Someone Else Understands Sellers Can Learn From Sportstars

I caught Beth Levine discussing her book for half-an-hour on radio.

I nearly skipped the chat. How’s this for a title ensured to switch off any non-American, non-Scot or proud geek, ie, almost the entire world; “Jock Talk“.

A lesson in how to shape your message to appeal to a specific audience.

So. Struggling to get over this naming annoyance I gleaned her central premise was that business people are largely useless at communication. And just about every Powerpoint presentation is rubbish.

As she’s observed from ‘coaching’ the sporty, business execs should take heed from how athletes conduct themselves when speaking in public. Especially as it’s often un-spun in the highly emotive, immediate aftermath spotlight, of victory or defeat.

This I heartily applaud. I’ve long loved writing my ‘sport & selling‘ posts. I’ve been asked by chief execs to run cheeky conference sessions sharpening a sales skill based solely on such a sporting parallel for their team.

A slide I’ve used to kick-off such sessions includes the cheeky adage;

silence is not only golden, it is seldom misquoted

After all, you don’t hear sportspeople prattle on much, do you?

Ms Levine sees sportstars are lucky in a way. When called upon to speak, it is in one of only two situations; won or lost. (Let’s bear with her lack of American appreciation for the oft-worthy “draw”.) Which gives simple scope to prepare well.

In her interview I was struck by how she framed setting athletes up for this.

How do they want to be perceived?

Which (individual, specific) words do they want to use?

What phrases do they like to be associated with?

There’s huge crossover with our field selling here.

The author moulds an approach as the book subtitle suggests, of 5 Communication Principles for Leaders as Exemplified by Legends of the Sports World (also summarised in this Forbes piece);

audience-centricity :: transparency :: graciousness :: brevity :: preparedness

With her trading name as SmartMouth, I was surprised this quintet wasn’t presented in an aligned acronym. Like ‘mouth’ perhaps;

Manners (graciousness) Out-drill (prepare) Unpacked (brevity) Them (audience-centricity) Honesty (transparency)

Alright, so some of these might be a bit of a stretch – my product of only two minutes thought – but still…

There remains a useful ticklist here to sanity check your latest pitch.

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