If you have read my book, Brokers Who Dominate, you may recall the sport of lacrosse has played a prominent part in my life. As a kid passionate about sports, I related everything to the game. As adults we continue to compare sports to business. This time however, I want to switch perspectives and share with you some business lessons from a national lacrosse tournament I participated in this past weekend.
The Florida Lacrosse Classic brought together 42 teams from across the country, to compete in a national championship event, segmented by a variety of age groups. The winner of each division would be crowned “Masters National Champion” (affectionate term for old guys who play lacrosse) and ultimately be given the opportunity to play in the World Championships in the July of this year.
I had the privilege of playing with some old friends, and other fantastic players for “Team Florida”, my old stomping grounds when I first broke into the brokerage industry in the late 1980’s. Like most sports, the object is simple – score more goals than the other team. Throw in the mix of 50 year old men beating you with titanium sticks while you attempt to score makes it a bit more challenging.
The First Call is always the hardest – During our first game, we were clumsy, uncoordinated and downright bad. We flopped around with no direction and little understanding of what we were doing. Personally, I led the pack in sloppiness. Every time I went to the goal I got beat up and either missed my shots or got smacked into submission by an over-sized brawny defenseman. Prospecting without a plan, direction, or understanding of your objectives or perspective is just as futile. And yes, educated prospects will beat you up if you are not prepared. You might as well “cold call” and at the Massimo Group, we don’t coach cold calling – don’t believe in it.
You have to find your groove – After a bad loss in game one, our team started to figure out how to play with each other, and the goals started falling. Even my shots started falling; I got my legs and confidence back and was able to contribute. Not all my shots went in, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot, so I knew I had to generate more shots. I scored three goals (a hat –trick) in both games 2 and 3 and next thing I knew we were in the semi-finals. Prospecting takes a plan, but more importantly, it’s the consistent implementation of that plan that matters. Not every call will lead to a meeting, but I can guarantee you, avoiding prospecting will lead to very few, if any, quality meetings. You have to take your share of shots, and sometimes more than your share.
When you’re in the groove – keep going. In the semi-finals we faced a higher seeded team and found ourselves trailing 5 to 2 at one point. Then our fearless team leader asked us to “have fun and do something stupid”. All it took was one shot and I was “in the zone”. I kept on taking my shots, abusing my
body in the process, ended up with four goals and we found ourselves winning 10-9 and on our way to the National Finals for our division. I have seen far too many times folks giving up way to soon in their prospecting efforts. They secure one meeting and tell themselves to “stop while I’m hot”. How self-defeating is that? If you’re hot, take more shots, make more prospecting calls and ride the wave.
Make “one more call” – In the finals we faced a strong team from Maryland. However, my personal groove was gone. I stopped taking my shots. Things were not falling for me. Thankfully, we had a strong team; no longer resembling the bumbling old men we looked like only 2 days and 4 games earlier. We took a 7-2 lead late in the game, only to have our opponent tie the score at 8 in the final minute. The game would go to sudden–death overtime, with the next goal securing the National Championship. Despite playing poorly, I knew I was ready, in fact as soon as the game was tied I told myself – “Great – now you can end up on a high-note”. From all the abuse, beatings and moves the defense applied, I knew exactly what to do and how to get us in position to win. I took one more shot and, luckily, it went in. We won. National Champions.
Similarly, there are days I prospect and get beat up all day long, just like you. The easy decision is to cut your prospecting efforts short and move to another, less productive activity. However, in any competition, especially sales, winning is not easy. I can’t count how many times I, or our clients, have secured meetings by simply making one last call. OK, it is hokey, but being persistent, regardless of how the past has played out, is what will ultimately make the difference.
For me, I am not going to Disney World, but our team is going to the World Championships later this year – even at our old age!