a Competitive Sport!

Sales is a Competitive Sport!

Every sales opportunity has one winner and multiple losers, just like in competitive sports. So, sellers can learn from world-class athletes. Likewise, we can learn that selling requires dedication, discipline, creative thinking, and hard work.

We, sellers, can also learn the power of visualization. Champion athletes always have a plan to win. Before any competition, champions have already run the race to victory and defeated all competitors in their mind.

Sellers should do the same. In every sales campaign, every seller should visualize closing the deal on a specific date and then work backward to the present by asking what tasks, events, and actions must occur to meet the committed close date.

As any seller is visualizing the ideal closing plan, they also need to anticipate all outside factors that can derail the plan. For example, what do I expect the competition will do? How do I neutralize my competitors’ initiatives? Does the customer have a hidden agenda that can derail my plans?

When preparing to win the Olympic mile, the runner anticipates the pace and the split time at each quarter mile required to win. The runner also knows each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, when they will make their move, and prepare to counter with competitive action. Every seller must be as prepared. 

Like world champion athletes, many of the brightest business minds have also articulated visualization as an essential planning and forecasting process.

Russel Ackoff, a leading organizational theorist and the Anheuser-Busch Professor Emeritus of Management Science at the Wharton School, has advocated visualization as a planning tool over the more accepted forecasting method – extrapolation. 

Dr. Ackoff suggested that if you want to build a better plan, start by visualizing your ideal future state and plan backward to one’s current state by identifying all the events and actions required to make the ideal future state a present reality. 

He also advocated constantly testing and adjusting your ideal plan with constraints such as time, resources, and capabilities to build the most realistic goal.

In the seminal book, Mind of the Strategist, Ken-chi (Ken) Ohmae said, “Strategy is about achieving competitive advantage. If there were no competitors, there would be no strategy.” 

Ohmae says that a successful strategy must consider three elements: 

  • The relative strengths and weaknesses of one’s company
  • The needs, requirements, and organization of the customer
  • The relative strengths and weaknesses of all competitors

Part of developing any strategy is being brutally honest about the relative strength of one’s company’s capabilities to satisfy the customer’s requirements compared to competitors’ capabilities to satisfy the same customer’s requirements. The result of this assessment is the relative competitive position to win.

Strategy is the plan to move from the present relative competitive position to the desired relative position of CLOSED WON.

World-class sellers will combine the visualization techniques of world-class athletes with the research of leading business thinkers to craft aggressive sales strategies to WIN. 

Adding Advanced Sales AI’s SalesPath+ software to your Salesforce CRM provides the functionality to implement successful strategies for complex sales. Ask for a free trial account. Contact us at today.


Kevin O’Keefe, CEO,