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  • Brett Zalaski

What's up in #SportsBiz sales for 2020?


In January of 2020 it will have been 15 years since I started as an inside sales rep at CEB. That makes me really, really, and, officially, really old. In that role I made about 200 phone calls a day, which sounds like a lot...but that's really the only way we could connect with people. I know that sounds insane...but that was the reality of our world and how it communicated. I mean, we still were excited to get emails back then!


My job was to call someone, hope they answered, and deliver a value proposition. It was pretty straightforward.


Now? A sales rep has to think about how they are going to communicate with a client. Phone? Personal email? Email blast? Text message? Tweet? LinkedIn message? Email with a video?


And when they do this, should the give a lot of information? A little information? Should they focus on value? Should they leave a message on the phone? Is it ok to text message? Is messaging through Facebook or Twitter creepy? What message gets an email returned? What message gets a voicemail returned?


I've watched all of this spin reps directly into the ground, or make their heads explode. I've got hundreds of reps writing in to this site asking this question. It's also a question I get asked a TON whenever I speak at conferences or trainings.


So ready for my answer? Ready for my biggest piece of sales advice heading into 2020? Stop selling. Start negotiating.


'Awesome, Brett. What the hell does that even mean?'


First off, we're going to write a lot about this in 2020. Get ready.


Second, you're spinning your head around because you believe the buyer KNOWS the information, but you SELL on passing along that information...so all you're heading for is an information collision.


You have a CRM system. What have they bought before? What recommendations would you make to them based on that information BEFORE you even got them on the phone? We need to migrate from information passing to recommendation making. And that should start the MINUTE you get on the phone with them. Stop doing the clunky sales techniques of 2005-2019. Start negotiating with them from the start...and treating them like we know them organizationally from their past information, and we, as salespeople, have an expert opinion for them. Doing this will allow you to make clear value statements to people through whatever channel you decide to connect with them on, and will un-muddy all the questions from the 4th paragraph above.


You want to know why you already know this works? YOU get sold to this way. Literally every retailer is always customizing their message to you based off the information they already know about you. And you don't mind it. If fact, you make a lot of purchase decisions because of it. You don't find it creepy...you actually find it pretty cool.

Love the quote on the right here. But I have a small quibble with it. Sales isn't about selling anymore...and it is absolutely about building trust. But it's not about educating anymore. It's about recommending. When you recommend, you start a negotiation. And a sales rep KNOWS that negotiating produces more sales than a more traditional sales process today. So change it up heading into 2020...and I'll be back with more information on how to do just that in 2020!