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Pat Wilson

Don Shula – My Opportunity to Spend Time with a Legend

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Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.”

– Don Shula

 

Legendary Coach Don Shula passed away at 90 years old earlier this week. After a fine playing career in the 1950s, at 33 years old he was named head coach of the Baltimore Colts – the youngest in NFL history at the time. He went on to win more games than any coach in the league’s history – 347 victories in all over both regular season and playoffs – including six appearances and two Super Bowl championships. His storied 1972 Miami Dolphins championship squad is still the only team in NFL history to go undefeated through an entire season.

I once had the privilege and opportunity of spending about 90 minutes – mostly one on one, with the great man. He was the Keynote Speaker at an association annual conference in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay in 2008. The Coach was staying at the other tower (and my association client’s staff was almost all non-sports fans, as my luck would have it). That morning at their staff meeting, a scheduling challenge was announced, and they asked if anyone would volunteer to personally go to the Coach’s hotel room, and escort him from there, across the casino to the Convention area, and all the way to the green room. Not being officially on staff, I waited for a second or two.

Then I jumped up.

At his hotel room, he was deciding on a tie. He held two up to his shirt, but he had the look that said he did not want to wear one. He asked me if most of the men in the conference wore ties? Even though it was probably 70% yes, I told him it was “50/50”. He left both ties on his bed, going with just a sports jacket. I told the Coach what he wanted to hear.

Coach Shula was 78 and had a bad hip, so the walk took 30 minutes with two or three sit-down breaks. During the walk, he began to share stories with me. What struck me most along with his unpretentiousness was his humanity and grace.

We arrived at the greenroom and had plenty of time to kill, so I stayed with him. He continued sharing stories and let me ask him anything that came to mind about the NFL, Baltimore Colts (as a player and as the coach), the Dolphins, childhood idols Bob Griese and Larry Csonka, quarterbacks in general, the ’83 draft, Dan Marino-John Elway (he said Elway was the best ever, better even than Dan because of his legs…), Jimmy Johnson (his successor as Dolphins coach, he was candid but kind). He demonstrated great pride mixed with humility.

 

Coach Shula & Pat Wilson

 

With Coach Shula’s passing, it occurred to me how fortunate I was to be in the right place at the right time that day. An unmitigated honor and a great memory – the chance to spend time with a true legend, who also happened to be a very nice man.

 

You take on what’s right in front of you. You want to do the best you can with the opportunities that you have.”

–  Don Shula

Finish Line Image

The Prospect “Sprint” Roundup: Seeking a “Yes” or “No” – NOW!

By Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

We’ve all been at a stage in our sales cycle where we “cherish” names on a list.

Let’s say that our sales cycle is for an annual event that is coming up in 60-90 days. For months we have had steady closes, and we are closing in on our goal of a sell-out. Meanwhile, we’ve engaged with hundreds of targets and leads, and have cultivated an ever-growing prospect list, of perhaps dozens. Often, we have developed personal relationships with many prospects after multiple conversations and exchanges. We have our prospects listed and graded with an assessment of their likelihood to close. The list has grown, and we truly, sincerely believe – because these people have personally given us their positive indications. We trust them that they will come through. Yet they have not – yet!

It’s Time: De-personalize, Stop Cherishing, and Stop Trusting      

The best mindset at this late cycle stage is to go into full-on robot mode (de-personalize your thinking about these fast “friends”) and treat any and all Prospects the same! It is time to expect that each and every one can give you their answer now.  Whether they’ve been graded as “Verbal” or at 75%, 50%, 25%, or 10% – it is time to seek out a specific answer – now.

Sprint Week: Risk Getting a No

  1. Canvas each name on your list that is still alive. It is time to be even more direct than ever.
  2. Relationship time is over.
  3. Set your goal for Monday and Tuesday for contacting all accounts personally via email.
  4. Call Days: Call after the email has been sent, make sure to call each one, by Thursday.
  5. Leave voicemails with the same elements that are in your email.
  6. For Live conversations, stick to the direct – are you signing up today or tomorrow?

Get the No’s Now and Determine your “True Action” List

  1. Build in a Yes or No question. (Will your team be signing up this week?)
  2. Put each prospect “on notice”.
  3. Give them a deadline for action, actually several.

For an event that is less than three months out, relish getting a No! It pares down your list, and enables you to narrow your focus and activity to only deal with the Prospects who verify pending action. You are assessing reality and feasibility – theirs and yours…are they truly “actionable”?

There are multiple real-world urgent reasons why it behooves and benefits them to give you a Yes or No now. Come up with your own list…here are some samples:

  • Space is selling out; now is the last chance to guarantee a spot (or a best spot).
  • Logistics: Deadlines for their teams’ travel plans for ___(City). (This is an acid-test for their reality.)
  • Deadline to be included in the Show Directory (or Show App). Give a date.
  • Deadline for badge registration (perhaps rate increases). Give a date.
  • The Hotel room block selling out. Give a date.

A note about “Maybes” or “We don’t know”

Unless they tell you it is under review and they will have an answer by  ____(near-term date) – which you should ascertain – maybes and “I don’t know” are “hollow” at this stage and indicate that the person is not the decision maker. In that case you should kick your last chance inquiry to a higher-up or to additional contacts if you have them. Yes – risk losing your “friend” – it may actually get you a Yes or No.

Or simply move on.

By the end of your “Sprint Week” you will have a much smaller prospect list. You will have knocked off the No’s (for this year) and trimmed the dead weight. However, you will also have re-heated or driven quite a few would-be names on your list to take earlier action. You’ll be in a much better position, not only because of the resulting sales that are coming in. You will gain full control of your time and a razor-sharp focus for the final key stretch run, enabling you to optimize your late stage sales cycle.