OK, I realize it’s bowl season, so let’s just get this out in the open right now: I love watching football; I’m just not that into college ball.
Credit: Alfred Benway
Maybe it’s because during my undergraduate career I worked at a bar that was stumbling distance from a dry, but very popular football college stadium, whose team was mired in scandal that my tuition helped pay for.
Or maybe it’s the professionalism of NFL players, or the closer games, or the fact that I always seem to be busy on Saturdays. Regardless, I was a little worried I wouldn’t “get” Jeff Beals’ new book, Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips From College Football.
On the contrary, I really enjoyed learning more about college ball (without having to actually watch it). Beals’ first five chapters are almost exclusively stories from the gridiron and the recruitment trips that back it up.
While the stories are interesting, the initial advice Beals pulls from them lacks the specificity that leads to inspiration. “Adapting to unfamiliar surroundings” and “keeping up with the changing game” are vague action items that lack the “easy-to-implement sales and marketing techniques” Beals promises in his preface. Later in that same preface, Beals encourages readers to picture themselves in the situations he describes throughout the book and “imagine how the situation relates to the marketing and sales work you do.”
Wait. If coming up with my own brilliant analogies of how your sports stories relate to me is my job, I’d rather read a Vince Lombardi biography.
Don’t get me wrong; I was genuinely interested in learning why left tackle is such a difficult position for coaches to fill, what the inside of a team’s “war room” looks like, or that the NCAA has an actual recruitment exam to keep coaches constantly aware of the rules for contacting players. While the book does provide anecdotes that underscore the importance of attributes such as good listening skills, it doesn’t hand out any concrete advice until chapter six.
Beals starts trotting out his original ideas around page 100 and doesn’t stop until the end of the book. He begins with a smart way to go about the sometimes repetitive job of branding: Use the most interesting part of your job to describe your expertise and your place in the market. I also thought his three-tiered goals of networking had some of the specificity lacking in earlier chapters. The next chapter also goes into some depth about finding a sales strategy based on an honest assessment of your market and your place in it.
The book is generally heavy on strategies for securing clients (which, for coaches, is the acquisition of blue chip players) and hiring the best (in college football: getting excellent assistant coaches and recruiters on the payroll). But Beals also touches on leadership, training, prospecting, advertising, listening skills, closing, competition, and more. He even has a whole chapter on the sales presentation. While convincing a 17-year-old Texan to commit to playing for Northwestern is significantly different from what happens in the average listing presentation, the chapter still contains some useful nuggets for real estate professionals who are relatively new to presenting pitches.
In all, this is a great book for a salesperson who loves college football. It’s a decent pick for a salesperson who likes football in general and is either new to sales or has not read a lot of sales tips books. Just keep in mind that that the first 100 pages are astro-fluff.
Interested in more books about the intersection of sales and sports? Check out these related reviews: