“We made the decision early. If we scored, we were going for two — going for the win.” - Coach Leipold
Something amazing and very unexpected happen last week. The Kansas Jayhawks beat The Texas Longhorns at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium. That’s right, we’re not talking about the top-ranked KU Men’s basketball team. No sir, y’all, we’re talking about the 1-8 Kansas Football team! The 31-point underdogs beat the SEC-bound (not bitter) Longhorns, in overtime, on their home turf.
Going into the game, KU hadn’t won a Big 12 road game since 2008. In 2008 George Bush was President, iPads didn’t exist, and Mark Mangino was coaching the Jayhawks. Going into Saturday night’s game KU held the record, a dubious honor, for the most consecutive road losses – 56. YIKES!
So, what does all this football talk this have to do with sales? No, I’m not advocating for reps who have missed quota for 56 straight months to stick it out or not be fired. I want to talk about what happened in OT and how the 1st year coach at KU bet the cattle farm (pun intended) during OT in a game he let get away from him in the final minutes of regulation.
Texas won the overtime coin toss and elected to take the first drive. They scored on their first possession and then decided to kick for the extra point, which was good, and they went up by 7. Next up – KU. The Jayhawks, and their third-string quarterback, also scored on their first possession. But instead of taking the safe bet and going for 1, they elected to go for a 2-point conversion, a HUGE risk for the coach and the team with so much on the line. As QB Jalon Daniels was being pressured by the Longhorn defense he magically managed to find open a walk-on Freshman, Jared Casey, who normally plays defensive, in the endzone for 2 points and the WIN.
For those of you who spend your Saturdays watching college football, I hear you. That’s the percentage play on the road. But consider the 13-years of road losses. That alone would cause any coach to choose safe over sorry.
So, I want you to channel your inner Coach Lance Leipold and start to embrace risk in exchange for reward. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Take a chance on someone with a little less experience – Just as Coach Liepold had to do on Saturday by starting a third string QB, maybe instead of hiring the perfect rep with 5+ years of experience you hire someone with 2-3 years of experience and train them up. With Great Resignation in full swing hiring experienced sales reps is tougher and more expensive than ever, so maybe now’s the time to find a hungry and ambitious diamond in the rough.
- Try a new vertical – So you own the manufacturing market – congratulations. But are there other use cases for your product in other verticals? If the first 3 months of COVID lock-down taught us anything, it’s that survival might just be reliant on the ability to pivot and get out of your bubble.
- Disrupt your industry by putting a new pricing structure in place – Software is the perfect example of comparing yourself to the Jones’ and trying to keep up. Going back a couple decades, software has been sold by seat license. Over time implementation fees got added on and professional service fees. What if you decided to use how your product or service was price as the great differentiator?
- Put a new commission plan in place – 2022 is around the corner and there’s no better time shake things up a little. I used to change the variable comp plan slightly each year for 2 reasons:
- To keeps reps from thinking that how they got paid would never change
- Because the market, industry, and needs of the company are ever changing, so under the guise of “pay for what you want”, you should tie the strategic goals of the company directly to variable compensation.
As you begin to go through strategic planning for 2022 push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and think about ways you can disrupt the status quo and when you have to make the decision to go for the tie or go for the win….. GO FOR 2!