Prospecting & Football

by Linda P. Kester Nov/Dec 2013

In both equipment leasing and football, Linda Kester sees similar traits needed to build a winning team. Here she offers five steps to getting your sales squad off of the sidelines and into the game.

1. Have a Game Plan

Does your sales group have a defined process for acquiring and retaining vendors? Or are you still letting your sales athletes run their own playbooks from their past experiences? Coaches have a game plan because they know it’s impossible to coach and manage six different sets of playbooks. Is your sales team working off of your playbook or their own?

Frank has been selling leasing for years. He has a solid book of business but knows that he should be prospecting more. His days consist of getting to the office, returning a few vendor calls, checking on some deals and sitting in on a few meetings. By 11:30 a.m., customers are calling him with issues, and he spends the rest of the day solving problems. Does this sound familiar to you? This is the same challenge that keeps most salespeople and their leasing companies from selling at a higher level. Without a crystal clear and specific sales game plan, your reps are doomed to stagnancy. Here are three key components of a strong sales game plan:

  • Stop Reacting: Like Frank, most salespeople fall into a rut of only reacting to their day. We all know that things happen during the day that need to be solved, but not every single problem has to be solved right away or by you. Moving forward, schedule time in your day to handle emergencies, and only deal with them during that time. Also schedule an unmovable block of time for prospecting activities — and don’t change it! Being proactive is the most important thing you can do today to affect income at the end of the season.
  • Know Your Day-to-Day Activities: Do you know exactly what you would like to earn this year? If so, then you probably know how much you have to book in order to earn that. But that’s just the start. Now, it’s time to calculate how many applications you need to receive each week in order to hit that goal. Once you know the day-to-day activities, the performance of those activities is the most important part of your sales day.
  • Let Nothing Get in Your Way: Once you have your game plan, it’s time for the hard part —actually sticking to the plan. With my clients, I always recommend that they schedule prospecting time into their day. Once the prospecting time is in their calendar, it must be treated like an important appointment.

2. Set Your Objectives

While working with a sales rep, I asked her what her primary objective was for an appointment she had with a vendor later that afternoon. She said she wanted the vendor to commit to using her leasing services exclusively.

While this is a fine goal, it was a poor primary objective. She had yet to receive one application. She set the bar way too high. It’s like she wanted to run a kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.

Do you know how often a kickoff is run back for a touchdown in the NFL? About one half of one percent of the time. Many leasing reps think in global terms. I suggest you think of prospecting like football.

On your first call you are on the 20 yard line, with four tries to get ten yards. Your primary objective is to get the first down. Examples of an equipment leasing first down: Obtaining a vendor’s email address; finding out what manufactures it represents; getting a list of its sales reps’names; discovering how decisions about leasing are made.

Can’t get a first down? No problem. You still try to pick up some yards. This is your secondary objective. Examples of forward momentum: Getting the screener’s name; leaving the prospect with a good feeling about your company; leaving a value-added voicemail message.

The rep I was working with had an appointment. So she was first and ten on the fifty. We set her primary objective to get the vendor to commit to using her on a trial basis on his next five deals.

Change your strategy from going for a touchdown on each play to be like Nick Foles. He is now the Eagles starting quarterback. He’s methodical, efficient and he keeps the momentum moving forward.

3. Get In The Red Zone

The red zone in football is where the team with the ball is inside their opponent’s 20-yard line and close to scoring. Does your offense need to become more creative to score? The defense needs to hold its opponents from crossing over the goal line. Or in the case of equipment leasing, can we be creative with educating our prospects and eventually having them cross over into becoming a vendor? We need a red-zone defense to maintain our customer base and use a creative red-zone offense to gain new lessees and vendors.

Every time your salespeople end a prospect call, there should be a request for some type of commitment to ensure they’re moving the chains up the field and closer to the red zone.

Closing question: “Megan, what can we do together to speed up the process and make this happen?” Ask for commitment with conviction. Your tone of voice does matter.

State the agreement you’ve reached, then ask for the major commitment: “Nicole, since we’re in agreement that this is what you’re looking for, let’s go ahead and get the paperwork started, OK?”

Closing question: “Do you have further questions, or are we ready to proceed?”

Closing question: “Is there anything else you need to know to move ahead with this application?”

“Pushiness” only occurs when you try to sell someone something they don’t want or need. Asking for the sale is not being pushy — it’s the proper activity for the red zone, assuming you’ve questioned effectively and made the appropriate recommendation.

Ask for decisions. Don’t let people put you off. It wastes your time and money. Equate getting a decision — yes or no — with success. Get in the habit of asking for commitments, and you’ll spend more time in the red zone and get into the end zone.

4. Review The Tapes

What is your post-game strategy? The last pass has been thrown and the final score is announced. The football team either celebrates or pouts. With either ending, top teams take the time to review the game. They want to know what they did right so they can repeat it, and what they did wrong so they can correct it. Does your sales team do a post-game debrief after appointments and presentations? Or does it go right into the next game without any reflection and correction?
Listening to prospect calls is the same as reviewing the tapes at the end of a game. The reps can hear what works and what doesn’t. You don’t need a fancy software system to do this, you can get a phone recording device from Radio Shack for less than $40.

5. Have A Tailgate Party

When is the last time your sales team had a tailgate party? This is where friends join together to eat, drink and relax. Hitting your sales quota is important; however, hitting the “fun” quota is equally important. Sales teams that play together, win together. And you’d be amazed at what it does for retention and recruitment.

First Lease in Pennsylvania had a tailgate party to kick off football season. Everyone wore football jerseys and brought in tailgating food (meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, wings). They successfully raised morale and raised money for charity at the same time.

Football is a fun sport, and it’s a great icebreaker to talk about while prospecting. Find out what team your prospective vendor roots for, then when you are calling to move the relationship forward you can talk about the team and build rapport.

The Philadelphia Eagles are having a pretty good year, not as good as the Kansas City Chiefs, but, hey, Andy Reid wouldn’t be where he is today without the Eagles.

Linda P. Kester is a bestselling author and professional speaker with 20 years of experience in leasing sales and marketing management. As founder of the Institute of Personal Development, Kester has helped hundreds of salespeople increase their volume. Her book, 366 Marketing Tips for Equipment Leasing, has produced results for leasing companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia. For more information, visit www.lindakester.com.

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