Monday Morning Quarterback: Sales Call Penalties

Yellow penalty flag on a white backgroundFootball is back. I know because I practically developed bedsores from watching games this weekend. We follow college and pro so that makes for a long weekend around here. We like football like Jon Gruden likes quarterbacks and snarl-smiling.

It occurred to me, however, that football players have it easy. Sure, there are the painful injuries and constant pressure to cause injuries to others. And don’t even get me started on the importance of nailing the celebratory trademark pantomime, for the pros anyway. Football players do have it easy though because they have a team of officials there to let them know when they have done something against the rules.

Consider your last sales call. When you made an egregious error, did anyone blow a whistle? Throw a flag? Discuss it with five other people in detail? Unless your manager was there for a ride-along then probably not…but that doesn’t mean you didn’t make an error and that it didn’t have consequences.

If you read my posts, then you know that my game strategy is all about filling in the blanks for salespeople and managers. To that end, here is a list of proposed penalties for sales calls.

Facemask.

Phony almost never sells a widget—unless it’s a con. Chances are, you aren’t a con artist, so be the best version of yourself you can be. That’s when you are going to succeed in building relationships with your customers. Wearing a mask of what you think your client wants you to be almost never works in your favor in the long run. Save the mask for performance art performances by your neighbor’s kid or family parties with your in-laws. Give your clients the good stuff and you’ll be the MVP, most valuable partner.

False start.

Listen, hustle is a great thing. All the captains of industry have it. But hustling right into your pitch at a sales call is obnoxious. Be sure to start your business by asking questions, both open and closed types, to get a feel for the room first. If you sense that your client or prospect would rather get down to business, then by all means, have a natural conversation that gets them to say, “So why don’t you tell me why you are here today?” Most clients know how to do this if they are busy and don’t want the full chitchat session; let them carry the ball here. Besides, you may learn things in your opening questions that require an audible at the line of scrimmage. Don’t miss out on these important clues because you were talking when you should have been listening.

Delay of Game.

Don’t you hate when people are late? So do your clients. Plan your day with extra time built in so you are never the one holding up the meeting. Being prompt and getting the sale go together like Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.

Illegal touching.

You need to connect with your prospects and clients and build a relationship of trust that can foster opportunities for growth. How you connect touch-wise, however, needs to be businesslike. Stray too far from businesslike touching and you might end up in court, or at the very least off the account. Personal touching allowed in a sales call should be a short list; handshake, occasional touch on the arm, and if you have a good relationship established, maybe a hug. If you do go for the hug however, make sure that you do the torso-separated kind with your hands in safe territory of the upper back. Anything lower is, well, illegal.

If you are in a particularly glamorous industry or Italy, you might need to do cheek or air kisses. I have never been able to pull this off without looking like a dork, so I avoid the cheek or air kiss at all costs. If you are taking on the challenge of a cheek kiss, be sure that it is dry. No one likes a slobber spot on his or her cheek to start off a meeting.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

Calm, cool, and collected. No matter what is coming at you from the other side of the desk, counter, or headset, your job is to keep it from escalating. Those listening skills I mentioned before are critical. You should be all ears for this verbal exchange because you will likely find out how you can make your client happy, which is your ultimate goal here. Customers, clients, or prospects have needs and wants, even when they are spittin’ mad. So learn what those are and be polite, even if they aren’t. If you lose your cool, you lose the account. Game over.

If a football player so much as puts a toe out of line (literally) there are whistles, flags, and men in black and white running from the four corners of the field, who define the problem and assign the penalty. Players benefit from this even though they don’t always appreciate it because then they know not to do it again, at least not when the officials are looking.

Football players, in this respect, have it easier than you and I. We mostly never know the real reason that a client or prospect penalizes us with their BFN (big fat no).

Wouldn’t it be great if you had someone there to officiate your sales calls? Just imagine how your client or prospect would jump when the ref blew that whistle in the conference room. Talk about being memorable!

But since we live here in the real world where football players have all the lucky breaks, including their including their tibiae and patellae, you are going to have to be your own ref.

I think you are up to this task. After all, you’re a man; you’re 40 (or you’re a woman, which makes you 29)! So go out there and show them that you are the champion and keep on fighting ‘til the end. Hustle, hit and never quit because pain is temporary; pride is forever. Show them why you do what you do, what you are made of, and how you are going to go the whole 9 yards for them, every time. Whatever you do, play hard all 60 minutes and leave it all on the field.

Are you ready for some sales calls?

What penalties have you seen in sales calls? You make the call in comments below.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at http://www.terrilively.com.

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One thought on “Monday Morning Quarterback: Sales Call Penalties

  1. Fortunately I don’t make sales calls–my family would starve if they relied on my abilitity to sell anything! I think this is great advice that can apply to other social or professional situations, particularly the illegal touching. I’m not a touchy person (surely I’m not the only one like this!) so I prefer as little physical contact as possible with anyone other than my immediate family.

    Liked by 1 person

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