From SOLD Magazine
College football is big business in the U.S. with the most successful academic institutions, along with their football coaches, making a lot of money. The foundation for fielding a great team every year is recruiting the best athletes out of high school. Just a few outstanding recruits can turn a losing team into a winning one.
So what does college football recruiting have to do with sales? Actually, quite a bit. In fact, most people who work within highly competitive sales and marketing environments would probably say to themselves “college football recruiting sounds a lot like the environment I work in.”
Jeff Beals has made a “winning” connection between college football recruiting and the art of selling in his new book Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips from College Football. There are a lot of books on the market about selling, and the books that stand out from the rest usually take an innovative, unique approach to the topic. This is exactly what Beals has done.
There is certainly nothing new with the connection between business and professional leadership concepts and sports. However, tying sports to sales strategies and concepts is certainly a fresher approach-- and highly valid.
Beals builds a compelling case for the usefulness of using college football recruiting as a tool to better understanding the art of selling. He pulls from the extensive material he has generated from interviewing highly successful football coaches, such as Barry Switzer, Tom Osborne, Joe Moglia, and Gary Barnett. These coaches built their fame by being particularly successful at attracting the best recruits by selling their programs, brands, and, most importantly, themselves.
Once establishing the connection between college football recruiting and selling within most other environments, Beals expands on a variety of concepts that have contributed to sales strategies and approaches found in the literature for the past several decades. Some of these include personal branding, networking, identifying and using targeted strategies and tactics, and prospecting and qualifying potential clients (or recruits). He also spends considerable time on the importance of the sales presentation, and how to balance the use of information and visuals with simple relationship building and empathy.
Additional focuses embraced by Beals that are particularly relevant to society today—and critical to successful sales—are cultural sensitivity and changes in technology. Football coaches deal with teenagers from all cultures and walks of life, and must not only accept these differences, but embrace them to be successful. Breaking down barriers by communicating with prospects and their families at their particular levels and comfort zones can make the difference between success and failure for college football coaches. Sales professionals can learn a valuable lesson from this. In addition, technology advances in the last several decades have generated changes in rules and accepted practices that both football coaches and sales professionals have had to face.
Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips from College Football is a good read for people interested in expanding their sales knowledge and capabilities, although understanding and having an interest in college football will most likely enhance the experience some. In addition, the book is highly relevant to any recruiter whose mission is to identify and attract the best talent possible, beating the competition.
Beals' style is easy and smooth, providing a bit of informality that is effective. The book appears well researched with excerpts from the coaches’ interviews effectively intertwined with Beals’ observations and contentions.
While sales people have often gotten a bad rap for being insensitive and superficial, Beals provides an alternate description that includes honesty, passion, hard work, creativity, and determination—traits he believes all of the most successful college football coaches share. If you want to gain valuable tips from highly successful coaches (hardcore salespeople), check this book out.
You can find Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips from College Football on Amazon.com, BN.com, or SellingSaturdays.com.
– By Steven Watson for SOLD Magazine (www.soldlab.com/sales-magazine)
From Midwest Book Review=
Award-winning author Jeff Beals presents Selling Saturdays: Blue-Chip Sales Tips from College Football, a solid guide to achieving success in the competitive realm of sales, couched in terms readily accessible to readers of all backgrounds, especially football fans. Chapters discuss how personal branding can aid in marketing, how to develop a sales strategy, delivering one's message through venues ranging from postcards to telephone to social media, how to close a deal, and much more. "There are an infinite number of possible objections a prospect could throw at you, and there are countless ways of responding. That said, you will probably have a list of five to ten most common objections. Have answers and rationale ready to go for each of the most likely ones. Preparation means you know what to say and also allows you to be more relaxed and confident as you sell." Highly recommended.
In the USA, American Football is a massively popular sport, which makes it a big business with a lot of money involved. And it all revolves around the players, where rare talent and hard training create some of the best athletes in the world. But where do you find such talent? Fortunately, there is a well-defined system of football in high schools that feed universities, from which the national players are selected.
So what has football got to do with sales? There are many, many books on sales, so if you want to learn something new, then a great technique is to fish elsewhere. And this is what author Jeff Beals has done. He noted the incredible difficulty that colleges have in attracting the best high school football stars and spent three years interviewing top coaches and researching the ways they persuade the star players to sign up with them. And from this has derived many lessons that sales people can practically use.
Imagine, then, that you are college football coach, desperately competing with all the other coaches to get the high school stars to sign up with you. Those who get the best will win the most and a good signing is worth a hundred game plays. And the way you do this is to sell your college, team, program and, of course, yourself to a 17-year-old, his family, his coach, friends and anyone else who may influence his choice.
What comes across clearly in this book is the intense passion and determination that coaches show in recruiting the best. They start early, travel far and spend huge amounts of time and energy in pursuit of hormonal teenagers. They use every sales method in the book and then some, which is why Beals has written this book for sales people. It is also a great book for recruiters as talent is always rare and having the best people on your business team can also have startling effects on your results.
The author brings the subject to life with many examples and you do not need to understand or enjoy American Football to appreciate the points, although those who do will probably feel these more strongly. Overall it is an easy read and makes it abundantly clear that the most important part of selling is you, your determination and your character. For while deception may win in the short term, the famous and successful coaches live on their personality and integrity.
So if you want to learn from the best salespeople in an incredibly tough market, buy this book!
From National Association of Realtors Weekly Book Scan
OK, I realize it's bowl season, so let's just get this out in the open right now: I love watching football; I'm just not that into college ball.
Maybe it's because during my undergraduate career I worked at a bar that was stumbling distance from a dry, but very popular football college stadium, whose team was mired in scandal that my tuition helped pay for.
Or maybe it's the professionalism of NFL players, or the closer games, or the fact that I always seem to be busy on Saturdays. Regardless, I was a little worried I wouldn't "get" Jeff Beals' new book, Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips From College Football . On the contrary, I really enjoyed learning more about college ball (without having to actually watch it). Beals' first five chapters are almost exclusively stories from the gridiron and the recruitment trips that back it up.
While the stories are interesting, the initial advice Beals pulls from them lacks the specificity that leads to inspiration. "Adapting to unfamiliar surroundings" and "keeping up with the changing game" are vague action items that lack the "easy-to-implement sales and marketing techniques" Beals promises in his preface. Later in that same preface, Beals encourages readers to picture themselves in the situations he describes throughout the book and "imagine how the situation relates to the marketing and sales work you do."
Wait. If coming up with my own brilliant analogies of how your sports stories relate to me is my job, I'd rather read a Vince Lombardi biography.
Don't get me wrong; I was genuinely interested in learning why left tackle is such a difficult position for coaches to fill, what the inside of a team's "war room" looks like, or that the NCAA has an actual recruitment exam to keep coaches constantly aware of the rules for contacting players. While the book does provide anecdotes that underscore the importance of attributes such as good listening skills, it doesn't hand out any concrete advice until chapter six.
Beals starts trotting out his original ideas around page 100 and doesn't stop until the end of the book. He begins with a smart way to go about the sometimes repetitive job of branding: Use the most interesting part of your job to describe your expertise and your place in the market. I also thought his three-tiered goals of networking had some of the specificity lacking in earlier chapters. The next chapter also goes into some depth about finding a sales strategy based on an honest assessment of your market and your place in it.
The book is generally heavy on strategies for securing clients (which, for coaches, is the acquisition of blue chip players) and hiring the best (in college football: getting excellent assistant coaches and recruiters on the payroll). But Beals also touches on leadership, training, prospecting, advertising, listening skills, closing, competition, and more. He even has a whole chapter on the sales presentation.
While convincing a 17-year-old Texan to commit to playing for Northwestern is significantly different from what happens in the average listing presentation, the chapter still contains some useful nuggets for real estate professionals who are relatively new to presenting pitches.
In all, this is a great book for a salesperson who loves college football. It's a decent pick for a salesperson who likes football in general and is either new to sales or has not read a lot of sales tips books. Just keep in mind that that the first 100 pages are astro-fluff.
A REVIEW BY JOSHUA WALDMAN
Hayden Fry enjoyed a long career as a college football coach, with successful tenures at Southern Methodist, North Texas State, and the University of Iowa. At each of those schools, Fry inherited losing football programs and converted them into winners. He retired in 1998 with 232 wins and five years later was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
And what does this have to do with sales and marketing? Everything.
Jeff Beals' book uses examples and anecdotes from the world of college football recruiting to illustrate the key tenets of effective sales and brilliant marketing. There's trust, for example – when there's a level of trust between a football coach and his new players, he doesn't have to
"sell" them anything. It's the same with marketing professionals in other businesses – you don't have to do a lot of selling if your clients believe you have their best interests in mind.
Beals interviewed legendary football coaches, players and their parents, and sports journalists to build the backbone of this book. He details the battles of famous football coaches in the brutally competitive atmosphere of college recruiting. "This book is intended to be entertaining and enjoyable for football fans," says Beals, "but its mission is much deeper than that."
And the book succeeds in his mission – it offers sound advice on marketing plans, branding, identifying new prospects, building trust, and closing the deal.
One of the well-presented lessons in Selling Saturdays is that as technology changes, techniques change, which is often followed by rules changing. College coaches at one time could call prospective recruits as often as they wanted. The rules changed, and the coaches' phone calls
were strictly limited by the National College Athletic Association. Then texting became popular and resulted in more than a few instances of stunned parents opening cell phone bills. The NCAA changed the rules and limited coaches' access to texting. Then it was Facebook ... and as Beals points out, this is no different from the ways technology and the rules change in the world of marketing.
Selling Saturdays also covers communications plans and media strategies; it includes a thorough discussion of branding. He explains the importance of adapting to the environment and when to give the client a little space. Beals wraps up chapters with Blue Chip Tips that summarize key points and relate them to sales skills and marketing techniques. Football examples illustrate the concepts and practices that are key tenets of good marketing; his story about Which side of the ball do you want to play on? is one of the best.
If you love football, you'll love the book. If you don't love football and don't even know anything about football, don't let that hold you back. If you're keen to improve your sales and marketing skills, this book is packed with good lessons.
– Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies and blogger at CareerEnlightenment.com