To Sell More, Do NOT Give Up the Ball!

This guy REFUSED to give up the ball.

This guy REFUSED to give up the ball.

Fall is here and football season is in full swing.  Tailgate fiends are rejoicing all over the nation.  For the next few months, you likely won’t be able to go to lunch with coworkers without the conversation veering into fantasy football leagues for some period of time.

After living in Houston for 18 months, I came to appreciate the excitement of the game.

If you ever find yourself living in Houston you will be able to attest that football in general, and college football specifically, is an outright obsession.

The rabid intensity my friends displayed was infectious and I found myself caring about which college team was ranked #1 and actually paid semi serious attention to both a collegiate and professional sport for the first time in my life.

Turns out it was a good thing too, because like most things, I found there are similarities to be found with sales.

Did you know that in the course of a football game the offense scores way more than the defense!?  Humor me.  I know its a silly sounding question -.-

…but did you know HOW MUCH MORE the offense scores?

For the entire 2013 NFL regular season, the total defensive scoring (interceptions returned for a touchdown and forced safeties) for the ENTIRE LEAGUE was about 530 points.

The league’s total offensive scoring?  11,050

11,050 offensive to 530 defensive.    We’re talking about a 21x greater rate of scoring effectiveness.

Ok, so this is pretty common sense right?   Why should you find this so fascinating?

To understand how this is such a powerful lesson about sales you need to ask yourself one question:

What is THE major reason why the offense scored so many more points than the defense?

Answer:  They have the ball.

So the sales question you need to ask yourself is: how often do you cede control of “the ball” to your prospect?

“The ball” in sales is the agenda.  It is the process.  It is the steps you need to take to get to a desired outcome.

If your desired outcome is a sale, how many times have you offered up a proposal WITHOUT gaining a commitment about what would happen with said proposal?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a prospect tell a salesperson any number of variations of the following:

“Just email the proposal to me and I’ll look over it when I have a chance.”

“Just leave the sample.  I’ll take a look at it.  I don’t need you to do a demo.”

“You don’t have to come by and show me anything new.  You can just email me anything you would have brought.”

If you agree to any of these things…you just handed over the ball.

You allowed your fate to be determined by their actions…not yours.

The problem with doing this in the game of sales is that the prospect is under NO obligation to give the ball back to you…ever.

The good news?  You have a choice!  You start with the ball.  You never have to give it up.

All of your sales power comes in procuring a commitment from the prospect about what will occur after the current step so that you can get to the following step BEFORE you commit to taking THIS current step.  You may need to read that a couple times.  It makes sense I promise.

If you make an offer or take a step with no “next step” agreement beforehand…you’re handing over the ball, and you deserve to lose.

If I am going to take an hour to put together a proposal…I am going to request, and you are going to have agreed beforehand to sit with me to review it…or I DON’T PUT TOGETHER THE PROPOSAL!

If I am going to bring you a sample, I am going to request, and you are going to have agreed beforehand to let me show you how to use the product…or I DON’T BRING THE SAMPLE!

If you want me to let you dictate how my selling process works, thereby rendering me ineffective and relegating me to nothing more than a price…I AM NOT GOING TO CALL ON YOU!

Are you understanding how this works?

It is UP TO YOU to control your sales life, or other people will control it for you.

Thousands(millions?) of salespeople are making useless commitments and getting nothing in return.  They are working tens of thousands of hours on things that are going to have ZERO result…and it’s all a matter of failing to qualify and gain a next step commitment.

Then terrible salespeople complain that sales is “really hard” when the truth is they’re just “really ineffective.”

Well then you might say…if you get an agreement, and you give them a proposal…aren’t you still waiting to hear back?  How have you not still given up the ball?

The answer is: if you had the next step commitment agreed to beforehand…you still have the ball.

The proposal is no longer the ball.

The before hand agreement about the following step is the new ball.

The best salespeople in the world aren’t focused on the task at hand.  They are selling two and three steps ahead.  I’d like to get into a chess metaphor but then you’d just think I was being ridiculous.  ;p

So my friends…the next time you find a deal stalling, remember these words:

If you want to sell more, do NOT give up the ball!

Good Selling!



Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.