Football is a performance-based business and in that aspect, it is not much different from sales. While football players use a helmet and shoulder pads to perform, sales reps use power point presentations and sales pitches. Cornerback Darrell Revis has used his skillset to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL and sales reps could learn a few things from how he became the best at what he does.

The Art of Negotiation

Revis is just as famous for his holdouts and contract negotiations as he is for locking down NFL wide receivers. He has successfully negotiated five contracts during his NFL tenure, but his latest run has been the most impressive. In March of this year, he signed his latest contract that guaranteed him $39 million. This year, he will receive a guaranteed $16 million, then $17 million in 2016 and another $6 million in 2017.

Since 2013, Revis has been able to secure a total of $68 million in guaranteed money. Over the span of his first 10 seasons, Revis will have earned $117 million. What makes that so impressive is that he is not a quarterback and rarely ever touches the football. And to make things even more impressive, Revis did not sign long-term deals in the early part of his career. He simply got better and better and cornered the market on being arguably the best defensive player in the game. 

Sales reps could learn a great deal from how Revis has negotiated his deals. Revis has been able to thwart off a sales tactic known as 'the flinch'. When a salesperson quotes a price to a customer, a popular to reaction is to actually 'flinch' at the price with a visible reaction because it is too high. Revis held out after asking for lofty salaries and didn't care when NFL teams flinched. Sales reps can follow that lead and remain unafraid to change their asking price. Many customers will use 'the flinch' as a tactic to see how a sales prep responds. 

Revis was also unafraid to slow down the negotiation process. He was aware that NFL teams wanted him as he was a valuable solution. When sales reps know they are selling something that is in demand, there is no need to rush the process. This could mean that reps can set up a few meetings before even setting a price or starting on the negotiation process. 

Revis also mastered the art of knowing when to walk away from a deal. There are going to be offers made by prospects that force sales reps to scratch their heads in uncertainty. Are those deals really worth it in the long run? If there is any hesitancy when answering that question, it's not a bad move to walk away from that offer. Revis went through several rounds of negotiations and because he was such a valuable commodity, he was able to negotiate the deal he wanted. Sales reps should not be afraid to say 'no' every now and then.

How to be the best

Revis did not negotiate tens of millions of dollars in contracts just because he was a smooth negotiator. He negotiated those deals because he is the best at what he does. There is no cornerback in the NFL that has the on-field resume Revis has put together. But he has done it in a way that allows him to play the role of the aggressor.

Revis plays defense, although that does not mean he is not on the offensive as a cornerback. Taking receivers completely out of the game does not happen by allowing anyone else to dictate the tempo of one-on-one matchups. Sales reps can mimic that technique. However, controlling a sale should not be considered as a form of manipulation. Sales reps who maintain control are often the best at what they do.

Many sales are actually lost because of no decision at all and in those instances, sales reps are without control. The best sales reps know how to tight rope the fine line between being aggressive and assertive. That means learning to be comfortable in the midst of tension. It also means not giving in to every customer demand. Sales reps who are in control are also unafraid to press clients and that could even include the topic of pricing. 

Not-so quietly kept secrets of success

Revis does not just show up on Sundays and automatically produce. There is an immensity of preparation involved with being the game's best cornerback. His work ethic is second to none. Revis learns about his opponents in great detail with extensive film study and even goes as far to spend a lot of time with his own wide receivers on road trips. That enables him to have a better understanding of his opponent. 

That kind of approach is not much different when trying to close a sale. The more a sales rep knows about a prospect, the more advantageous it will be.

Think of closing a sale like winning a big game. In order to win, it is vital to really know a prospect. That will enable sales reps to come up with personalized solutions while also breaking down barriers of unfamiliarity. It also means going above and beyond what an ordinary sales rep will do. Attending prospects' personal events, providing ongoing correspondence and offering actual face time are all ways to go that extra mile.

That will not only benefit sales reps now, but it will also help in the future when it comes to referrals. A happy client will always be willing to share their sales experience with other prospects, which could mean more sales victories in the future.

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