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The Similarities of Sales, Sports –Farquharson/Tedesco

June 2012
We admit it. We’re a couple of Boston sports fanatics. Boo. Hiss. Are you done yet? No? Boo some more. Now that we’ve all got that out of our system, let’s turn to this month’s topic: snagging every sales opportunity that comes your way.

Oh, this will be painful for a lot of our friends from New York. Left-handed swatter “Big Papi” (David Ortiz) is an extraordinary hitting machine. Just one problem—he usually pulls the ball. After this pattern became established, what did opposing teams do?

Based on the pitching match-up, some teams would do a radical shift by positioning the shortstop to the right field side of second base and put the second baseman in shallow center field. In short, they positioned themselves where they thought the ball would be hit.

Back to print sales. In a sales capacity, you’re looking to position yourself where more balls are hit. Sometimes you’ll have to adjust your schedule to your clients’. Perhaps you know a prospect who never seems to be available during business hours. Find out when they are available and make yourself available then.

One of your authors once had a client in central Maine, and routinely departed Boston at the insane hour of 3 a.m. to meet him for a 6 a.m. breakfast at a local greasy spoon. Because this client was president of a $100mm+ company, a top five customer and just a great guy to be around, the 2:30 a.m. wake-up call and long drive were well worth it.

Imagine that you’re a competitor looking for this client’s business. First, you’d have to find out this guy’s schedule. Then, you’d have to will yourself to schedule and make it to these early breakfasts. Even if you did all that, you’d just be a copycat. Shifting working hours—before the competitor thought of it—is what sewed up this account.

In the business world, David Ortiz-like shifts can come in many flavors. Here are a few more ideas:

• Attend association meetings where your customers will be at—first as a friend, then as a sales representative with an advantage: trust and familiarity.

• Comb newspapers, trade publications and the Internet for current news about your prospects. Then, go and teach them things about their company they may not even know.
 

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