When I sat down to write this article, I had just finished watching this year’s Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It turns out that you can learn a great deal about business and life by viewing sports, especially when you’re watching champions. In fact, this game and all its pageantry are ripe with examples of what to do (and what not to do) in your business sales “game.” Let’s dissect three such examples that come to mind…
1. In the end, it’s all about blocking and tackling. Football may seem like a highly complex game with players running about, audible directives to change plays and formations, and coaches whispering secretly into gigantic play cards. However, when it’s all said and done, generally the team that does the best job blocking and tackling wins the game.
Breaking down a football game to its most fundamental basics is as old as sports itself. Think about your own experiences with sports or activities. Whether it was football, baseball, basketball, the piano, the flute or singing, each of these activities has basic tenets from which all else is drawn. In football, when you don’t perform these basic fundamentals well, you lose and look bad doing it. When you play an instrument or sing but fail to do the basics well, you perform poorly and look bad doing it.
So what does this mean to you in terms of sales? Very simply, there are basic tenets of selling, too. Language skills, communication aptitude, organizational prowess, product knowledge, perseverance and motivation are just a few such sales fundamentals. Some of these are attitudes (which can be trained and learned), and most are skills that you must practice. If you go into your field of play without being adequately prepared to “block and tackle,” you will not be successful and you’ll also look bad doing it!
2. “What did you say?” If you were one of the millions who watched the national anthem preceding the Super Bowl, undoubtedly you said just what I did to my wife when listening to Christina Aguilera sing it: “What did she say?” By the time you read this, you probably will have heard numerous times about the flub this popular star made while singing the words to our national anthem. Francis Scott Key is probably turning over in his grave! Yes, the music and melody of our national song can be difficult to sing, but the lyrics are the lyrics. We’ve grown up singing and listening to it countless times. So if you were going to be honored to sing our anthem on arguably the biggest stage on television, wouldn’t you think you would know the words?
For a singer, this is akin to blocking and tackling. Knowing the words to the song you’re singing in front of a gazillion people (give or take a few) is a basic tenet. This calls for preparation.
What’s that mean for you in sales? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Are you prepared for the objection that is bound to come?
- Are you prepared to respond to it?
- Can you answer the product questions on the new line of insurance your company is promoting?
- If your prospect does say “yes,” do you know what to do next?
- Have you practiced your conversations over and over until you can fall out of bed at 2:00 a.m. responding to an objection?
If you can’t, you’re probably as ill prepared as Ms. Aguilera was for her time in the national spotlight. It’s unprofessional not to know your key objections (to be covered in greater depth in an upcoming column) and not be prepared to respond to them effectively.
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