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Sales Lessons from 'Angry Birds'

Posted by Janet Stucchi on Fri, Feb 17, 2012

The Angry Birds phenomenon continues to grow. Not content with being the most downloaded app in 2011, the game is headed to Facebook. For those of you unfamiliar, here's the game's trailer. (In short, Angry Birdsplayers control a flock of birds attempting to rescue eggs that have been stolen by a group of evil pigs.)

Sounds crazy, but I can tell you that - it is addicting! So, how does this relate to Sales?

1. Be prepared – focus on your target

To win in Angry Birds, you can't waste birds by just flinging them out there and hoping to knock something down. Instead, you want to isolate a single part of the structure and strategically fire at it until you destroy it. In Sales, it is equally important to understand the structure or sweet spot you want to “attack”. In other words, knowing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Many times, CEOs & VPs of Sales will tell me, "Our ICP is the Fortune 500." My internal response is to hope they get hit in the head with a flying bird. The F500 is not a sweet spot - it is a huge target that can swallow up your resources without gaining any traction.

Give some thought to the commonality where you've already had sucess. Is there a revenue size or # of employees where your message resonates best? Must other technologies to be in place for you to succeed? What functional areas must you target to launch the sales process?
Before you deploy your team, be sure you have identified your ICP.

2. Launching - hire the right people for the job

Now that you know where to aim, determine the right bird for the job. Since each bird has a different talent, you must deploy the correct one against certain obstacles. For example, launching a big red bird at a straw hut would be overkill; while launching a blue bird at a concrete structure would be like trying to use a feather to knock down a steel-reinforced door.

What skills must your Reps have in order to succeed? Strong time management skills to handle lots of transactions? Great message-tailoring skills to work deals with multiple stakeholders? Great detective skills to profile accounts and find the right contacts?
Hiring and deploying the correct skill set for each role is essential to building a successful team.

3. Prepare your game strategy – pre-call planning

Prior to launching birds, you need a strategy. Smart Reps will research their target organization and contacts in advance to identify areas of weakness or opportunity. Things to know are: external influencers the company is facing – a merger or acquisition, technology changes, etc. Do your Reps and buyers share any LinkedIn connections or social groups? What or who do they have in common to help break the ice?
Pre-call planning gives your Reps a foundation for having great conversations with buyers.

4. Obstacles – use persona-based messaging

At each level, you have a limited number of birds; so a plan is necessary to avoid launching birds willy-nilly. The angle of trajectory is critical. Launching at the wrong angle may result in missing the target altogether.

Since you have limited time to capture your buyer’s attention, their industry and functional role must be taken into consideration before uttering a single word. You don’t want reps talking about features & functionality to a CxO; and lowering cost per lead and increasing market penetration aren’t the right messages for a technical evaluator. Focusing on your buyers’ hot buttons will enable them to hear your message over the squawking of the competition.
Using persona-based messaging will enable Reps to spark interest and engage buyers in meaningful discussions within the first few seconds.

5. Levels increase in difficulty - introduce specialization

As you move through the levels of the game, they increase in difficulty and complexity; requiring specialized talent. The black bird is one of the heaviest birds; creating shockwaves upon explosion and inflicting maximum damage. In extreme circumstances, the eagle - essentially a ‘hired gun’ - will destroy everything in sight.
As the market for your products/services evolves, consider introducing specialized roles to help you gain deeper penetration. Focus heavy hitters where you need them, providing the additional leverage you need to win more games.

Closing thoughts

In Sales (as in Angry Birds), it's critical to use your limited resources wisely. Isolating your target, understanding your strengths, identifying obstacles and fine-tune your trajectory as part of your game-winning strategy.

Challenge your Reps to compare & contrast their Angry Birds strategy to their selling process. They may not have an a-ha moment, but will most certainly be engaged in the conversation! Thanks for listening!

Find Janet on Twitter and LinkedIn

(Photo credit: Nick Chill Photography & renata miyagusku)

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A creative analogy Janet, but what's next, "I've been Angry Birded" to say that you lost the deal...:>) 
Obviously, there are as many ways to build a sales program as there are things that need selling, but this covers the foundation of what is needed to be successful today. If only it was as easy to build that as it is to read it... 
Thanks for both a good post and amusing analogy on a friday!

posted @ Friday, February 17, 2012 9:13 AM by Bob

Great post, if I had a dollar for every level I have had to do many times to figure it out... Bottom-line, hit reset and try again.

posted @ Friday, February 17, 2012 12:56 PM by Michael Critchfield

This was a fun way to look at some important aspects of sales success. I can't help but think there's even more parallels here if we take the time to think about it. For example, if it ain't fun, people probably aren't going to do it for long. Hiring the right people is important, but sales management needs to build in ways for them to succeed and stay motivated, or else they will end up just going through the motions and not really being "into it" like most Angry Birds players I know. 
Well put, 
Don F Perkins

posted @ Saturday, February 18, 2012 10:04 AM by Don F Perkins

Thanks everyone for the comments & the tweets!

posted @ Monday, February 20, 2012 1:23 PM by Janet Stucchi

Great post. I agree about wanting to see unfocused execs get hit in the head with a flying bird! I'll be smiling every time I talk to execs who say the Fortune 500 is their target, which is too often.

posted @ Tuesday, February 21, 2012 6:51 AM by Brian Geery

What t heck; I'll try it.

posted @ Wednesday, February 22, 2012 7:09 AM by Jerry Tedder

Hi Janet, I enjoyed reading your post! Not just becasue I'm an angry bird player myself, but the way you compared the game with how to survive the day to day sales was enjoyable. I agree with you. There has to be a strategy and we should be able to identify our market. We use Audience Builder in our company as a tool that helps us connect with our highly targeted clients with greater precision. It's easier for us to filter and segment customers instantly. Excellent post! 

posted @ Wednesday, February 22, 2012 11:57 AM by Ayeen Benoza

Cool analogy Janet;) Particularly liked point # 3- Prepare the game strategy. Similar with the timeless proverb, " If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." The lack of preparation/planning is definitely the reason why many entrepreneurs fail and eventually get lost in the shuffle. By the way I started following you on Twitter. See you there.

posted @ Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:41 AM by Judy Caroll

Very good, lol

posted @ Tuesday, March 06, 2012 12:23 PM by Greg

Very nice! fekgbegkdf

posted @ Monday, March 31, 2014 7:21 AM by Smithd187

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