Tom Landry was the first-ever coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He coached from 1960 to 1988, leading the Cowboys to five Super Bowl appearances and a record-setting 20 consecutive winning seasons. Landry pioneered several new techniques including the 4-3 defense and the shotgun formation on offense.
He was also the first coach to bring in specialty coaches for strength and speed as well as quality control coaches to review film from other teams.
Landry’s coaching emphasis was to prepare the players to run plays with as few mistakes as possible, and to prepare as well as the team could for all the possible actions of the other team. He had seasons of success and of failure, and was fired from the Cowboys before the 1989 season. His firing was wildly unpopular, and he remains a well-loved coach to this day.
(He passed away in 2000 at age 75).
As a coach, Landry did his best to lead his team to success. He was an excellent motivator who knew how to get the best from his team members. If Tom Landry were a sales coach, he would concentrate on understanding the needs of sales leads and prospects, as well as their possible objections to his team’s sales pitches.
His team would practice the necessary skills until they were prepared for any situation they might encounter – for example, overcoming the objections of the decision-makers you approach.
Let’s take a look at how to coach your team on this:
Decision Makers Reject Sales Calls, Not Solutions
The decision-makers you deal with are not rejecting a product, service or solution – they are rejecting a sales call. Therefore, you need to change your approach from selling, to creating an environment where you reduce the customer’s anxiety and ensure the customer is open and receptive.
Here are three simple steps to tripling your success rate in initiating relationships with decision-makers when prospecting:
1. Don’t sell.
80% of decision-makers are emotionally “closed” because they, like us, have all experienced pushy, confrontational sales reps. Therefore, the key to connecting with them is to act the opposite. Instead of “pulling the rope,” i.e. trying to force the decision-maker in your direction, simply “Drop the Rope.”
Communicate that you are not sure if what you offer is a fit, ask permission, complement their current supplier, speak in a relaxed, non-threatening tone. All of these behaviors communicate that you have “dropped the rope” and are demonstrating that you are honoring the customer’s freedom to choose.
2. Ask to learn more about them.
Secondly, high performing sales reps focus on getting agreement to the easiest next step a prospect can make – a Discovery Meeting. Many reps make the mistake at this very early stage in the sales process of asking the decision-maker if there is a need. The answer will most likely be “no.”
Instead, ask for an opportunity to learn about their key objectives and then they can decide (“dropping-the-rope”) if it makes sense to move to the next step.
3. Do your homework.
When asking for the opportunity to discuss and learn about them, demonstrate that you have done your homework and that you have some understanding of what’s important to the decision-maker. This not only ensures instant credibility with the decision-maker, but it also demonstrates that you have an Other-Centered objective (vs. trying to push your product or service, which is self-centered).
Summing It Up
To explore more ways in which coaches can empower and prepare their sales team to have the kind of winning season that would make Tom Landry proud, check out our whitepaper: Seven Barriers to Sales Prospecting.
If you found this blog helpful and want to go deeper into the concepts we covered, check out our new book, UnReceptive, at unreceptivebook.com.