Lakers vs. Celtics: Is your sales team championship caliber?

June 21, 2010

What makes a great winning team? Some would argue experienced personnel, teamwork, communication, clearly defined objectives and strategies. At the end of the day it boils down to top talent. When looking at the NBA finals, the two teams that were represented in championship arguably had the best overall talent in the league. As I looked at it closely, the repeat champion Lakers had the highest payroll in the league. The Celtics had the third highest. While salary and talent may not be perfectly parallel, there is a strong correlation to that statistic. To further demonstrate this, 70% of the top 10 payrolls in the NBA made the playoffs. Conversely of the bottom 10 payrolls, only 30% made the playoffs and all of them had losing seasons. When we look at the Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints, they exceeded the salary cap in excess of $1 million and the Indianapolis Colts exceeded the cap by $8 million. Why did they play each other? They had acquired the best talent that fit their organizational goals. The New York Yankees, love them or hate them, consistently spend top dollar for the best talent available. This talent consistently helps them achieve tremendous success year after year.

This notion is no different when looking at your sales organization. Your top sales people are usually your top talent. They are driven, persistent and extremely competitive. They break down walls and seldom lose. In today’s marketplace, it is paramount that sales leaders and organizations find the best talent available. It is extremely costly to make a bad hiring decision. Bad hires can lead to lost sales opportunities, diminishing revenues and plenty of headaches, much like sports organizations that do not develop or acquire great talent. They consistently find themselves struggling to fill their stadiums by mid-season due to their losing ways.

To hoist the trophy will always require the best talent. To be an industry leader, top sales division, etc. it too, will require having the best talent on your team. Winning is infectious, fun and will make you and your organization profitable. Game on!

By Dennis Solo


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan June 21, 2010 at 9:36 pm

First of I love your article. I have been using sports analogies in my sales training and development for years.
The only thing I would add is that it’s not just about talent. Let’s not forget the 2004 Lakers team that was made up of superstars such as Kobe Bryan, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton. This Lakers team was supposed to walk away with the championship but lost to the Pistons in the finals 4 -1.
So what happened? The Lakers had the talent but they not have a team, whereas the Pistons had a team with much less talent.
Once organizations invest in finding the right talent they need leadership understands team dynamics to truly be championship caliber.

Harriette Blye June 23, 2010 at 3:43 am

Dennis, I am not a sports fan like you and my husband but, I do understand the point you are making and I agree.
When we owned a brick and mortar business we always searched for top talent and paid top dollar for them to deliver the results and most times they did. Now, that I am in direct sales working from home I have a different challenge. While I still look for leaders in their field I also look for potential leaders that can be developed as well.
Thank you so much for your article, I really enjoyed it.

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