July 9, 2010

Sales Lesson from Lebron & ESPN’s Over-hyped Disappointment

I had no intention of posting today.  New to this whole blog deal, I’ve been sketching out my thoughts for a series of posts about the biggest issues facing both my sales team and me.  But I can’t get the whole Lebron thing out of my head, and I am still so confused how something hyped as so huge could come off so poorly and leave an entire nation of sports fans shaking their collective heads.  Lots of stone-throwers online this morning bashing Lebron and ESPN – deservedly so.

Let me just say it:  Boring.  Stupid.  Underwhelming.  Embarrassing.  A huge disappointment.  Total waste of precious time. So, let me ask you, O Great Sales Hunter:  how often have you left a big prospect feeling that same way after an initial meeting with them?

Aside from the unashamed display of obscene narcissism, ESPN’s and Lebron’s real sins were not living up to the hype and expectations and delivering such a boring self-focused presentation.

As new business development people, we work so darn hard to get an audience with our target prospects, even harder to get in front of a dream prospect.  Research, a drip campaign, emails, links to creative YouTube videos, an impactful relevant dimensional mailing, a whole lot of dials hoping to catch the contact, a powerful brief voicemail with compelling reasons to call back, and finally, a live conversation where we execute the call perfectly, handle objections masterfully, ask 3 times for them to “visit.” You promise “value” for the time spent together, even if you’re not a “fit.” (more on those magic words in a future post).  And then you finally hear what you’ve worked so long and so hard for:  “Alright, I’ll see you.”

So in the name of all that’s good and right, and for the sake of the rest of us out here trying to make a living, don’t go in there and pull a Lebron/ESPN blowing it for yourself and damaging our profession.  Deliver the value you promised.  Structure an “other’s-centered” agenda that makes sense.  Show that you understand the audience’s perspective, demonstrate that all your hype and effort to get that appointment was not a farce or wasted energy.  Please don’t be a bore.  Look and sound passionate.  Ask great questions (are you reading this Jim Grey? I know Lebron wasn’t helping you, but you didn’t bring your A-game for the biggest audience of your career).  And please, please, please, at the right time, tell a compelling story that show’s you get it — that it’s really about the buyer, not you.  You did promise you’d bring value, didn’t you?

Surprised and disappointed this morning.  This was too big to let pass. May we not leave our dream prospects saying about us what we’re saying about Lebron and ESPN this morning.