Paul Lushin

What Sales People Can Learn from Basketball

Calling "Time Out" in Basketball - and in Sales

Watching college hoops during March Madness is an adrenaline rush for all that love sports, basketball or just a good contest by opposing forces. The other day I was watching Purdue get throttled by Texas Tech when my son, who is not athletically inclined nor has interest in anything involving a ball, started yelling, "Call timeout! Call timeout!" I did a double-take and, after a timeout was called, I asked my son, “What's up with you yelling, ‘Call timeout!’? I didn’t think you even liked basketball!” He said that he could take or leave basketball but the reason why he was yelling for a timeout was that the pace was getting out of hand for Purdue. He said that Purdue needed to slow the game down and reframe their heads. Wow, my 16-year-old son said that? (This is the son that can drive the wheels off a race car but throws a baseball like a newborn baby calf.)

I found it fascinating that a non-interested teenager watched an intense basketball game long enough to pick-up on when a situation was being outpaced by the losing players’ mental game. Like in sports, the same thing happens in sales. Has it ever happened to you that your prospect begins to out-pace you, or, worse yet, your “head and all the spinning thoughts” begin to outpace the reality of the encounter? It happens!

Funny thing - you want to know what I do when my reality begins to run faster than what “is”? I make a “T” with my hands and call a timeout. That’s right, I call an audible and say, “timeout!” Just that saying allows me to mentally catch up and distance myself from my out of control thinking and it gets me back into the moment. As for the prospect, I just tell them that what they just said or the question they just asked was insightful but to please give me a few seconds to ponder that and get caught up. Don’t worry about the exact words to say after you call a timeout because it doesn’t matter. That split second interruption helped, as my son would say, “to slow the game down to reframe your head!” Not bad for a 16-year-old!

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Categories: Closing, Prospecting, Sales, Qualifying