Pre-game To Improve Sales Performance

Charles Brennan

So often in sports we learn about how one team prepares for the other. They watch the films and listen to the interviews that are conducted by the media to see if they can pick up a couple of clues or tendencies that will lead to a victory. In some cases, teams have been accused of filming their opponents practice to see if they can achieve a competitive edge (including the New England Patriots, who are competing in this weekend’s Super Bowl).

Most individuals have tendencies, they are predictable. People are comfortable with what they know and tend to follow a pattern. In selling, the goal of a top level performer is to uncover these patterns and use them to their advantage.

I have written and talked extensively about the concept of Game Theory. Loosely defined Game Theory combines probability and outcomes to enable the user to choose the best or most likely path for success. In selling, I would like to encourage the same with a little time spent in “pre-gaming” for the sales call

Good chance if you are a sports fan, you have arrived early to the ballpark or venue to enjoy a beverage or something hot off the grill. You purposefully got to the game way before it started so you can enjoy the “pre-game” festivities. So why not do the same thing in selling to increase your performance?

The Weekend Ritual

Sales reps should make preparation a ritual over the weekend to ensure the upcoming week becomes that much better. With a little due diligence and preparation a rep can increase performance (is that a Captain Obvious statement). As a matter of fact, over time if your reps practice what I am about to suggest, they can predict within an 80-percent accuracy rate how their sales calls, conversations, meeting and interactions will begin and end. Some say, the most important part of any interaction is the beginning and the end. Just think if your reps could project with an 80-percent accuracy rate how great that would be, how much better their performance could be.

Starting over the weekend, reps should think about the conversations they will conduct in the upcoming week. How will they start? What will be said after the pleasantries?

My guess is that they will be able to predict how most of their calls will start. If you can predict how the call will start, that is equivalent to a sprinter getting out of the starting blocks clean. Knowing how conversations will start provides an empowerment that will exude confidence and presence. It enables reps to take control of conversations and separate themselves from the rest.

But the pre-gaming doesn’t end there. Once a rep determines the conversation and or presentation that will be delivered, it is incumbent upon them to anticipate what type of a response they will receive? Will it be receptive or unreceptive? Either way, they need to know how to keep the conversation going. Last, but certainly not least, how will the meeting end. It is with high probability the customer will make one of four comments at the end of the call. Ironically, three out of the four comments will indicate an interest, but postpone any type of action.

Roughly 75 percent of sales conversations end with the customer “futuring” the sales rep. Futuring is when the customer (prospective or current) indicates interest but lack a substantial level of commitment or action to move the relationship forward.

Entering the Playing Field

Reps can be just like an athlete walking on the field for the game filled with high hopes and expectations. But they are prepared for the battle. They know what their opponent will do. If they can execute, they will be one step ahead.

If you prepare like the athlete for the big game, you can stay one step ahead of your customer. If you know what they will say at the beginning and the end, you can prepare yourself for a better outcome.

If you take the time to recognize that your customers are not original thinkers, you can be way ahead of the game. What do I mean by an original thinker? Because your customers are too busy just trying to get through their day, they don’t place full attention to the reason why you are there. Because of this, the customer makes very predictable and neutral comments. These comments are easily recognizable and expected. Knowing this will occur; you can take control and alter the beginning and end of most conversations to your advantage!

Charles Brennan is founder of the Brennan Sales Institute, a leading provider of advanced sales training programs. To learn more about BSI’s live and Web-based programs on: advanced questioning, listening and closing skills contact the Brennan Sales institute at 610-449-6110 or visit them online.