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From Rio to Revenue: How Channeling the Olympic Games can Boost SMB Sales

Posted on 8.23.2016

:: By Gabe Larsen, ::

With the closing of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the United States celebrated new records, outstanding displays of athleticism and 121 medals, securing our spot as the top nation on the medal count. We witnessed emotional medal ceremonies, profound acts of sportsmanship and prime examples of unconquerable will. 

Although the 2016 Rio Olympics have officially come to a close, the competitive spirit and unity of the of the games can stick with us. Though you and I may not be Olympic athletes, we can still take a few lessons from them and begin executing at Olympic-level performances in business and sales. 

The odds of winning a gold in Rio were three percent. Of the 11,000-plus athletes that competed, only 306 gold medals were awarded. Sales is different and obtaining a gold - 100 percent of your quota, is possible for everyone. Similar to Olympic athletes, sales teams need to develop strategies, optimize processes and maintain determination after missing the mark. After 19 days glued to the television watching these Olympic athletes duke it out for the tile of best in the world, here are my five gold medal strategies to help you win big in your sales Olympics.

Channel Usain - Move Fast: If Usain Bolt could move as fast with contacting sales leads as he does on the track, he would be a killer sales rep. Research shows that a lead who is contacted within five minutes versus 30 min is 100 times more likely to speak with that person. Qualification rates are similar. If you wait longer than one hour, your odds of qualifying a lead decrease 6 times. This data scares people and truthfully makes some uncomfortable. “If I contact a lead too fast, won’t I scare them away?” It’s scary to be fast but if you ask those who watched Usain run the 100m in under 10 seconds the first word out of their mouth was “wow!” The same thing happens when you respond quickly to leads. People like to buy from people who hustle and getting a response from someone in less than five minutes demonstrates hustle. Challenge your team to channel their inner-Usain, or risk letting that revenue run away.

Never Give Up: Michael Phelps didn’t medal in his first Olympics in Sydney Australia. What if he had given up and stopped swimming? No great victory is achieved after giving up - and the same goes with sales. The average sales rep makes 1.5 phone calls before giving up. Most sales reps get nervous because they don’t want to bother people. But our data shows that busy decision makers expect to be contacted a lot because they are busy and difficult to get a hold of. As a sales rep, you want to make six phone calls per lead over the length of your cadence. This can increase your contact rates by as much as 70 percent. Learn from Michael, don’t give up, even if you think you want to or you think the prospect wants you to.

Timing is Gold: A big part of Olympic athletes’ success comes from timing -- knowing how long you need to warm up before a race, when you need to re-fuel and how much sleep you need to perform at your best. Similarly, sales success has a lot to do with timing as well. Believe it or not, the best day to contact someone is Wednesday and Thursday. There is a 49.7 percent difference in contact rates between Thursday and the worst day, Tuesday. Why is this? Busy decision makers say Monday and Tuesday are spent digging themselves out of the weekend traffic and Friday they try to get out of work early. So, Wednesday and Thursday are the only days they have their head above water. But, these are just opinions, the truth is we don’t know why it’s Wednesday and Thursday. All we know is that 100,000 phone calls tell us those are the best days. In the Olympics, races are lost by seconds. Timing matters. Sales is no different. The companies that use the data to gain a competitive advantage are the companies that win. 

Training Techniques and Tech Tools: Professional athletes are always trying new technologies to help improve their performance -- from copper-infused braces and kinesio tape to the latest craze of cupping. Businesses should do the same with sales. The average company spends $2,280 per rep per year on sales acceleration technology. This spend produces a strong ROI. Research shows top spending companies had bigger deals, faster sales cycles, and higher close rates vs that of average spending companies. As an athlete, you can’t reach your potential without tools and technology. In sales, don’t be afraid to invest in the right areas. The results will follow. 

Thrive off Competitive Drive: The Olympic Games are a perfect representation of the type of success we can achieve through drive and motivation. And what better motivates an individual than competition?  In Rio, there were 306 events across 42 sports. These events had rules, scores, athletes, all key components of successful competitions. Unfortunately, businesses have not picked up on this trend. In Gallup’s latest poll on employee engagement, 50.8 percent of employees are “not engaged.” Businesses leaders have forgotten what drives engagement and what motives sales teams. The key lies in the ‘games’ aspect of the Olympics Games. Competition, rules and scores are key ingredients to successful gamification programs. These initiatives tap into the naturally competitive spirit of sales team, heighten engagement and drive motion. In the Olympics, not everybody gets a medal, but the events exist and athletes spend years preparing for them. In sales, create events – games, challenges, and badges. Discover who your gold-medal winners are and you’ll find your culture transformed.

Just as competition, determination and motivation turn athletes into gold medalists, applied correctly, these same principles will undoubtedly turn sales teams into champions as well. 

About the Author

Gabe Larsen has over 15 years of experience in driving business revenue for companies of all sizes. As Director of’s Labs, Gabe has helped over 200 clients solve the biggest problems in the Sales Acceleration space.

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