Break down a sales presentation like an ESPN analyst

image courtesy of flickr user Monica's Dad cc

I'm not a sports addict, but I seem to catch a decent share of the sports shows. I am amazed at the depth of knowledge the analysts and commentators demonstrate. When the discussion comes to pre-game predictions, the conversation funnels down to a few key elements of the game plans of both teams. This very short list of items -- players, injuries, strategy and statistics -- are weighed to determine an outcome. Like most prognostications, the results are not 100 percent in line with predictions. However, the breakdown and analysis do more than help you set your personal odds for betting with a bookie. They give us viewers some interesting insights on which to focus as we watch the game.

This pre-game analysis approach is very similar to what a sales leader should be doing as he or she gets ready for an important meeting. By taking the time and doing the analysis and discussion as a team, you can improve the outcome.

Here are a few techniques of sports-show analysts you can use in your own pre-meeting preparation: 

1) Do the match-up analysis. When you are preparing for your meetings, take the five minutes necessary to look at the LinkedIn and Facebook profiles of each attendee. Whenever possible, match up your team members to theirs based on position, background and interests.

2) Know the stats. Your side will need to complete a basic company profile, problem analysis and the prospect's industry overview. The better sales teams use a template dossier to capture a thorough picture of the prospect company that they then update throughout the sales process. 

3 )Identify the 1-2 things to win. While your prospect ultimately needs you for a long list of reasons, their decisions usually come down to just a few key issues. You need to analyze the circumstances and have a good idea of what will tilt the field in your favor. 

4) Calculate the risks. While there are only a few things that can create an opportunity to win, there are also two or three key reasons that can cause you to lose. What are the prospect's biggest fears and concerns? These are what will stall or kill a sale in the last few minutes of the game.

5) Understand the game-changers. There are key players who make all the difference in the game ... Kobe, Tom Brady, Manning... They're the game-changers. Assess the game-changers on the prospect's team. Selling differs from other "sports" because sometimes the game-changer is not the franchise player but a strong influencer who can derail the whole process and change the whole game of your deal.

Some of the most successful sales organizations in complex sales follow this simple pre-meeting process. Doing the homework, knowing the hinge-points of the presentation and focusing on the right players can dramatically improve your win ratios.