Sales Prospecting Perspectives

7 Inside Sales Lessons Learned on The Football Field

Posted by Megan Tonzi on Mon, Nov 24, 2023 @ 09:30 AM

Untitled_design_(2)Sales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you a post from Mike Lipka, Inside Sales Representative at AG Salesworks, and Kenneth McKenna, Business Development Representative at AG Salesworks.

Working in inside sales, we’re able to rediscover and uncover value from past experiences that help us prospect better. For Mike and I, playing football was something that surrounded all aspects of our lives during our tenure on the field. Now, a few years removed from the game and beginning a career in inside sales, all the messages and tips we were so accustomed to hearing every day from coaches and teammates have found resonance in our daily work.

Here are 7 pieces of inside sales advice lessons we've learned from playing football:

1. Make the first contact to get the “jitters” out.

In football, there is only one way to get rid of the pre-game jitters: Make your first contact of the day. Sales, like football, is a “contact” sport. You may not be ramming into people on the field, but you are calling people day in and day out, making “touches” with your accounts. Many sales professionals have a tendency towards call reluctance; however, great salespeople and great football players look forward to that contact and love it. Any inside sales or business development rep will tell you that they were nervous the first time they made a dial or had a quality conversation with a prospect. They would also tell you that they still get some of those jitters each morning before the first call of the day. However, they barrel through their first calls and eventually, the jitters go away, and they’re focused on the task at hand.

2. Repetition will help you improve.

Every time you strap on the pads for practice, you have the opportunity to become a better player. Every practice, game and film session is on opportunity to improve. In sales, each time we make a call or send out an email is an opportunity for us to learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to be more effective. Repetition allows us to fine-tune our skills and learn from our mistakes. If a call doesn’t go the way you planned, think about why and adjust. Cadence is a term that applies to both football and inside sales alike: follow your tempo and rhythm, and be regimented and systematic to achieve the best results.

3. Have a “short memory” when it counts.

When you get burned on defense or commit a penalty on offense, you need to have a “short memory.” Short memories help us mentally survive and then perform at our peak a few seconds later. Immediately forget your stumble, and move on to the next task. The same can be said on the phone when handling objections or encountering rude contacts. Instead of obsessing over this one conversation, reflect on it and learn from yourself to improve upon the next. When you are successfully qualifying, you are learning from yourself. What are you doing that is currently working? When you are struggling to pass leads and opportunities, think about what you are doing that isn’t working and try to correct it.  

4. Keep moving the chains.

In football, moving the chains means that the ball is moving down the field towards a touchdown. However slow and incremental that progress is, it’s still pointed towards your goal. In inside sales, that philosophy also stands. Whether it be something as subtle as a referral email or a call to someone you know isn’t the correct contact, you need to use each contact to build a big picture of your prospect company. Don’t be the inside sales rep or business development rep that writes off contacts who don’t have target titles; instead, turn those influencers into something positive. Being able to extract referrals is one of the most vital tools any sales professional could use, and often the most overlooked.

5. Play big.

In football, undersized people can play a big game. In inside sales, you can also play big by being confident and motivated. Don’t be afraid to call the CEO of that Fortune-500 firm. Hard work and desire beat talent every time. When you do cross the goal line and make the sale, act like you’ve been there before, and put your best foot forward. Confidence is everything in inside sales.

6. Play all four quarters.

In football, there are four quarters that you can play in; and you need to give it your best in every one in order to win the game. All it takes is all you’ve got. In B2B inside sales, there are also quarters, and each quarter counts. While we are in the fourth quarter especially, the pressure is on.  But don’t forget, as we move into Q1 of 2015, to continue to make your best effort throughout the rest of the year, too.

7. Someone out there is working harder than you.

Long-term success and long-term failure are both habits. In sales and football, it is important to remember that there is always a competitor out there working harder than you, and when you two meet, the harder worker will win. Therefore, continue to work hard and hone your abilities: take a sales class or workshop, attend a webinar, or download a helpful sales guide that could help you prospect better.

We’ve learned a lot from our football coaching and from the coaches at AG Salesworks. What are some sales prospecting tips you’ve learned from outside influences?

Tags: Sales Prospecting, Coaching, B2B Inside Sales, B2B Sales Success

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