Lessons from Formula 1: How to create an unstoppable sales and marketing team

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
22nd September 2020
Author: Sarah L. Parker
Posted in: Sales, Strategy & planning

Sarah L. Parker, a startup and business growth specialist, shares key lessons from Formula 1 on communication and teamwork that should underpin your sales enablement strategy.

Three world-class teams. 146 consecutive wins.  Any die-hard Formula 1 fan could tell you that the Italian Grand Prix was a foregone conclusion.

But then it wasn’t . . .

Lewis Hamilton failed to see that the pit lane was closed by race control when he went speeding down it. Gasly was already having a tremendous race and this was the moment that turned the odds in his favor—he wasn’t going to miss his chance.

Something went really wrong when Lewis Hamilton took that false turn.  Why didn’t his team warn him in advance?  Hadn’t they read the pre-race rules?  Mercedes didn’t communicate effectively and it lost him the race.

There are some lessons in there for marketing and sales teams. Let’s see how good communication and teamwork can drive sales enablement and keep you ahead of the pack.

Control the race from the front

Great collaboration prevents clumsy mistakes.  50% of sales’ time is wasted on unproductive prospecting.  Your sales team no longer controls the message.  It’s your customers who set the tempo now.

You can get your sales team to control the race from the front by mapping your customers like a pre-race circuit.  Personas are the key to that.  Here’s how to use personas to turn the field upside down and create exciting content:

  • Get your sales team to fight for the podium

Andy Hoar, a Forrester Analyst says “We’ve trained sales reps to be product-focused, and that needs to change to a buyer-focused, empathetic, consultative approach.”  You need sales to shift their focus to their clients and to share that knowledge for the race plan.

  • Put your customers in pole position

Discover their digital hangouts, what they do, why they do it, and what their problems are.  Make sure that you don’t retrofit your personas to what you’re selling, fiction will only get you a red flag.

  • Speak to your customers to avoid hitting traffic

Get out and about, interview your audience first-hand and let them tell you who they are and what they want.  You might be surprised by what you learn.

  • Share your personas to secure a record win

Sales are your audience too now, so find ways to engage them.  Hubspot has a fun, easy to use tool for this, so there’s no excuse to get stuck in the slow lane.

A formula 1 race car speeds past a group of spectators

Be plucky and grab the race-winning position

So you’re ahead.  The other drivers are scrambling, desperately trying to recover from race-defining penalties.  But don’t lose sight of what’s at risk.  47% of B2B buyers look at 3-5 pieces of content before contacting sales.  Yet 60-70% of B2B content created is never used.

You need to stay on course for that breakthrough victory.  It’s not good enough to push content out and expect responses.  You need to engage, inspire, entertain, and educate your customers.  Here’s how to do it:

  • Drive content for each stage of the funnel

Your customers already know what type of content will convince them to move from “just looking” to “interested” to “buyer” and finally to “loyal customer”.   So, in order to get in front of the competition, map your content to your customer’s journey.

  • Make yourself a standout marketer on the grid

Look across at what B2C is doing.  Everyone is going great guns over there with incentives, competitions, and sales promotions.  To be one of the winning teams on the circuit, think outside the box.  Then steer your marketing ideas towards your customers’ pain points.

  • Personalize your communications for great on-track results

You’ve just sent another corporate mass email out and all you’re getting back is radio silenceIf it’s not something that you would ever follow up on, bin it. Simply adding a personalized welcome video can be a game-changer.

  • Stay on your A-game—be flexible and change up your content

Go back and check your key content bounce rates during campaigns.  If everyone’s dropping off your new YouTube video at the same time, cut it to improve engagement.

So you’ve done all that and you’re speeding past the competition. Now, you can capitalize.

A man waves a chequered flag at sunset

It’s time to take the chequered flag

Here are a few ways to lead the pack at lightning speed:

  • Create a culture of sales collaboration to avoid being lapped

Marketing is a mindset, not just a job function.  Bring sales into the conversation and create a culture where you share ideas, say what you need, and work together to solve blockers.

  • Don’t tussle with Sales—share your content

Build content sharing into regular meetings.  Make sure you’re sharing those personas, sales decks, value propositions, and case studies so that sales have their hands on what they need.

  • Use strategic marketing to hold up the pack

All marketers aim to be at the heart of a strategic vision that puts the customer at the center of an organization.  But organizations are complex and political, with stakeholders, functions, and shareholders all potential blockers to strategic change.  Sales enablement is exactly what is needed to avoid lost opportunities.

Get ready for the next qualifying round

This is just the first race! And it’s the start of a remarkable run of success. You can now consistently challenge the competition.

But let’s get you in on a little secret.  Marketing never stands still.  Here are the conditions that will keep changing:

  • Your buyer personas
  • Your customer value propositions
  • The content your customers will be drawn to

So keep shifting with the circuit’s twists and turns, adapt your sales enablement strategy, and nail those chequered flags.  Every time.

Turtl