What I Learned about Sales from Peyton Manning

By Aidan Murphy
December 5, 2013

Last week, Jennifer Maul posted a piece about bringing your “A Game” to every meeting here, and I wanted to expand on the football analogy she used to highlight a few key learnings from one of the NFL’s all time great quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, which apply to Sales:

1. Preparation and Practice

Peyton Manning is legendary for his preparation and work-ethic, this has a positive effect on the team as a whole and has upped the level of play from his team mates.  This allows him to read defenses and the combined teamwork allows him to put the ball in the right place, where the receiver is going to be when it gets there. Jennifer drove the point home with her football analogy.

2. Technique and Inclement Conditions

As many of you know, Peyton almost had a career ending neck injury and missed an entire season because of it. When he came back, his spiral was not as tight. He has always had some trouble in cold weather, but this made it worse, especially in high winds when a tight spiral is needed to cut through it. This was evident in their loss at the Patriots with cold weather, at night with 20+ MPH wind. It is when the conditions are tough that technique plays the biggest role, and Tom Brady, being accustomed to these conditions and throwing a tighter spiral, was able to come back from a 24 point deficit and win. In sales, this “wind” can be generated from many sources, and there are techniques we can all learn to cut through it. Peyton uses other techniques to compensate for this, such as great play calling and audibles.

3. Audibles

Peyton is a master of responding to the defense by changing the play on the field, which is know as an audible. We in sales can learn a lot from this. For example, I was recently in a sales call that I was pulled into and where I had no prior interaction with the prospect. We had a plan for the meeting and were prepared based on discussions with the team who were engaged, but it became evident in the meeting that what we were planning on was not aligned with what they were looking for. I almost audibled out to another play, but I was afraid that it would appear too last minute so we went ahead as scheduled, knowing we were missing the opportunity to make a bigger impact in the meeting.

All three of these are related 

The audibles and techniques are obviously related to preparation and practice. If I had the audible ahead of time I could have easily called it and the team would be prepared for it. I now have such an audible and we have practiced it, so I will be ready to change directions based on the feedback we receive in the meeting, because as Jennifer rightly said, each interaction is precious and you never know for sure there will be another chance.

The result

While his technique has suffered, his preparation, practice, and his ability to respond to the defense via audibles have lead so far to one of the best seasons in NFL history, and the Bronco’s are favored to win the Superbowl. It will be interesting to see how his battles progress as the weather gets worse and the stakes get higher.

In subsequent posts, I will discuss more details around preparation, techniques, and audibles I am picking up and using successfully.

Photo credit: Google Images

  • audibles , best practices , Peyton Manning , practice , preparation , profitable selling , Sales Effectiveness

    Aidan Murphy

    Aidan is a Senior Pricing Consultant at Vendavo who joined the Vendavo GSD Team from IBM GBS in May 2013. He has planned and delivered custom developments, complex system-integrations and process engineering programs from conception to implementation using both agile and waterfall methodologies. During his 11 years with PwC, PwC Consulting and IBM, Aidan has worked predominately in B2B Pricing with the petroleum industry. He has led local and global delivery teams and has developed global strategies across multiple classes of business. Aidan thrives in global, enterprise environments. He relishes the challenge of making sense of and delivering solutions for complex business problems in partnership with his clients.