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Preface - Selling Saturdays

 

Our contemporary marketplace is full of opportunity yet fraught with peril. Selling Saturdays by Jeff Beals

 

To succeed as a marketer or salesperson in today's hyper-charged economy, it pays to borrow generously from other professions. You need new ideas and techniques to master the ancient art of deal-making in the twenty-first century. You must beat the competition and build relationships with prospects in order to close deals. Learn from the best—those sales professionals who succeed at the highest levels despite bearing the burden of unfathomable competitive pressure.

 

I can think of no more brutally competitive selling environment than the one inhabited by highly competitive, highly compensated and highly pressured college football coaches.

 

To win games and thereby keep their fat paychecks, college football coaches need talent. The only problem is that blue-chip talent is extraordinarily rare. In any given year, only a couple hundred high school seniors are available who have the potential to be game-changers in college.

 

College football coaches pursue the greatest high school players with relentless, unflagging intensity. In order to seal a deal with a star player, coaches must fight off high-powered competitors with huge marketing budgets and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Coaches must recruit year round even during the football season. They regularly work sixteen-hour days, and selling the team to prospective players takes up a big portion of those hours.

 

If you study the gridiron's greatest salesmen, and imitate their strategies and tactics, you will become a better marketer or salesperson yourself regardless of your profession or industry. And make no mistake about it: football coaches are salesmen. In the world of college football, the effort to attract talented players is known as "recruiting," but football is not like the human resources recruiting you would see in a typical company. College football recruiting is marketing and sales in its purest and most competitive form.

 

What's more, college football coaches sell the intangible just as so many of us do in the modern service economy. Coaches take the high school stars of Friday night football and sell them on the glory of Saturday afternoons inside huge stadiums on picturesque college campuses. Learn to sell the way a coach sells, and you'll be able to sell just about anything.

 

Successful college coaches bring great intensity to their sales work. Despite common beliefs to the contrary, those coaches whose careers persist for decades don't cut corners by cheating or lying. Nor do they rush the recruiting process and trick prospects into signing. The great ones do it right and dedicate the appropriate time, attention and resources at each step until the deal is signed, sealed and delivered.

 

That's what this book is all about—developing marketing plans, branding organizations, identifying prospects, building trusting relationships and closing deals. I wrote this book to show you new ways to approach marketing and sales while inspiring and emboldening you to reach new heights. My hope is that you will want to draft new marketing strategies, pick up the phone or hit the streets when you are finished reading.

 

As an author and speaker, I enjoy helping people and organizations become better at sales and marketing, but I have no interest in writing in "textbook" style. Instead I wanted to give you easy-to-implement sales and marketing techniques in a fascinating format that will stretch your imagination and pulse your desire to accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

 

I believe in learning through analogies and compelling stories. I constantly seek ideas and inspiration from other disciplines, adapting the material to my work. What's more, I believe learning should be entertaining and enjoyable.

 

What better way is there to improve your sales and marketing abilities than by using a sport that millions and millions of people so thoroughly enjoy? As a sales process, college football is dramatic, downright riveting. At times the poignant, personal stories in this book will feel like a soap opera. At other times, you'll think you're reading a mystery novel. In other instances, it may be more akin to an action-packed suspense movie.

 

College football is the second most popular major sport in America behind only the National Football League. Millions of people find fulfillment in following their favorite teams. While I assume most readers are at least casually interested in football, being a card-carrying member of the fandom is certainly not a requirement for you to get the key points here.

 

While writing this book, I delivered a handful of trial speeches based upon this concept of sales and marketing as a way to test the ideas and the stories. I considered these speeches to be my own little focus groups. After each one of those presentations, at least one person came up to me and said, "I'm not even a football fan, but I loved it!"

 

To assemble the material, I personally interviewed current college coaches, players going through the recruiting process, high school coaches, national recruiting experts, and perhaps most importantly, several legendary former coaches—guys such as Barry Switzer, Tom Osborne, Phillip Fulmer, Gary Barnett, John Cooper, Hayden Fry, R.C. Slocum and Jim Donnan. I worked for three years on this book, diligently researching and conducting hours and hours of interviews.

 

For experienced sales and marketing professionals, this book is intended to give you fresh ideas with a perspective you probably haven't viewed before and motivation designed to give you a kick start in your new sales ventures or renew energy for an established career. For new professionals, it will make the marketing and sales process come alive with captivating stories from a cut-throat profession.

 

As you read each story, picture yourself in the situation. Then imagine how the situation relates to the marketing and sales work you do or would like to do. Constantly be thinking about how you can transfer these strategies and tactics to your work. The football characters and their stories are entertaining and thought-provoking, but the purpose of this book is to help you be more effective as a marketer/salesperson while motivating you to do more.

 

This book traces the marketing process from branding to the follow-up after a sale is closed, but the first couple chapters will explain how football recruiting/selling actually works. Once you have a thorough understanding of that, it will be time to roll up your sleeves and prepare to emulate how the gridiron's greatest salesmen beat the competition and bring in highly rated classes of blue-chip players.

 

At the end of each chapter, you will find "Blue-Chip Tips," which are a summary of important take-aways you can apply to your marketing and sales work.

 

I don't normally use only male pronouns. And I do not wish to slight female readers. But football is male dominated and only men are coaches and players—so far. I recognize that salespersons are both male and female. I want my female readers to know that the obvious overuse of "he"

and "him" in referring to football scenarios is not reflective of any bias on my part, but of the state of football today. Sales, on the other hand, is generally a level playing field for both men and women (and I wouldn't bet against any female sales execs I have worked with).

 

Let's face it, the sales profession in any industry is highly competitive even when times are good. But if you think your sales work is competitive, you wouldn't believe the marketing and selling skills that are necessary to build a championship football team.

 

It's time to open your mind by learning how the famous coaches you see on television battle each other in the brutally competitive race to sign the nation's most prized, first-rate athletes. Are you ready?