What Free Throws and Sales Have in Common

Wally LongYou might wonder what free throws and sales have in common. According to basketball expert, Brian McCormick, Tim Duncan has a problem – a consistency problem. While you don’t hear much about it, Duncan only shoots 60 to 70% from the free throw line, despite being one of the NBA’s best players. What’s really interesting, however, is WHY Duncan struggles from the line.

According to McCormick, it’s because Duncan added movements to his shot that actually over-complicate his shot making. McCormick says Duncan “comes to the line and takes a deep breath with the ball near his waist and his hands on the side of the ball. To shoot, he rotates the ball DURING his shooting motion. His shot, therefore, has a natural flaw; he incorporates inconsistency into his shot. Instead of simplifying, he adds a greater degree of variance which results in his poor (below 70% career) free throw shooting.”

The solution to better performance for Duncan is the same solution for us in sales and business development: Simplify the process and leverage the Power of Consistency.

Oftentimes in sales and business we overcomplicate the process and fail to do the little things on a consistent basis. Instead of focusing on doing just one or two things exceptionally, we become obsessed with doing everything perfectly. The result is frustration and lackluster sales performance. The key to success in sales is to identify one or two small things we can do well and do them consistently.

As the incomparable Jim Rohn once said, “Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

I once grew a small company from $0 to $20,000,000 in 60 months by focusing on doing one simple thing extraordinarily well – one simple thing done on a consistent basis. That one thing was using the Tom Hopkins’ “intent statement” on every sales opportunity. I focused on using this technique on EVERY call. I didn’t use it occasionally. I didn’t use it when I felt up to it. I used it consistently on EVERY CALL.

Because the intent statement sets the ground rules for the sales call with the prospect and because it creates the expectation that the call will come to a completion at a specified point, I didn’t waste time chasing down deals that were never going to happen. I didn’t get strung out by prospects who didn’t have the courtesy to “just say no.”

As a result, I moved from sales opportunity to sales opportunity without the brain damage of looking over my shoulder hoping that older calls were going to magically turn into sales commissions. I stayed focused. I kept my attention ahead of me instead of being distracted by the past.

The key was using this technique on every call. The key was consistently doing one small thing exceptionally well and doing it every time. The key was focusing on one thing and doing it well on a consistent basis.

Far be it from me to give NBA great Tim Duncan advice; but if he asked (which I seriously doubt he will) I would tell him to focus on two things: simplicity and consistency. Keep it simple and do the little things on a consistent basis. It works in sports and it works in sales and business development.

Copyright Weldon Long.

Weldon Long is a New York Times Best-Selling Author, successful entrepreneur, and powerful speaker who inspires and teaches others how to prosper in the face of adversity. Mr. Long has developed his success philosophies in the real world, having overcome a life of poverty and desperation and building his own company from $0 to $20,000,000 in sales in just 60 months. In 2009, his company was selected as one of Inc. 5000 Magazine’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America.