A Time to Think and a Time to Hit
“How can a guy think and hit at the same time?” comes from American baseball legend Yogi Berra. He explained what he meant by this in a 1998 Q&A session: “You do your thinking before you get up to bat. We used to spend a lot of time before the games talking about certain pitchers, what they threw, and what was the best way to hit them in certain situations. We did a lot or talking and a lot of thinking about hitting. We just didn’t stand there thinking when we were up to bat.”
What’s that got to do with selling?
Too many times when I’m working with sales people in training or coaching situations they try to “think and hit at the same time”. In other words, they don’t prepare before making the phone call or going into a F2F meeting. They don’t role play or practice the opening line, their point of difference, the questions they’ll ask, the objections that might arise; they are basically saying I’m so skilled I’ll wing it!
5 x PPPPP
Prior preparation prevents poor performance! These five steps allow you to build up your sales “muscle memory” so you can focus on your hitting strategy.
- Have a script (yep you hate that word); okay a roadmap of how you’ll start the phone call, introduce yourself, explain the why to overcome pushback. Test it, practice it.
- Put together a list of questions you’ll ask depending on the selling situation (appointment setting, qualifying or needs uncovery). Role play them.
- How about questions or objections from the prospect? Create another list of what might arise. Brainstorm to find the ones you’ve missed, then test them
- Rehearse your proposal / PowerPoint presentation if that’s the type of call you’re undertaking. Is it all about them? Is it all about you? Does it deal with their needs?
- Have a clear and simple VBR to use in all situations. Trial it, rewrite it, practice it.
Just like athletes, doctors, actors and many other professionals, daily skills practice is a core component of an effective sales and selling strategy. Unfortunately in my experience very few are prepared to do it.
Objective Management Group assessed more than one million salespeople and according to their data 74% of all salespeople are completely ineffective and many of them shouldn’t even be in sales. I wonder how much of this is caused by lack of training, coaching and preparing to hit the ball?
Until next week good selling!
About the author
Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.
He can be contacted at email@example.com