I was watching NFL (American) football this weekend, and out of nowhere, a sales related observation jumped out at me.

A lot of what I was seeing was not new, but it was executed very, very well.

I played receiver back in the “glory days”, and I remember running patterns like the five-step out, flag pattern, post pattern and the dreaded button hook.

As I watched the games this weekend, I realized that in many cases, decades later, receivers in the NFL run a lot of the same patterns.

There are huge differences of course. The defenders are bigger and faster and closer, the hits are harder, and the sheer athleticism required to play at that level is beautiful to watch, but impossible for a desk jockey like me to comprehend – in spite of my sporadic trips to the gym….

…..but I digress.

The point is this. In many ways, there is nothing new about what these guys are doing. They are running the same basic patterns that we ran in high school. They just execute them really, really well – which is why they are at the top of the game.

So how can we apply this to sales?

From clients and interested friends, I often hear the question “so what is new in sales”? A lot of sales books and consultants seem to feed off of this distorted question.

For example, the idea of “the buyer cycle” is quite popular now. But understanding the buyers process was a part of a proper needs analysis for as long as I remember. The name is new, and the excitement is high, but the idea is a basic staple of professional selling, and has been for a long time.

The point is that sales is mostly about pretty basic stuff.

  • Get yourself in front of a prospect
  • Establish credibility (yours and theirs)
  • Understand what they need
  • Suggest something
  • Move the whole process towards agreement or action

I’m not saying it is easy, and this is certainly an over simplification of a complex process, but the basic elements are pretty straight forward.

Those who succeed in sales – like those who succeed in the NFL – are those who understand the fundamentals and execute them well. They show up and do their work every day, apply discipline, learn from their mistakes and work to get better.

In other words, the button hook still works, as does the post pattern. Great to watch too.

In my sales consulting practice, I don’t focus on what is new, but rather what works. We start with a basic process framework as articulated in my books and training programs, and personalize it from there to make sure that it works for the salesperson, the industry, the company, the country, the culture, etc.

The work is often neither sexy or new, but it is very effective. At the core, sales is not complex, but it isn’t easy either. If you really want to get better at sales and selling, stop distracting yourself with what is new, and focus on the fundamentals. Once you understand those, then you can decide if some new thing fits, if it is just an old thing in a new suit, or if you just need to show up and do your work in order to succeed.

 

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David