As a former college baseball player, for better or for worse, I apply the lessons I learned as an athlete to the business world. The lesson that’s translated most directly is “playing my way” into the lineup (not sure what that means? This description about making the lineup should help). In college, there were no daddy ball politics and the coach didn’t play favorites – I only played when I had proved to him in practice and during games that I could help the team win. The parallel to new business sales is unquestioned – if you don’t prove your company’s worth, you don’t win the business.
What better way to prove your company’s worth, and character for that matter, than proving your people and services can deliver results even before the contract is signed?
A perfect example of this has happened recently over here at 919 Marketing. We attended the IFA Annual Convention earlier in the year and our appearance sparked a large influx of new business leads. However, we were struggling to secure many clients from our efforts because the businesses we spoke with at the event were either already engaged with another firm or claimed they just couldn’t justify the spend. These companies were a great fit, needed our services and they seemed ready to buy at the conference – why weren’t they jumping on board to work with us?
Because, cliché as it may be, sometimes your actions speak louder than your case studies.
We turned our attention away from talking about everything we’ve done for other clients and focused on trying to land press for our prime targets. We got one of them a feature story in Entrepreneur Magazine, got another placed in Inc. Magazine and lined up press opportunities for a few others. Some of those opportunities turned into stories, some didn’t – but it was the effort itself that paid serious dividends. Since the PR push, we have signed two clients and are very close to signing a few more.
The whole process has taken me back to my senior year of college when I was playing the same position as two other very talented guys. For the first part of the year, we all played as part of a platoon as our coach was waiting to see if any of us could win the spot outright. About halfway through the season, I had performed well in pressure situations, like this one, and had proved to my coach that I could play the defensive position as well or better than my two competitors.
Now, did this guarantee me a starting job? Absolutely not. Generating that national press didn’t win us the business in and of itself either. But I can tell you this, getting it done on the field in front of my coach’s eye gave me a much greater chance of starting the next game than talking to him about past performances. And, though I haven’t been in the business world long, I have seen a crossover trend – prove your company’s worth today and it’ll be very hard for your prospect to “keep you out of the lineup” when he makes his decision tomorrow.