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What Sports Taught Me About Sales

Growing I always played sports. From tee-ball and Vince Lombardi (a.k.a. Pop Warner) all the way up through college where I played four years of lacrosse. Little did I know at the time, but all the time spent practicing and playing games has helped to prepare myself for a career in sales. The dedication, the camaraderie, the shared vision and goals, are necessary in both sports and sales.

So I wanted to share with where I think I was able to leverage my athletic upbringing into a successful career in sales.

  • You Snooze, You Lose: This was my motto for lacrosse. I never picked up a lacrosse stick until I was a sophomore in high school. I spent countless hours standing behind the brick church across the street playing catch against a wall. My fear was that if I was not working, someone else was. This is the same mentality for sales. If you are not working on a prospect, someone else is. If you’re not practicing your craft to get better, someone else is. Sales is a competition, the best sales person gets promoted, gets more money, gets a raise, so it’s always time to work.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: I could not imagine going into a football game in high school without practicing. Sure, we could draw plays in the dirt, but how long would that really work? Practice makes perfect with sales as well. At one point in my career, I spent an entire week memorizing a presentation so that I could talk to the presentation without it looking rehearsed. Many hours were spent in front of a mirror with a voice recorder in order to effectively practice this presentation. The end result was an increase in sales.
  • There is no “I” in “Team”, but there is a “Me”: My father, who coached me all through youth football, always used the acronym for TEAM; Together Everyone Achieves More. When you are playing in a team sport, this is very true. But there is also a “me” element. If you do not try your best, then the team suffers.  I was once in a position where the bonus structure was based on personal performance, office performance, and the company as a whole. Under this compensation plan, it was imperative for everyone to work as a team as much as possible. Different sales people have different strengths; do not be afraid to call in some help if needed.
  • Underclassman look up to Upperclassman: When I decided to go to college and play lacrosse, it was comforting to know that I had upperclassman to help me in my transition. These guys taught me what to expect when it came to pre-season, practice, and games. I looked up to these guys as they have already been there, knew what to expect, and had the ability to teach me.  I have been on both sides of this interaction in my sales career. There have been times where the senior sales reps have been gracious to lend a hand and have helped ease the transition into a new position. On the other hand, one time I had senior sales reps blow me off, and tell me that I do not have enough industry experience, and that they could not help me. Guess which one lead to a better working relationship? I’m sure it’s not that hard to figure out!

I’m sure that there are more similarities between sports and sales. I just wanted to share a few that I truly believe in.

If you have some other similarities between sports and sales, I invite you to share them.

Why Customer Service is Important for Business Development

Sales is no longer about the transaction, it is about the relationship. Customer Service is no longer about solving problems; it is about enhancing the relationship. A good biz dev person should also have great customer service skills. Customer service can also lead to good business development opportunities.

Photo Cred: jm3

Every day that I am on Twitter or Facebook, I see people either praising or condemning companies for issues that they are having. If a person has a negative experience with a company, they no longer just tell their immediate contacts, they will extend their reach by using social sites. I have done it before, I am sure that you (the reader) may have done this in the past too.

Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, it is important to develop rapport with every person you meet. One bad experience may not lead to a letter written to your superior, but may be posted on Facebook or Twitter. The reach of this message could be worst if others comment or re-tweet the message. The results, even if minor, could have a lasting effect since they are now published on the web.

Some companies have great customer service running through their veins, look at Wegmans as an example. Wegmans culture is focused on the consumer, giving them what they want. I have watched Wegmans use social media to enhance their reach using Twitter. Rachel Barnhart of 13 WHAM just did a great piece on this. The outcome is that Wegmans’ social media team has been able to create negative experiences into positive ones. The result is many people thanking Wegmans for their help, which appeals to other consumers as this level of customer support enhances the “Wegmans experience.”

Even without the social media aspect of customer service, it is imperative to build a relationship with your customers. People buy from people they like, building a relationship with your customers is the best way to retain the business and get them to buy from you again. This does not just extend to sales or biz dev people, but service reps as well. So on your next call or client meeting; make sure to take interest in the buyer, influencer, and gatekeeper. Take notes, take a lot of notes and ask them questions about themselves and their business.

Have you had a bad experience with a company and posted it to your Facebook page or Twitter account? What was the result? I would like to hear your stories

Thank You From The Top Of Rochester!

I was driving home earlier today and I thought it would be great to do a quick video post from Cobbs Hill. The sun was out (actually right in my eyes) and snow was on the ground. I wanted to thank you all for reading my blog.