Mike D’Antoni is the head coach of the Houston Rockets and is one of the most influential people in the NBA; his style of fast-paced, pass-intensive basketball that relies heavily on the 3-point shot has become the predominant style in today’s professional basketball game. But what can marketers learn from a basketball coach when it comes to appointment setting? The truth is, the same types of personal strengths that have made Mike D’Antoni successful as a coach can also help you get better at appointment setting.
Here are a few interesting lessons from this article about Mike D’Antoni, and what we can all learn from his approach to coaching and life:
1. Be persistent! Mike D’Antoni has been fired many times, and he and his wife have moved 13 times in 31 years of marriage. The life of a basketball coach is uncertain and full of rejection, but he keeps bouncing back. When you’re doing appointment setting, it’s important to maintain that same sense of calm persistence, and resilience. Not everyone will want what you’re selling, not everyone wants to talk to you, not everyone wants to move on to the next stage of the sales process. But if you can keep calm and keep moving forward and keep doing the work every day, you will get results.
2. Defy conventional wisdom. Today’s NBA looks very different from the style of basketball played 20 years ago, and it owes a lot to Mike D’Antoni and the high-speed offense with lots of three-point shots that he introduced to the league when he was the (now-former) head coach of the Phoenix Suns. People thought D’Antoni was crazy at the time, but the advanced statistical analytics have caught up – as it turns out, the entire NBA was under-valuing the 3-point shot! Teams that shoot more 3-pointers have a higher chance of winning the game than teams that settle for 2-point shots. Mike D’Antoni was an outside-the-box thinker and he has been vindicated – his style of basketball has made the 2018 NBA what it is today. Lessons for the rest of us? Don’t be afraid to think creatively and totally reinvent the way things are done at your organization or in your industry. What’s your industry’s equivalent of the undervalued 3-point shot? How could you change your processes or change your approach to reimagine the best way to find sales leads or do an appointment setting? Bringing some fresh thinking to just one stage of your sales process could unleash huge improvements.
3. Have a good sense of humor, have fun! D’Antoni is known for being (by the standards of professional sports) a pretty humble person and having a great sense of humor; he calls himself “the Forrest Gump of basketball.” Even though D’Antoni’s teams have not won an NBA championship, even though he’s been hired and fired many times, he is comfortable with himself and he loves to laugh. Try not to take yourself too seriously; that will help you manage the ups and downs of appointment setting. We all need to be able to laugh at ourselves sometimes and keep perspective about the bigger picture.
4. Build strong relationships. Basketball is not about X’s and O’s, it’s about teamwork and chemistry and personal relationships. The five players on the court have to be able to trust each other and build off of each other’s ideas. Mike D’Antoni is still in touch with lots of players and former staff who have worked with him over the years and he’s tried not to hold grudges, even against people who treated him unfairly at previous coaching jobs. An appointment setting is also about building relationships and keeping in touch with people for the long-term. Every single person you know in your professional network, and everyone they know could be a potential source of leads. Don’t burn bridges. Don’t be too quick to discard or disregard a business relationship. You never know who might be the next source of big sales results for your company.
Even though he hasn’t (yet) won an NBA championship, Mike D’Antoni is one of the most respected and influential coaches in basketball. He keeps working every day on building relationships and creating a process for bigger success. In a way, that is the ultimate game of appointment setting – it’s not just about the end result of “winning a championship” by closing a big sale, it’s about all the little things along the way: building relationships, building trust, doing the research and legwork to know more about prospective buyers, and everything else that leads up to a sale. Some of the best coaches are process-oriented: they find joy in the work. Hopefully, your appointment setting process can do the same.