As the American Football season winds down, I have once again become inspired to tie the sales blog to some observations from the grid iron playing field.

When I played American football in high school, I was tall, fast and lean, so I played receiver on offense and defensive back on defense. For my international readers, that means that I was one of the guys that ran out to catch the ball, or one of the guys who tries to prevent them from doing so.

As such, I tend to watch those positions with more attention, having had at least a small amount of similar experience myself.

What always strikes me are the patterns that the professional receivers in the NFL run. Most of the time, they are pretty simple, and pretty much the same patterns that we ran in high school.

The difference of course, is execution. How fast they can change direction; how they can fake one way then cut the other with such grace and subtlety along with such immense power; and of course, how they can catch and hang on to some pretty tight, hard passes while the very strong and often very close defensive backs try to tackle them while always clawing at the ball.

All of that stuff is the same stuff we did on the high school team, and in the park playing with friends while we were young.

But the execution is on a completely different level. The professional players in the NFL condition their bodies and minds; learn their plays; and practice their skills hard enough to allow a level of execution that is almost poetic to watch. Even the difference between college and professional is clear. The execution of the professionals is – well – in a league of it’s own.

So what about us sales people? We can learn a lot from this. When my clients ask me “what’s new in sales”, I often think to myself that this is just not the right question. What needs to be done in sales to be successful is mostly strong execution of some relatively basic skills.

Like in pro football, some sales situations may involve “plays” that are quite complicated, and there may be more “formations” to remember – so in many cases there is complexity – but regardless of the complexity of your sales environment, the skills themselves are the core, and work best when refined rather than revised or replaced.

So don’t be so quick to find the next best thing in selling. Remember that while many things change, the core skills needed to move a sales conversation forward are core skills. Keep polishing them like fine antiques before throwing them out for some shiny modern toy that may not last the test of time.

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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