In football, it tells the story and all of the secrets are stored in it.
In sports media sales there are no secrets, but there is very much a playbook. If followed, this playbook nearly guarantees success, so it is often surprising to me how few people are willing to follow it completely.
I often equate this to being hired at McDonald’s to be a cook. You can’t take the job and say that you will cook the burgers and the fries but that you won’t make the Filet-O-Fish. It doesn’t work that way. If they hire you to cook, the expectation is that you will cook everything on the menu. If you refuse, they let you go and bring in someone else who will see things their way.
Unlike NFL playbooks, the sports media sales playbook only consists of six plays:
Play 1: Prospecting
Much like the preseason in football, this is where you prep for the season. My simple rule about prospecting is that you should always be doing it. Everywhere you look and everywhere you go there is prospecting that can be done. A sales consultant once said to me about prospecting for sports radio: “If you put an armed guard out in front of a business and refuse to let in any 25 to 54-year-old men, if that business would shut down, they are a great prospect.” Digital prospecting is actually the easiest to do – search any category and call everyone on page two and higher.
Play 2: Contacting
For most, their least favorite part of the job. Yep, you do have to pick up the phone and cold call, find a way through the gatekeeper to get to the decision maker and then give a compelling reason why he or she should meet with you. Much like two-a-day football practices in the summer, this is typically where the “men separate from the boys.” It’s also the step I see more and more people be afraid of and try to skip, which can only lead to bad things.
Play 3: The Needs Analysis
In football terms, this is the film study. This is where the answers are obtained. The first rule of the needs analysis is that IT IS ABOUT THEM AND NOT YOU! Hopefully I got my point across that you are there to talk about them and their business. Nobody cares that you are #1 in your market with 35 to 64-year-old, left handed women between 4am and 7am. Ask good questions, shut up, listen and take good notes.
Play 4: The Presentation
Call this the first half. The time to implement what you prepared for. This is your chance to establish yourself and your products as the answers to the problems the business is having. You are the quarterback with the ball in your hands during the presentation. You must exude confidence and passion so that those around you feel comfortable and believe in you.
Play 5: The Close
The second half. This is where the games are won and lost. Can you close games like Elway or Brady? A lot of people are good enough to get the ball in to the red zone, but it is an entirely different set of skills required to get the ball in to the end zone. The main thing to remember when trying to close business is to ask for the order. What is it Wayne Gretzky used to say – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you aren’t going to ask and you are just going to dance around the question, you may be in jeopardy of having put in a lot of work for absolutely nothing. Close deals with the exact same confidence you showed during the presentation.
Play 6: Servicing
This is the rest of your season. You did all the preparation needed to present a great deal and you asked for the close and got it. Now, the real work begins. Celebrate the success, but don’t let this be the time you fumble. This is where you continue to execute the game plan and put it all in to motion.
That’s it. Six plays to learn, embrace and perfect. But, unlike in football where you can use just a portion of the plays to bring home a win, you must be willing to run the entire playbook when it comes to sales. Trying to skip steps not only makes it harder, it makes it darn near impossible. Run the full playbook and give yourself the best chance at success. Otherwise, you may really need to figure out how to make that fish sandwich.