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!

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Find Janet on Twitter and LinkedIn

(Photo credit: Nick Chill Photography & renata miyagusku)

Topics: sales process, inside sales management, target marketing

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