Since 2009, the Indian Premier League – a Twenty20 cricket tournament – has turned the sporting world on its head. Over the years, it has influenced how players approached every match on the field. Off the field, it has transformed the way audiences engage with cricket. Last year, over 202 million viewers visited a single video streaming platform to watch the tournament. This year, the numbers are staggering too.
Beyond the unbelievable stats and edge-of-the-seat iconic moments, the IPL has also been a treasure cove of information for sales professionals. When it comes to maximizing value in the digital age, very few brands do it better than the IPL.
The Indian Premier League has always been a traditional test of cricketing skill. However, its popularity was based on how well-prepared it was for audiences of the future. Not only did it quicken the pace at which the game is played, but it brought more glitz and glamour than ever before. The primary focus of the IPL has always been rooted in rapidly capitalizing on audience behavior and technology advancements. That’s why it has been so successful in acquiring new customers.
Isn’t that similar to what’s happening in your sales engagement cycle?
Sales mindsets are evolving, along with the expectations of modern customers. From chasing prospects to driving interactions and using analytics, the sales journey is going through a transformative phase. What were once considered as luxuries for sales agents have now become essential tools of the trade. These factors are reimagining how a sale is made.
The time is now to adapt to these changing times. Considering the IPL season has kicked off in grand style all over the country, let us look at 4 sales lessons you can learn from the most popular cricket league in the world.
Timing is everything
The success of IPL comes down to great timing. Whether the telecast timing, the match duration or obscure player call-ups, there’s a timely reason behind every move.
Great sales agents rely on timing too. It’s often an overlooked facet of their learning curve.
A recent study has shown that “The chances of reaching a lead are 100 times higher if you call within the first 5 minutes”. While being proactive is mandatory, at times it’s about playing the waiting game. For instance, engaging a prospect after you have won a client, or an industry award can yield high returns. There’s urgency in every part of the sales life-cycle.
You need to respond, not just react, when you are required to step up.
Social listening is the new talking
IPL has 6.78 million Twitter followers. Over 20 million are fans of the Facebook page. During season time, it is a multi-trending topic (hashtag) across all social platforms. Some may say it is the first sporting league in India to successfully use social media to sell its brand.
IPL is no longer just a pioneer of a unique cricketing format. It has become a part of pop culture.
Generating new leads is a top priority for sales agents because it keeps the funnel flowing. In 2019, social selling is step 1 in the buyer’s purchasing journey. A procurement study by Accenture has shown that “94% of B2B buyers conduct some degree of research online before making a business purchase”. A recent LinkedIn article even states that “78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media”.
Using social platforms to listen to your customers is critical because that’s where the conversations happen. You have to make sure they don’t start the conversation without you. You must understand their pain points and accelerate your capacity as their solution-givers.
Know your customers, then understand them
The number of languages spoken across India makes it a tough customer demographic. IPL took up the challenge and customized their commentary to all major markets. In 2018, this caused a major spike in its viewership numbers!
One thing never changed – their focus on providing the highest quality of entertainment.
In the sales world, learning new languages may not be an immediate priority. However, understanding how cultural backgrounds can impact conversations is critical. It is a part of the 360-degree view of the modern customer. Today, sales agents must have access to their cultural details, as well. It helps them to better understand when customers prefer to be contacted, the important days to communicate celebratory wishes and even the type of meeting environments they prefer!
Diversity is not just a phenomenon in India. It’s happening worldwide. As a sales agent – you must be equipped for it.
Embrace the sales influencer in you
Influencer marketing is more than just hype in the IPL. It’s a loud buzz heard around the world. From the time the season begins until it ends, many influencers outside the sporting world become its brand ambassadors. Even during the off-season, the IPL brand keeps buzzing. From retail behemoths sponsoring the different teams to celebrities acting as its brand entourages, the role of influencer marketing is perpetually in motion. Last year, a brand report suggested that “62% of marketers are planning to increase their budgetary allocation towards engaging social influencers”.
As a sales agent thriving in the digital marketplace, you are an influencer of perceptions. Your company’s brand value may be a differentiator, but your own social profile can improve the rate of sales conversions. Therefore, you must get social with your personal brand. You don’t have to write white papers or host webinars every week. While those will certainly help, your first step is to put yourself in a position for your reputation to precede you.
It is indisputable that the Indian Premier League has successfully built a large and diverse fan base. The purchasing journeys of its customers may vary from those of your customers, but it is important to note that they are all using the same devices to get rich content. More decisively, everyone is searching for memorable experiences.