Strategic Selling: Comparisons to a Basketball Triangle Offense

April 6th, 2009 by

By Pat Hinds

I just finished reading the book, Sacred Hoops, by Phil Jackson; the book is a good read for basketball fans, sales managers and salespeople.  Phil talks about the journey of achieving basketball glory and his key learnings along the way.  He is a smart man who has a very interesting outlook on leadership, teamwork and life.  One of the big decisions Phil made when he took over as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls was to implement the Triangle Offence, which he referred to as the “five-man tai chi.”

The offence was invented by Tex Winter and is based on seven principles; in this blog, I am going to apply strategic selling techniques to the seven principles.  The information I am providing on the basketball offense is high level; you may have to read the book if you want more detailed information on the triangle offense.

1.      The offense must penetrate the defense – When selling to a strategic account the goal is to improve account market share.  In many cases your competition has the market share you are pursuing.  The strategic marketing and sales plan must be designed to penetrate the existing incumbent market share.


2.      The offense must be involved in the full court game – Strategic account selling is built around the understanding of an account’s total market opportunity; the strategic account plan must include goals and tactics for all products and services.


3.      The offense must provide proper spacing – When selling to strategic accounts with the objective of increasing market share, companies need to have relationships across multiple business units within that account. 


4.      The offense must ensure player and ball movement with a purpose – The “player” is the account manager and the “ball movement” is the tactics an account manager uses to move the account relationship forward.  The sales tactics must have purpose and be measurable.


5.      The offense must provide strong rebounding position and good defensive balance on the ball – As a strategic account manager you are not going to win every sales opportunity (missed shot), but if you are committed to strategic account selling you need to be able to recover quickly from a missed opportunity (rebound) and put yourself in a position to win additional business in the account.


6.      The offense must give the player with the ball an opportunity to pass the ball to any of his teammates – Many times, contacts within a strategic account will be gate keepers to other opportunities; you must establish a “referral relationship” to ensure maximum market penetration.

7.      The offense must utilize a player’s individual skills – Each opportunity within an account must bring value to the relationship and the value needs to contribute to improving the overall relationship in the account.

Good shooting!

Topics: Sales Consulting