With Football Season Upon Us—I thought I would stop my normal series and talk about how to Block and Tackle.
I have always been a huge fan of football.
I would love to be able to tell you about my amazing football career and how it lead me into the various leadership positions I have been blessed with over the years. However, that would not be the case—although I was actually reasonably adept at the sport when playing in PE class.
At one time, I even decided to pursue playing on the high school football team. Then a defining event changed my direction back to the field of music. I can remember it just as if it happened yesterday.
It was during the spring of 1973. I was in the eighth grade and getting ready for that transition into high school, when I decided to join several of my friends during Spring Training Camp for our high school football team—The Valley Point High School Mighty Green Waves!
The sounds of shoulder pads crunching…
The sounds of athletes grunting as they delivered and received hits from their teammates…
And most importantly—the sounds of both of my thumbs breaking as a football was slammed into my stomach.
It was that last memory that changed my direction. At no time during my 12 years in various band programs did I ever break a bone
Not once! 🙂
The fundamentals of success in football have a common link to the fundamentals of success in sales. Blocking and tackling are key.
Block your schedule—and tackle your tasks.
Success in sales is always a combination of activity and skill set. You have to learn how to budget your time in both areas. For decades, I have taught the concept of Action Blocks.
An Action Block is a two-hour period of time in which you are highly focused on the activities needed to generate a desired outcome. This two-hour period of time should be played like a game—a very fast-paced game. And it should also be fun for you and anyone you are working with. Be enthusiastic, focused, and a little light-hearted.
Examples of Action Blocks:
Prospecting Action Blocks – two hours of prospecting designed to be fun, fast-paced and effective, with a goal of making the minimum number of contacts needed to schedule one appointment for a sales presentation. When you set one appointment, it’s a win. When you set more than one appointment, it’s a super win!
Referral Action Blocks – two hours focused on gaining referrals and introductions from your existing clients and contacts, leading into their sphere of influence. Similar to a Prospecting Action Block, this should have the minimum activity goal of gaining enough referrals that you are able to generate a minimum of one presentation appointment.
Follow-Up Action Blocks – two hours of following up on prospecting calls, contacting referred leads, making presentations and completing other necessary follow-up meetings based on your industry and product. Your goal is to move your contacts through your sales cycle.
Skill Set Action Blocks – two hours devoted to your personal development and getting better at your craft. Ideally, spend this time in practice and being coached by your trusted mentor, or with a colleague polishing your skills. If you must be alone, spend the time working on a specific skill and/or developing creative ways you can add value to your clients and their lives or businesses.
There may be other blocks that you need based on your product or organizational structure—i.e., administrative blocks, delivery, etc.
Look at your calendar like a puzzle; then plug in your blocks. Assign those blocks to specific times in your weekly schedule.
Then, protect your time by putting a “fence” around your most important blocks. Once that “fence” is in place, you should not allow “predators” to come in and steal those activities away. Don’t allow anything to get in the way of accomplishing the goal of the Action Block.
“A sales professional’s income will always mirror the level of their prospecting, whether going up or down. It just does so on a delayed basis based on your sales cycle.”
– Jeff C. West
For most salespeople, prospecting seems to be their least favorite activity; therefore, it is often neglected—especially right after closing a sale and earning commissions. As a matter of fact, many salespeople stop prospecting completely during the delivery and income stage in their sales cycle.
But beware! When prospecting goes down, income is sure to follow.
Make a hard and fast rule that you never break. Always complete a minimum of one Prospecting Action Block every day. Do this without fail. Especially on days where you have just closed a sale, delivered a product, or earned a commission.
That Action Block will usually yield an appointment that will be bringing your next sale. You will often find that the best time to get people to say yes to an appointment is when you just closed another sale. Your excitement comes across, and they can sense it.
Final thought: Find an accountability partner. You need someone who cares about you and your family that you can share your goals and your activity plan with. Give that person permission to help you hold yourself accountable for doing the activities.
Set your goals.
Calculate the activity needed.
Plan your work.
Work your plan.
Reap the rewards!