Client_visit-orangeTomorrow, the 147th Belmont Stakes will take place in New York at Belmont Park. This race is the last of the three big American races, prefaced first by the Kentucky Derby, then the Preakness Stakes. Collectively, these races are known as the Triple Crown. To win the Triple Crown, the same horse must win all three races. The last and longest race, the Belmont Stakes, is known as “The Test of the Champion,” as this final race will determine a potential Triple Crown victor. This year American Pharoah is favored to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.  If he wins it will be an incredible team effort. So what does the Belmont Stakes have to do with sales? Maybe not a lot, but maybe more than you think! Just like these horses, sales reps and managers are racing to victory over competitors. To win the Triple Crown, you have to win the three big races. To win the Triple Crown of Sales, there are also three big areas in which you must succeed.

The Kentucky Derby: Great Customer Service

To even consider winning the Triple Crown, you have to win race number one. In sales, that is customer service and building a positive relationship with both existing and prospective clients. If the people who are buying your product don’t have a good experience with it or the brand, they aren’t going to use it again. Poor customer relations is a quick way to forfeit the race. Align your own goals with those of your customers, then make them happen. Respond to their needs and questions effectively and promptly. Check in on them as often as necessary to ensure they’re never out of stock, but don’t be overbearing. Be proactive and log a history of interactions with the client to be able to anticipate what their future needs may be before they ask. With happy customers, you’re on to race number two.

The Preakness Stakes: Location and Reaching your Niche Market

Winning this second race is what makes you and your product a real contender for the Triple Crown title. Now that your clients know your brand and know that you’re reliable, they are willing to start placing bets on you, i.e. they will agree to carry your product and give you preferred placement. This is how you can reach your target market and maximize sales. Remember, you don’t necessarily only want to be stocked in large retailers, but also smaller stores that cater to your specific demographic. For example, if you sell a health food product, it may be more effective to be featured at a smaller health foods vendor that is viewed as a thought leader, instead of larger retailers. Next, now that you are in the retailer, aim to gain a place of prominence. Leverage your positive relationship and past sales performance to secure good shelf space with more facings and in-store displays.  With this, you will get more exposure to customers. You will become a frontrunner, with good odds – a brand people don’t feel they are taking a gamble on after successful showings in the first two races.

The Belmont Stakes: Retention

This is the longest race both for horses and salespeople, but it also decides how successful the venture will ultimately be. Once you have established your product and have consistent customers, you want to keep them for long term benefits. Winning the first two races is nice, but you only get the Triple Crown if you win at all three. Increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25-90 percent, so you have to keep up with what you have been doing and stay competitive, or customers will start betting on the other horses, your competitors. Be aware of changes in your industry, innovate accordingly, and be first to market with the innovation. Remember, it’s a race, being first is important. It’s a challenge of endurance, but if you win this race you win the Triple Crown of Sales!

So, there are more comparisons to made between one of America’s oldest sporting traditions and selling your product than you might think. They are both races that build upon one another to the ultimate goal of success. Run each race to the best of your ability and you just might win the blanket of white carnations, or if that seems grandiose or impractical, perhaps a raise! Tomorrow, American Pharoah could be the first horse to clinch the Triple Crown since 1978, which sales organization will be next up for the Triple Crown of Sales?