How to Sell to LeBron James

in Questioning, Sales Recommendations (presentations)

A huge sales process will be taking place soon. Several organizations will be going after the same target.

The one who gets the sale will actually end up PAYING over $22 million dollars to the buyer.

The buyer is LeBron James, and the seller is the team that sells him on choosing them.If you’re not an NBA follower I won’t bore you with the details that sports talkshow hosts have been discussing ad naseum about the places LeBron could or might go—or stay.


But I can tell you that Phoenix is one of the teams that has interest, and a legitimate shot,  therefore the local talking heads are beside themselves.

I find it quite amusing.

They speculate about  all the benefits the city and team has, and the downsides.

They have opinions about what LeBron is thinking and what he might do.

They talk about how cool it would be to just to be able to get  a meeting with LeBron so the team could pitch him.
They list all of the advantages and benefits of playing here in Phoenix that would need to be in the “pitch.”

Which is precisely the wrong approach to take.
It is quite simple.
It is a common sales scenario.
You wouldn’t want to make the same mistake that happens on bad sales calls every day.
You don’t want to go into a meeting prepared to give a “pitch,” a dog-and-pony show like many teams probably would.

“Yeah, LeBron. You’d be able to play for a good team, in a warm city in the winter, and make a lot of money. Look at this video of Phoenix.”

Lebron: “Dude, I’ve won two out of the past three championships, played in the finals the past four, I’m worth a quarter billion. And I play in Miami. That’s the one on the ocean.”

It’s pretty much ALL about what LeBron really wants, isn’t it?
There would need to be some really good, strong reasons why he would consider moving.

Just like with your customer.

So, find out.

Like a great Smart Call, you’d first want to be prepared… armed with whatever intelligence you could find.

Personally, I’d do the greatest amount of pre-call planning in the history of call planning.

I would do– or have done– an extensive check of anything and everything written and spoken by and about LeBron to get a feel for what is important to him and what he is interested in personally, professionally, athletically, and everything-ly for that matter.

Since we’re already going to be paying him 22 mill per year, I’d spend a few bucks to hire private investigators to interview everyone they could talk to who knew or ever hung out withLeBron to find out his likes, dislikes, what is he really passionate about, what makes him laugh, and cry.

I’d go to my whiteboard and match those things up with the strengths of what my organization, players, city, fans, and the entire experience here could deliver.

Then I’d create questions designed to get him talking about those areas, so that he first could explain his interest.
This would put him in a frame of mind where he’s talking about it, reminding himself of it… putting himself in the moment.  And providing us with what we’ll say in return.

I’d start generally.

“Mr. James, we appreciate that you are taking the time to meet with us and consider us. It would be an honor to have you as part of our team. There are a number of benefits that the Phoenix Suns, the city, and the experience could offer, and we know there needs to be a good fit, for both of us. We’d like to discuss what’s most important to you and then explain what we could offer that matches what you might want.”

Chit chat.

Begin generally, asking questions about motive for possibly changing teams.

“Ok, LeBron. You have said you are happy now in Miami and you have a good situation there. What are some of the factors that intrigue you about playing elsewhere.”

Listen carefully, dig deeper. Especially on the ones that mesh with our advantages.

“So tell me more about that charity work and what you’re looking to really accomplish.”
Next topic: he wouldn’t have agreed to a meeting unless there is SOME underlying reason. Find that out.

“What is it about Phoenix and the Suns that interest you in possibly playing here?”

Dig deeper on the answer.
“Tell us more about that. About playing for a coach that you admired when he played…”

If there are interests of his based on your research, that mesh with your advantages, bring them up with questions.

“You’ve had an amazing record of staying healthy for your 12 years in the league, and have said that is getting tougher to maintain as you get older. Tell us about the importance of climate and training regimen, and supporting cast as you move forward.”

After really identifying some important areas, and maybe some fringe ones, ask qualifying, temperature-checking questions.
“If you had all of those things you mentioned, could you actually see yourself playing somewhere else?”

THEN you would be ready to talk about what you could deliver. Just like a sales call. And not until then.

Use his words back to him.
“You mentioned…”
“You said you are looking for…”
Then paint a picture with him in the picture.
“What you would experience here…”
“Your son would be able to…”

Listen for agreement and buying signals. “Possession signals,” where he actually speaks as if he were here, for example,
“I’d really enjoy playing with those two young guards you have, in that style of offense.”
Oh boy, he’s seeing it.

Finally, don’t wish for the business with something weak like,
“Ok, well, thanks for visiting with us, and please keep us in mind if you consider another team.”

Leave no doubt what you want. ASK for the business.
“If we could deliver all of those things, will you become a Phoenix Sun?”

“We very much want to help you get everything you want, personally and professionally. Will you sign with us?”

It’s not that tough, right?
People do things for THEIR reasons.
They don’t care about what you want, or how great  you think your thing or gig is.
Find out EXACTLY what would cause someone to change what they are doing or what they have right now, explain how you could help them get it, or provide it for them, and ask them to do it.

With a bit more time strategizing, I could really add to this.
So, Phoenix Suns, I’d even take part of my fee in barter… those season tickets on the floor, right next to the bench come to mind.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike July 8, 2014 at 7:03 am

Art,

My friend is a huge Cleveland Cavs fan. He asked if you minded if he shares this information with THEM? 😉

Reply

Art Sobczak July 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

Sure. 😉 If he doesn’t come here to Phoenix, which it looks like there’ s no chance, it would be cool for him to go back home.

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