A QB, a sales trainer and 3 steps to “separation by preparation”

Living on the east coast I didn’t get to see much of Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson during the regular season but with the Seahawks entry into the postseason I finally had a chance to watch him play. More importantly, I had a chance to see him interviewed.

As he answered questions I was struck by the young man’s poise and maturity and then he said something in the interview that instantly made him one of my favorite current players. In the course of the conversation he told the interviewer that the key to his success is his belief in “separation by preparation.”

In other words, this third round draft choice, who may be the shortest quarterback in the league, believes he will distinguish himself from the competition through hard work and diligence. Wilson’s extremely successful rookie season would certainly vindicate his approach.

As luck would have it, around the time that I watched this interview, I was finishing up a book by Linda Richardson called “Perfect Selling.” Her book focuses on the diligent preparation and planning that should go into every sales call we make. Here are three sales call prepartion ideas from Richardson’s book :

First, leverage the preparation you’ve devoted to understanding the prospect’s business by making sure the prospect knows you’ve done your homework. For example, saying to the prospect something like “I read about your initiative to….and discussed with my colleagues how we could assist…” This builds credibility and makes clear to the prospect that you’ve put in the extra time to ready yourself for the meeting.

Next, in preparing questions for the sales call plan to spend a disproportionate amount of time exploring and understanding the prospects needs and goals. Discipline yourself to not be satisfied with the first answer to a question but probe with follow up questions to make certain you have a deep understanding of the prospect’s situation (as an aside you can then use the answers you collect to design a persuasive presentation!).

Finally, make certain that you have thought through the next step that you want to come about as a result of the meeting and how you will ask the prospect to take that next step. For example: “why don’t we move ahead with putting together a proposal for you to review?”

Russell Wilson is known for watching film of opposing teams long after his teammates have packed up and gone home for the night. He’ll then make notes about the oppositions flaws and leave them in his wide receivers lockers for them to read upon their return the next day. That is “separation by preparation” and it’s something a sales person can emulate. Linda Richardson’s book shows us how.

Seahawks fans are awfully lucky to have Russell Wilson as their quarterback and I think if he wasn’t such a remarkably talented athlete he would make one terrific sales professional.

 

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