NFL Lessons for Salespeople

This week’s guest blog is by Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales.

Currently, NFL Football is experiencing a lockout, but for the sake of this post, let us revisit seasons past….

Teams in camp, two a day practices happening, and coaches beginning to train and teach players how to get better. I read a piece by Peter King from SI.com about his conversation with Ellis Hobbs, former cornerback with the New England Patriots. He was talking about how much respect he had for head coach Bill Belichick.

He said, “Early in my career, Bill called me into his office, and we sat there – for a long time – studying film. He taught me to look for the simple things and not to make football so complicated. I got better. I was with one of the best coaches of all time, and he helped me become a better player.”

In sales, too, you can become a better producer if you concentrate on the simple things and doing them better. Here are two things you can do starting today to increase your closing ratio and make more money:

1. Keep a record of the reasons your prospects don’t close and then concentrate on qualifying these on issues up front with future prospects. This was one of the simplest and most effective habits I developed to get better.

I kept a notebook with all my prospects in it and every time they didn’t buy, I’d put in red ink the reason why not. I even boiled it down to three codes: NI, for No Interest; NM for No Money; and NC for Not Controllable. And then throughout the weeks and months I’d go back through my notebook and look for patterns and ask myself, “What do I need to focus on during the qualification stage?”

If too many prospects were not buying because they simply weren’t ready to buy right then “No Interest” needed to be addressed on the front call. I’d start by asking more questions like: “Prospect, if you find that this would work for you, what is your time frame for moving ahead with it?”

And so on. Bottom line – if you don’t get it right on the front end then you’ll never increase your closing ratio.

2. Ask for bigger orders on every close. Oh I know, you’ve heard this before, right? But how often do you actually do it? So many sales reps are afraid to ask for too much and are just happy to get a minimum order. I know because I used to be that way.

But my career turned around when I began asking for big orders on every single call. And what I learned is that you never know how much a person or company can handle. You can always go down (in price, quantity, etc.), but you can never go up.

The truth is, it’s all the same amount of work anyway, so why not ask for 2 times or 3 times the minimum order and see what you get! If only one in ten of your prospects buy the increased amount, how much more money would that mean to you?

The fun part about consistently asking for more is that you’ll end up getting more—and every time you do, you reinforce the habit to do it. And as soon as you get a taste of closing bigger deals, you begin looking for and expecting them. Try it and you’ll see for yourself—it’s one of the simplest things you can do to make a lot more money.

Just remember, as you’re reading this the NFL players and coaches are working on the simple things to improve. You should be doing so, too!