Two of my favorite things in life are watching NFL games and helping sales people figure out the game of sales. When you listen to many of the interviews by winning NFL players and coaches you’ll hear tips that can help you be a better salesperson and manager. When you have a chance to listen to others that have been successful, there’s an opportunity to apply what they have done to your profession or life. With that in mind, these are my Top 10 NFL Success Quotes for Selling.
“Take one game at a time. The next game is the most important game.“ The parody in the NFL is unparalleled in sports. If an NFL team doesn’t give the next game their complete focus they can be wiped off the field, even if they were heavily favored. The teams that discipline themselves to focus on the next game seem to find the most success. Every selling situation requires your full attention and preparation. Guard against talking about how great your quarter or year is going to be. Focus on the next selling situation and take nothing for granted.
“Be a little better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you were today.” It’s wise to assume your competition is working on getting better. Don’t count on them sitting back. It’s prudent to keep improving to stay ahead of them. You don’t need to make wholesale changes, just a little improvement everyday. Pick one thing you can work on in your sales profession to improve today, then work on it. Do the same thing tomorrow. Keep getting better.
“We had a great week of practice and we know how we practice is how we play.” This is the weakest area of the sales professional, if not all professionals. We don’t practice. We play the game but rarely or never practice. In football they practice, practice and practice some more. Role-play in your sales meetings with difficult questions. You can practice asking for referrals or creative discovery questions. If you want to improve fast, practice.
“I do my job and trust my teammates to do theirs.” A sale is a win and we really win and lose as a team. Each team member has a role that contributes to the amount of sales that are earned. As a sales person we are often viewed as the quarterback. In our role we tend to receive much more praise and/or criticism for the wins and losses when the reality is we win and lose as a team. Be the best you can be at your role and support others in being their best and sales will grow.
“We’ll need to watch the film to see how we did.” When is the last time you videotaped yourself? People willing to be recorded and that are open to improving are usually surprised at what they see. In the NFL they also say, “the tape doesn’t lie.” So they watch the truth each week. Since each play happens so fast they understand they need to slow things down to see how to improve. As a selling conversation moves along it’s hard to remember everything that transpires and how you communicated. Get the camera out in sales meetings or have a teammate or manager ride along with you and provide feedback.
“We’ll celebrate tonight then put this win behind us.” After you win a deal, ring the bell or go out to dinner, then put it behind you. Yesterdays’ win does not count toward todays score. There’s another sale down the road that requires your attention. The sooner you let the win go the more focused you can be.
“We’ve got to play a complete game at a high level.” The game of selling starts with generating a new opportunity and ends with a buying decision. We don’t have quarters in our game but we have phases or stages. Common stages are lead generation, discovery, solution development, proposals/presentations, negotiating conversations and decision. Are you winning at every stage of selling and playing a complete game? Take a look at each stage to find something you can improve on today.
“We work on our fundamental skills every week.” Fundamentals in football include blocking, tackling, running, throwing and catching. Selling fundamentals include communication (listening and effective message delivery), building rapport, asking questions, problem solving, managing details and adaptability or negotiation. We don’t have an off-season so we need to make time to review how we are doing in these areas, and set out to stay sharp.
“The game is not over till it is over.” This is true if you believe you are the preferred choice or you’re trying to unseat a competitor. Every week in the NFL, teams that looked like they were going to win or lose have the outcome flipped on them. Until you have a sales order in your hand, the selling game is not over. Stay focused and take nothing for granted.
“We trust our coaches and the game plans they put together.” Do you trust your company leadership or are you second-guessing their game plan? If the leadership is really poor you might need to make a change rather than fight the system. If you have good leadership, but tend to always believe your way is best, consider following the game plan set out and see how things go.
Writing this blog has challenged me as a manager to step up my game. I need to bring more practice into my sales meetings, start using video and pay more attention to the details. Selling is a great profession and don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you see it as a profession, take it seriously and keep improving so you can be the successful one that other people are listening to.
Do you focus on improvement? Has anything struck a chord for you like it did me? Leave us a comment.