The Sales Athlete: Do You Warm Up or Play Cold?
September 20, 2012 Leave a comment
Have you ever considered how a professional athlete may perform in a game if they never practiced first? For the golfer, this may look like no time spent at the driving range before tournaments….or no batting practice between games for the baseball player…No free throws for the basketball player…No blocking and tackling for the Football player, etc.
Sure, their natural talent may certainly kick in and mask a bad performance during the game, but would a truly great performance be a realistic expectation of the professional athlete without first practicing?
We are all likely to agree that it is not realistic. More likely, the initial inning, quarter or period played is likely to produce mediocre results, with performance increasing as they get warmed up in real-time.
See where I am headed with this? Consider how often the sales professional jumps into the game with no warm ups. For many sales professionals, they may inaccurately chalk the first few losses on sales calls or appointments as the customer being a poor fit or uninterested. What if in truth, it had everything to do with the rep jumping in cold to a situation in which the customer would later respond better to a ‘warmed up’ competitor?
In doing analysis on contact rates some time ago on each of my outbound sales teams, I noticed that our best contact rates were generally in the morning, though the conversion rates were lower. In digging further, I saw that typically, these peak contact rates for our markets, were within 30-45 minutes of the rep’s shift beginning. The inference was that during peak opportunities with prospects, we were using the calls for what I call ‘game-time warm ups.’
As a result, we began incorporating warm up routines that we call ‘batting practice’ into weekly sales meetings and daily sales rep’s routines to improve our batting average. While we vary the activity to adjust to where we are needing the most practice, here are a couple quick and easy examples to follow to incorporate into your own batting practice.
Call yourself – Leave yourself a voice mail message with your most compelling point to provide value or a teaching point. Perhaps just a 30 second message that demonstrates credibility or adds value with reason to call back. See how you sound to yourself and determine if you would call yourself back. If not, refine and repeat.
Pair share – This is a quick exercise to do with a peer in which you practice a specific skill, question or comment in areas you are likely to find yourself dealing with. Over time, you will find that the paired reps begin to give more open and honest feedback on what statements ‘compelled’ and what ‘repelled.’ After all, they want the same type of feedback for themselves.
Spontaneous Reframes – At the leader level, we work on spontaneously coming up with a unique point of view and reframe on common, everyday objects or situations. The goal of these exercises is to quickly identify what we want to teach, then do a warmer statement to establish credibility in the topic and end with a reframed way of thinking about the object or situation. At the leader level, we call this ‘Iron sharpening iron.’
Those are a few ideas from what we are doing. How about you? Do you use unique exercises to warm up your sales leaders and reps?