Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to get the absolute best return on your investment in sports

It hit me, and anyone else watching Cleveland at Miami on TNT tonight, that there is a simple three step formula to getting the best return on your endoresement investment.

There is always the verbal power of endorsements. And then there is the action form.

Step 1: sign a big name to be the spokesperson for your product like Dwyane Wade.

Step 2: have said spokesman absolutely posterize Anderson Varejao during a broadcast. Let the YouTube video go viral. What this clip didn't show was their close up of the shoe after he did this.

Step 3: make sure you have a great accountant to count your money

Yep, its that easy. Somehow, Michael keeps finding a way to win.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No - the next best answer to yes

The biggest waste of time in any negotiation is when someone you think is a potential partner turns out to be a "no in waiting". These are the people that keep saying things like, "yeah, that sounds interesting. I'll take a look at that" when what they really mean is, "I'm not interested but I'm afraid that if I say no it will be uncomfortable, you won't like me and it will end our relationship." So, do yourself a favor. Lay it out there from the beginning and put them at ease. Maybe's aren't always genuine and at some point no is the next best answer to yes.

Lay it out
The biggest hurdles to getting a no is your ego (you are convinced you can sell everyone) and the prospect's fear of your response (anger, disappointment, resentment, etc). Your ego is your problem. But you can help the prospect get into their comfort zone.

Assuming that you have qualified the prospect (always the first step), you will get a feel in the first 15 seconds about whether this person is comfortable in their role, especially if they are the decision maker. Uncomfortable people tend to tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. So lay things out early.

Some sales people will disagree with this tactic, but I'm a believer. As soon as I sense the person may be avoiding uncomfortable topics like price, terms, etc. I will generally try to put them at ease - with brutal honesty.

For example, things like sponsorship in Idaho Select Basketball, participating on one of our teams, building our website or producing our jerseys requires a level of honesty and customer service that not everyone can adequately provide. I get this notion in front of the prospect right at the beginning. Because the truth is, if they can't provide what I need (money, quality, honesty, etc.) then we shouldn't be working together.

But I also let them know that if they can't give me what I need or vice versa, they can tell me no without any risk. It won't change the way I think of them (in fact I'll respect them more), it won't affect any future opportunities and I'm not going to suddenly stop liking them. And, as long as they do it professionally, I mean all of these things.

Once we establish these ground rules, meetings generally go better and we can make some progress.

Don't take it personal
In May 2006, I was in Dallas for some NBA sales training and they brought in a guy named Rubenstein. When he was selling, his goal was to get the prospect to say "I'm not interested" as fast as possible. His philosophy on sales was that at some point, the person you are selling will know they aren't going to buy from you. So why continue to try and sell them if they aren't going to buy? If the person wants to buy, continue. If they don't, get it out of them and move on.

The fact is, in efficient sales you will likely hear no way more than you will hear yes. That includes the best salespeople. If you take it personally you will end most sales calls a little more beaten down and will become less and less effective. Never take it personally. Like all the great sharp shooters in the NBA, you have to have a short term memory. Forget your last missed shot and get ready to make the next one.

Lost sales?
I can hear the comments going through some sales people's heads. "If you are letting them say no, you are leaving money on the table." True, you could twist their arms and make them uncomfortable to the point of submission. But the only benefit is in the short term. And if these are the only people that you can sell to, you should consider expanding your reach.

I'm writing this from the perspective of someone that is thinking long term and committed to being a great sales person. Your goal is to make the most money for as long as you can. If you knowingly sell the wrong product to someone in exchange for a quick buck, you will never sell them anything again. They won't trust you, your reputation will follow you and eventually you will burn all your bridges. Better to get a no and move on to the next yes.