What the Boston Bruins Reveal about Winning

Did you catch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last night? A truly epic battle between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks. This morning, Marta Kagan’s observations at Inbound Internet Marketing caught my eye and reminded me of the importance of motivation and sales momentum.

“Maybe it’s just me, but I think the #1 reason why the Bruins are kicking Vancouver’s butts all over the ice this week isn’t because they’re pissed (though that doesn’t hurt), it’s because they’re relentless. They’re not dipping their toes into the proverbial water; they’re not taking the safe route; and they’re not letting up even when they’re up by three (or seven!) goals. They’re going balls-out, no-tomorrow, this-is-bleepin’-it, every period and then some—and it shows. Last year, I witnessed the Bruins “trying” to win the Stanley Cup. They’d get a big lead, then ease up on the pressure, leaving the door open for their opponents’ come-back. This year, there’s no easing up. The pressure just keeps coming. This year, the Bruins aren’t trying to win. This year, the Bruins are Gettin’ It Done.”

Here’s how I think hockey is a lot like sales: Recently, one of my clients just closed a very large deal that put them 3 months ahead of their sales goals. Of course there’s great jubilation, as well there should be. But this situation also presents opportunity and risk. The opportunity is that if they can sustain their current level of performance and keep their momentum, they could finish more than 25% above their annual goal. The risk is that they ease up now and lose their momentum. Losing momentum would not only wipe out the lead they have just gained but could also result in missing their goal by the end of the year. We see it all the time in sports. A team doesn’t just lose their lead, they lose the game. When momentum gets lost, teams lose. When they keep pressing, they win – and often win big.

There are three important things that a company needs to do in times like this to keep their momentum. One is to celebrate. Big significant wins build confidence in everyone in an organization. They build optimism about attaining financial objectives and they increase belief in the product, service, and mission of the organization. Second is to focus on the next big wins while confidence and excitement is high and, at the same time, ensure that your defined sales processes kick right back into gear. This should happen immediately after the celebration. Third is to appropriately incent the performance organization. It will be important that you have designed your incentive plan to pay dividends for exceeding goals. It must be both lucrative and realistic to be a motivator. With these three things in place, you will be positioned to not only keep from losing momentum but potentially increasing it.


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