(By Bob McCurdy) It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart for the sport of basketball, so when I began writing this blog about fundamentals, I immediately recalled a quote from ex-NBA player and current TV commentator, Shaquille O’Neal. What follows is O’Neal talking about another hall of fame basketball player, Tim Duncan:
“I called him The Big Fundamental because his fundamental skills were perfect. I put him in the same category as Larry Bird. Larry Bird didn’t run fast or jump high, but he’d eat you alive with his fundamentals. That’s what Tim did.”
So with the CES a week or so behind us and with all of the press about technology and gadgets that are being touted as life- and game-changing down the pike, I thought it might be an appropriate time to reinforce the importance of fundamentals. As commissioned salespeople, it’s always a good idea for us to keep an eye on the future, but a better idea to keep our feet firmly planted in the present.
The thing that many find challenging about fundamentals is that they can be boring and repetitive, are not high-profile, and perfecting them usually requires some practice, drilling, and rehearsing, which some tend to avoid like a cat avoids water.
Yet, the fundamentals separate winners from losers. The greatest sports coach of the 20th century, according to many, John Wooden, began the first day of practice each season by reviewing how to correctly put on socks and tie shoe laces as he knew no matter how good any player might be, they could not play well with blisters and untied sneakers — can’t get any more fundamental then that.
What follows are a few “fundamental” thoughts that might assist in making 2019 a more productive year.
Elevator pitch: Do you have one for each station? The cluster? The industry? Are they fact-filled and not a fairytale? Flow smoothly? Updated regularly with new ratings/qualitative data?
Preparation: It can’t be faked and proper preparation provides what is probably the most important ingredient of any effective presentation — confidence.
Face calls: Make the additional effort to make this happen. They pay huge dividends.
E-mails: Ramp up on the phone calls, ramp down on the e-mails.
Decks: Would you be impressed if they were presented to you? Autograph them with excellence.
Pre-selling: The number one reason I always hear for not doing more of it is “time.” Proper time management creates the time. By the time avail drops, the outcome is largely determined.
Phone calls: Returned in a timely fashion. I know one salesperson who’s built his “brand” by promising to return any phone call within 30 minutes.
Daily Planning/Time management: We each get 1,440 minutes/day. Is there a well- conceived plan on how to use each one of them between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Friday?
Appearance: Clients and prospects thin-slice. Time for a wardrobe refresh?
Follow up/thru: Is it world class? Timely? Does it build upon what was discussed? Strong enough to keep the conversation going? Concise? It will separate you from the pack.
Mastery of sales tools: All things are difficult before they become easy. Those that master and use these tools do themselves a huge favor as they’ll save countless hours over the course of a year, not to mention the positive impact of telling better “stories” and the income that will generate. If the saying “time is money” is true, then those who master these tools will ultimately make more $$.
Listen: Let the client finish their thoughts. Less interruptions.
Prospecting/new biz: Part of our daily routine? We find time to eat lunch every day, there’s time to prospect.
Eat and sleep: Could be the most important fundamental of all, a well-rounded diet and good sleeping habits. In 2019, it is also imperative to add digital to our daily diet — it is a super food.
There’s little earth-shattering in any of the above, but execution of these fundamentals always moves the sales needle. Success is neither magical nor mysterious but is typically the consequence of consistently applying the fundamentals regardless of profession or sport. The best part of all is that they are within our control.
2019 is the year of the Earth Pig in China. In your market make it the year of “The Big Fundamental” and make more money by doing so.
Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]