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Basketball and Business, Does your team have the right skills?
27 March 2016

Does Your Business Team Have The Right Skills? (March Madness Edition)

This post evolved from a conversation with a colleague, Gina Trimarco, of Pivot10 Results, a leadership, sales, and service trainer, a studier of people, and a fantastic business sage. Gina uses analogies and metaphors in much of her training and coaching so I challenged her to take part in our March Madness Business blogging and asked her to talk about how she works with business leadership and teams to convert more opportunities to sales. 

Gina asks,

Do you have the right players? Can they Pivot, or are they keeping you Stuck in Place?

We’re all hyped up right now, filling out brackets and cheering on our favorite college teams in “The Big Dance” – the highlight of March, other than that day we drink Green Beer, right!

While we’re all interested in dunks, buzzer beaters, and Cinderella stories, we take for granted the fundamentals and finesse that are practiced and honed to get to this level and to win it all.

To win in basketball, the team needs to shoot the ball in the goal and score higher than the opposing team, right? Sounds pretty straight-forward but it’s a little more complex than that. There are core skills players must execute on the court to advance their team to the opportunities that win the game.

Successful players need to be able to effectively DRIBBLE the ball, PASS the ball, SHOOT the ball and PIVOT in your offense. All of these actions are necessary to play and win the game. Each player has certain strengths, some more skilled in the execution of their roles than others.

While the common belief is that shooting the ball is the most important because it leads to scoring and winning, the ability to pivot is essential for dribbling, passing and shooting.  To pivot is to be able to quickly improvise a strategy to shoot and win by changing direction on the court.

In the game of business do your players have the right skills?

Shooting The Ball – we all understand this.  The goal is to shoot and score, pitch your business and close the deal, roll out a new idea and generate more revenue, etc.  Anyone can shoot because shooting is intuitive but not all can score. And, not everyone is comfortable with shooting or the pressure of missing shots. They’d rather be dribbling or passing for the team. And let’s face it there’s at least one person on your team that should never take shots (ie – be in front of customers). Do you recognize someone who needs to ride the bench (or be off the team altogether)?

Shooting to score takes practice, tenacity, correct stance and grip, motion and a variety of other techniques. With opposing competition trying to block the win a business needs highly trained, confident and talented shooters.

What do great shooters look like on your team?

  • Are they connected throughout the customer organization?
  • Are they disciplined in their practice and sales efforts?
  • Do they have high sales conversion rates?
  • Do they exceed customer service expectations that lead to repeat sales?

Most likely they’ve trained to be excellent and continue to practice their techniques and skills. If you don’t have any of these people on your team, you’re probably not winning as much business as you’d like (or need) to.

Passing The Ball – to pass the ball in basketball, players need touch, vision, dexterity and strength. A good pass is one that is caught but, more importantly, a good passer is a playmaker, someone who doesn’t necessarily pass the ball to where the person is, but knows how to create those openings and passes the ball to where their teammate needs to be.

Who are the strong passers (delegators, leaders, project managers) on your team? Who needs help with their passing techniques, making plays, as well as with the ability and willingness to receive?

Heck, many people in your organization “pass the ball” like a hot potato. Those passing the ball are either smartly delegating the next task in a process to get to a win . . . or they don’t know proper passing techniques, thus, they aimlessly hand off responsibilities to others out of fear of owning a project, fear of failure or fear of accountability.

Your team needs players who can support each other to generate revenue, serve customers, inspire employees and operate the business. If they don’t have the necessary skills to “pass the ball”, and be playmakers, they will never score.

Dribbling The Ball – Dribbling is performed by one player and requires talent to get closer to the goal while avoiding the competition’s attempt to intercept. It takes strength and stamina to move past the defenders to create opportunities to win.

The difference between a passer and a dribbler is that the dribbler is kind of running solo until he sizes up the opportunities, calls the play at the top of the key and sets the offense into motion.

Who are your dribblers, the people who are willing to go the distance and ignore the competition to reach the goal, close the sale, hire the next awesome team member? Who on your team has the ability to run solo when needed while being a productive team member?

Pivoting or Pivot Foot – Pivoting is one of the most basic AND an essential skill to effectively dribble, pass, shoot and score. It’s like needing air to breathe or a company culture that everyone understands and embraces to do their jobs.  To play defensively on the court or in business team members need the proper “foot work” while moving the ball to the goal. And while there are rules about pivoting in the game of basketball, the core fundamentals make business sense.

To pivot requires keeping one foot firmly stationary at all times while the other foot spins around to choose a new direction to take the ball. To outrun the competition a smart player will pivot quickly in multiple directions to see all options and then make a choice without second guessing.

Who are your Pivoters?

In business, we don’t always recognize the pivot people – the ones willing to take risks, try new paths, embrace change, and see all challenges as opportunities. Their “foot work” is quick. Pivoters are confident because their feet are planted firmly in a strong culture that supports their decisions and choices.With competition breathing down their necks they don’t have a lot of time to contemplate. They “just do it”. They are the secret weapon to winning the game.

So, who do you think is the MVP on your team? The Shooter, The Pivoter, The Dribbler, The Passer or a combination of all four?

Which of these players are you in most need of and how’s your bench depth?

It takes the skills of everyone on the team to move opportunities forward, score consistently and win the game.”

Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer, Pivot10 Results

Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer, knows how toGina Trimarco, Pivot10 Results, Business Coach, Sales Trainer pivot to profits from problems and find joy through the process.
Her philosophy is that performance pays and people need to be trained to perform on the stage of business to achieve results.

Which is how she pivoted her coaching firm, Gina and Company, into the new Pivot10 Results, a training and development company that helps business teams to quickly adapt their communications and engagement skills in leadership, customer and sales to achieve results by providing them experiential learning tools and strategies.

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