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Selling the Combine: A Case Study

Guest Post by Sam Caucci

It’s that time of year. From coast to coast trainers have just finished preparing NFL hopefuls for the most important race of their football career: the tests where millions of dollars are on the line. NFL Agents have turned over their newest investments to NFL Draft Prep facilities all over the country. As big as the NFL Scouting Combine is, only around 345 players get an invite, a highly competitive niche market for training programs.

Ten years ago NFL Combine training was offered in a few select facilities across the country. Today, it’s hard to find a facility without it. For the biggest facilities this is a $500,000 addition to their revenue stream; for others it is an opportunity to earn a name for themselves in the market.

A lot of action. And before that, a lot of selling.

So, how exactly do you sell a player on moving across the country and putting their trust in you?  Just take a look at the principles that have guided me to bring nearly 300 NFL Draft prospects in the door. Here are the 3 principles that I live by in order to pack a facility full of NFL hopefuls:

1. Challenge your prospect. It is your responsibility to challenge the prospect’s motivations and to properly match them with your product or service. Sometimes there is not a fit. In dealing with nearly 200 potential players every recruiting season, I know that there are at least five other facilities who will be on the phone with them at some point saying a lot of the things that I’m saying. I need to do something different.

During the first twenty minutes in any recruiting convo I ask hard questions to glean great answer and information, and I listen. How great of a question asker are you? Are you challenging prospects to find out their expectations? If you don’t challenge them, somebody else will.

2. Sales don’t just happen. In any industry you have to work for the sale. Yet, there are many facilities, even in the combine training world, who believe that sales just somehow happen. They seem to believe that if you direct mail drop 1,000 marketing pieces to agents and then happen to have a website, sales will just come to you. I wish it was that easy. Marketing gets you on the field; your sales effort is what gets you into the end zone. It is no different with the players that do the training at our facility for the combine. Simply because they show up and work for seven weeks they’re not entitled to be drafted. Embrace this principle. Put it in front of your face in your office. Sales happen when you make them happen.

3. Get Ready for Rejection. Sometimes games don’t end well. Sometimes the player you have put the most time into ends up trusting their training program to another facility. What do you do when this happens? How do you respond? Are you afraid of failing?

You will miss sales. You will miss sales you think are locks and you will lose sales even after they step into your facility. The important thing is that you are first attuned to the possibility and prepare for that ahead of time, and secondly sell hard enough so that you can lose some along the way. Get ready to be rejected, don’t take it personally, and you are on the right path to hitting your sales goals.

So, what kind of salesperson are you? Build out the principles, write them down, and make them an integral part of your organization’s sales culture.

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2 Responses to Selling the Combine: A Case Study

  1. ajones97 April 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Hello Lewis, I like this and I like your approach. As a former First Round Draft Pick back in 1988 unlike some of my peers at college. I understood back then training and hard work would get me to the next level, of course you must have some God gifted ability as well. I know that all to well that training can develop your A Game in the specific drills, running and weights. I mostly train High School and some college athletes. I do get the HS Athlete ready for combines to they can get noticed by colleges. Keep up the good work the young men will benefit from the knowledge and skill sets you equipt them with. Thanks, [email protected]


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