Ping Pong Sales…not what you think!

Author: Rocky LaGrone

All too often salespeople get jammed up on a live sales calls because they are trying too hard or they are following some kind of predetermined script.  Practice in low-risk situations and practice often, then when you get to the live meeting, let it happen.  Trust your gut! Get out of your own way!  Stop thinking and start listening.  If you are thinking to yourself, you are listening to yourself. We all know we are supposed to listen to the prospect but we often find ourselves listening to advise.  Or listening to ask more poignant questions. Or, listening to ourselves, we pontificate about something that is irreverent to the moment in time. 

A few years ago, my daughters had some friends over hanging out in the basement.  I was sequestered by the self proclaimed “King of Ping” who couldn’t be beat by his peers.  Devon challenged me to a game, then another, then another, then another.  I let him play for a while without using too many spins, back SLAPS, and SLAMS.  First, I didn’t want to intimidate him, but more importantly I wanted to learn his style, his weak points and his strengths. 

Like most winners, his attitude was strong!  He had some good moves for an intermediate player.  I’m no pro by a long shot, but it is my table! And I started playing in Jr. High with a group of overly competitive friends.   Of course I took him apart and set him up time and time again.  Not because I was so much better but because I was playing to his weaknesses.  Of course, I had to be observant to discover what they were before I could exploit them.

After several games, he began to lose confidence, become emotionally involved, and lost stamina.  I asked for the next player.  Mike had never played and I began to teach him the game.  “Serve like this.”  “Hold your paddle this way.”  “Change the angle of your wrist.”  “Don’t hit it so hard.”  “Learn to control.”  And so on and so forth.  Mike was right-handed and after 10 minutes of practice he began to do a little better.  Then I floored him with a change.  I asked Mike to switch hands. “Use your left hand.”  With a bit of hesitation he switched.

What an awesome sight!  He began hitting the table more often.  His returns were stronger.  The serves were more exact.  His instincts kicked in, as opposed to thinking about what he had to do, then sending the signals to his body and being late to the ball.  Mike was amazed, as were the other teenagers in the room. 

To prove this theory I did the same thing with three other kids.  We can argue over motor skills, natural left handedness, and all kinds of other things you like.  However, the point I’d like to make is that we need to stop thinking in sales calls and react.  Trust yourself to do the right thing at the right moment and stop thinking.  Do our thinking before and after the meeting.  Practice in your office, at home, and in social situations.  Pro athletes do not practice on the field during game time, why should you? 

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Author: Rocky LaGrone

Rocky LaGrone is a seasoned sales development expert with over 25 years in sales development and training working with well over 1,000 companies of all sizes in various industries.

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