Combating 'Your Team/Sport Sucks'
The article earlier this week on 'How to Sell a Losing Team' had a great response...but it begged a few questions. 'Those are great theories...but what do I say when someone tells me this directly,' was one of a few similar responses.
It's a super fair question. I was never a huge fan of someone saying, 'You should do this,' without them actually telling me what do. So I'll tackle that by framing it around soccer...a sport I sold for over a decade.
In soccer we have Euro-Snobs, or people who say they won't watch MLS because it's an inferior brand of soccer to what they watch in Europe. It's really easy to get defensive here. The quality of the product on the field has grown every year. It's something a lot of people in MLS are very proud of. Unfortunately, no one ever gained anything by arguing with a prospective client in sales.
Here's a truth. Most of these people have real challenges instead...and are just using this as an excuse. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try your way around it...there are always exceptions to the rule.
'Re-frame, don't argue.' That's a common phrase I told the reps I led. So what does that look like?
Prospect: MLS soccer just isn't up to par with what I watch on the weekends. I don't want to spend money on an inferior product.
Rep: First off, I appreciate you saying that. I'm sure there are tons of soccer fans who think the exact thing who won't give us the courtesy of saying that to us...so I'm genuinely appreciative of your candor. If you don't mind my asking, what team do you support?
Prospect: I'm a Barcelona fan.
Rep: Incredible team. How often are you able to make it back to Spain for their matches?
Prospect: I've been to one in my life.
Rep: How incredible was that atmosphere? To be in that stadium?
Prospect: Amazing. Genuinely one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Rep: I'm sure. I'm really jealous. Listen, I'm not going to convince you that MLS is better than La Liga. It's not. But what I can tell you is that if you loved that atmosphere, 17 times a year, we replicate that atmosphere here, in your city. I'm not asking you to come all those times, but if you are truly a soccer fan who truly loves being in that atmosphere...trust me that this will be well worth your time.
Sometimes it works. Many times it doesn't. But it works all the way better than arguing. The quote on the right is spot on. If you are going to be defensive, or tell someone their wrong, you can't progress the conversation. Nobody wants to hear that...even if you're right. Your goal needs to be to move the conversation forward, give yourself a chance. By re-framing around something that you know works. Whether it's the sport, or the teams success, it always needs to be more about the environment, or the shared experience. You can win that battle. You can't fight the scoreboard or the sport...and you especially can't fight those people who care enough to jump on that. So embrace the mantra, 're-frame, don't argue.' It works better than anything else.