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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Selling and U of M Football

107,501 people - Human Thunder

A colleague of mine, a guy I think highly of, sells "old skool" - he works hard. He believes that prospects "buy from people they like" - which is always true, but a Selling Professional cannot invest in this as a complete strategy.
Oh, and he is successful.

We get into great discussions regarding selling and customer interaction and "worrying about the competition".

Let me illustrate -

My team has meetings in a Starbucks and we are rarely alone. In this environment, my compadre does not like to speak aloud about customers for fear that a "competitor" will overhear and act upon the ill-gotten information. He routinely hides his notes when visiting the lavatory.

My Feelings -

I guess this is an "extreme" - especially out here on the Best Coast, but here it goes:


Let them see the playbook, let them know my costs, my product, my weaknesses, and my strengths. Let them study me, role play against me, sell against MY strengths, and try to instill Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt – how very flattering.

I DON’T CARE – they are irrelevant.

It’s not Poker, it’s Football – Michigan Football

I grew up in Michigan – in a suburb west of Detroit and East of Ann Arbor; we love our football. (yes, even the Lions). I played from 3rd grade to the end of High School; The Westland John Glenn Rockets.

We were very serious, we team members attended the 6th hour, “Football Tech”. At that time in history, few high schools had a class set aside for the football players. We did. And our coaches modeled the program after Bo’s at the University of Michigan.

I could go into a great deal of background about coaches Bo Shcumblekler and Woody Hayes and “oh how I hate, Ohio State…” perhaps a later post – my point is, football was important, and the ideals instilled on the gridiron as a kid, are rock solid today.

Michigan vs. Ohio State-

All year long, in the winter, spring, and summer two-a-days, long before the very first snap of the season, the Wolverines practice for the Ohio State game. The Ohio State game is the last game of the regular season and although each Saturday brings a different opponent, EVERY practice has a portion dedicated to “Beat Ohio State”; when you are recruited as a High school senior, the drum line begins, "Beat Ohio State".

It doesn’t matter if Michigan loses every game of the regular season (hurl), just beat Ohio State, and all will be forgiven. Ok, the fans expect more, so maybe not “all”.

The Big House –

To semi-quote, the Bard of Avon is “All the world a stage”?

…no, no, no, all the world’s a Grid Iron. And the University of Michigan has got the biggest, baddest gridiron in the Galaxy.

In the beginning, 440 tons of reinforcing steel and 31,000 square feet of wire mesh went into the building of the 44-section, 72-row, 72,000-seat stadium at a cost of $950,000 back in the 1920’s.

Today, it can hold 107,501 fans. It is huge. And when filled with Michigan fans, it is a monster. A living, breathing, powerful monster and the best "12th man" in the world.

If you've been to a game in the “House” you know – but if you haven’t, nothing I type can convey the experience, it is awesome. Not the soft, pleasant, surfer-type of “awesome-duuude”, this is Mid-West, overwhelming, bigger than all of us, Wango-Tango, industrial strength, kick-ass, AWESOME.

What does this have to do with Selling?

It’s the last game of the season, Michigan vs. Ohio State, mid-1970s. The Michigan sky is crisp, blue, and the November temperature is around 42 degrees – cool enough to hear the “snap” of the helmet to helmet, Riddell to Riddell contact – glorious.

Michigan has the ball late in the 4th quarter. It’s 3rd and short at mid-field. Woody Hayes is coaching the Buckeyes. Bo Schembechler commands the Wolverines. Woody taught Bo all he knows about football. Bo knows Woody’s defense like the back of his hand.

There are 108,000 plus fans in the House. 90% of the TVs in Michigan are on the game; literally, millions of people around the globe watching this next play – and everyone, the fans in the parking lot, press box, and bleachers, the 75-plus players on each sideline, the two dozen or so coaches, the referee’s, the 22 players on the field, right down to the two key Ohio State defensive players all know what play is coming.

Bo knows everybody can see what’s coming – so what?

Here it comes, stop us.

Right up the middle, a cacophony of colliding beliefs and passions - three-yard gain and a first down - Welcome to football - Michigan Football.

Welcome to Sales, my kind of selling.

Fire forges strength – pain makes for gain.

Assume your completion sits right next to you in every sales meeting and strategy session.

Be prepared.
Be confident.

Go forward in strength, not fear.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated