Episode 37: The terrell oweNs guide to salesmanship
In episode 37, we let Terrell Owens, the recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee, be our guide to likability. You can learn from everyone in life—some provide guidance as to what to do—others what not "T.O." do. We believe the most likable sales reps do 3 things consistently: they prepare, are authentic, and are helpful. Focus on those 3 things for long enough and you’ll be inducted in the Sales Hall of Fame someday. Thanks for listening
The Terrell Owens Guide to Salesmanship
Recently a young LBM salesman reached out to me after reading my book, Behind Your Back: What Purchasing Managers Say Once You Leave the Room and How to Get Them to Say Yes.
"Your book is pretty funny," he said. "With new prospects, I try to keep everything very serious and 'all business.' Should I try to be funny? Would I be more likable?”
“The most likable sales reps did 3 things consistently," I said. "They were prepared, authentic, and helpful. Focus on those three things for long enough and you’ll be inducted into the LBM Sales Hall of Fame.”
That led to a few jokes about Terrell Owens. After being snubbed in his first two years of eligibility, T.O. was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame last week. (Although he skipped the induction ceremony, the first living player to do so.)
Terrell Owens is undoubtedly one of the greatest football players of all-time.
He is 3rd all-time in career touchdowns, behind only Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Only Rice has more receiving yards. Owens is the only player in NFL history to score two or more touchdowns against all 32 NFL teams.
And in 2000 he caught an NFL record 20 passes against my beloved Chicago Bears.
So why did it take him so long to get voted into the Hall of Fame?
In short, he’s unlikable.
While his talent and work ethic were legendary, he was a Me-First teammate and a royal pain in the neck for coaches and quarterbacks. There is a reason he played for 5 different teams during his stellar career.
Every team faced a constant tradeoff between his unlikability and his talent.
So, if not like Terrell Owens . . . what is the best way to be likable?
It’s too late for T.O.—his reputation precedes him now, especially after boycotting his induction into Canton last week— but it’s not too late for you.
Here are some relevant Terrell Owens lowlights on the topic:
Despite his absence from the NFL since 2012, Owens claims he has not retired and has been working out in the off-season with NFL Players. He wants to be prepared when the call, umm, doesn’t come.
How prepared are you for your next meeting with a prospect?
Block out 90 minutes and do nothing but research your client online. Yes— 90 minutes. Read every article. Research their competition.
Go to page 2 of the Google listings. Seriously, when was the last time you went to page 2 on Google? No one ever visits page 2? But you can.
After a Cowboys playoff loss in 2008, Owens cried when reporters questioned him about Tony Romo’s poor performance.
Tears flowing behind darkened shades, T.O. said, “That’s my teammate. That’s my quarterback. We lost as a team, man.”
The following week T.O. ripped Romo publicly, blaming him for his own lack of production.
Let the prospect know you’ve done your homework. Let them know you think long-term and your default mode is best described as self-aware, yet persistent.
Have a sense of humor and don’t act like you’re trying to play the role of a very serious businessman. If you’re not having fun personally—or making it fun for others to work with you—you’re missing out on the whole point of this “building America thing” we’re doing here.
The Allen Wranglers (TX) were the final team to officially cut T.O. Why?
After committing to attend, he no-showed at a local children’s hospital.
To put it mildly, that is not helpful.
Quit selling and try to be helpful.
Ask your prospect, “Of all the things you’re dealing with right now, what’s the biggest annoyance for you?”
Often, the response will come slowly as the prospect attempts to frame the response in terms of what you do.
If that happens, say, “Not specific to me or my business. I’m curious what’s frustrating you the most in your role . . . today. Right now.”
If he says finding a new Purchasing Manager, consider people in your network. Can you help him find a candidate?
Can you spend time reviewing your Linkedin connections?
If he says finding a new painting contractor, don’t think, “Awww, shucks. That stinks. I’m not a painter. I only sell lumber.”
Make some calls.
Who do you know that may be able to recommend a solid painting contractor?
It’s not about YOU.
Quit selling and try to be helpful.
It’s too late for Terrell Owens, but not for you.
The best human beings—sales professionals included—don’t “try to be something.” They simply think of other people first, work hard, and try to find a way to help.
And never, ever skip out on the event at the children’s hospital.
Thanks for reading.