The Blind Side for Sales


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You may remember the book and later the movie, The Blind Side. The football term refers to the offensive tackle that protects the quarterback’s blind (non-throwing) side from defensive linemen who are rushing in hopes of sacking the quarterback.

[This marks two posts in a row with a football metaphor. What’s happening to me?]

Last week my car was in the shop for service and as always, the Lexus dealer loaned me an RX350. This was a brand new model and had a new feature that I couldn’t leave alone! Both side mirrors had orange warning alerts that would light up whenever a car was in the driver’s blind spots. That has to be one of the most awesome safety features introduced since anti-lock breaks! It provided me with confidence – worry-free lane changes!

Of course it got me thinking about selling and how great it would be if our salespeople had this feature. Every time a salesperson got in a blind spot an alarm would go off to prevent her from taking a turn, going down the wrong path, or leaving the road they were on. It would force them to ask another question before they could proceed. How cool would that be?

If we were doing the technical work on this new feature we would have to identify all of the scenarios where the alarm would be triggered – points from which our salespeople would temporarily or permanently be operating in the dark with a given prospect or opportunity – otherwise it would be a useless feature.

I’ll get us started with the first five and you can contribute some more:

  1. The prospect claims to have the money or money is no object
  2. The Contact claims to be the Decision Maker and doesn’t need to get it approved
  3. They claim to be happy with their current vendor
  4. They would love to get a proposal from us
  5. They say they are going to act very quickly on this.
Can you come up with one or more of the next 45 scenarios? They won’t always be something a prospect might say. They can also be situations like, the salesperson is calling too low in the organization and the contact won’t make an introduction to the decision maker and won’t get the decision maker involved.
Your turn.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. This is a good start – though the exercise quickly gets out of hand. The ‘blind side’ possibilities are literally endless. The resulting nervousness causes salespeople and managers alike to want to “know everything we can” about prospects, which is a recipe for failure. It’s indiscriminate, and there aren’t enough minutes in the day to carry this out. The key is knowing the right things, as your mirror blind-spot metaphor aptly illustrates. I wrote about this challenge in a 2012 blog, "Know Everything You Can About Your Prospects!” – An Exercise in Futility.”

    I recommend to clients to regularly review selling opportunities post-event – what some people call win/loss reviews, though I don’t like that term. In a post-event review, management asks themselves, “what do we now know that we needed to know prior to the prospect’s decision?”

    This can be a difficult soul-searching exercise, but an important one, as it exposes situations and events that are many times (though not always) avoidable in the buying/selling engagement. From there, the selling culture must reward sharing of the information versus hoarding it, as is often done.

  2. Thanks again Andrew.

    Certainly, if we apply all possible scenarios to all possible salespeople calling on all possible prospects – it is indeed ridiculous. But I see this as a coaching opportunity. Follow along…

    Suppose we are working with a sales force and we narrow the list down to those scenarios that occur to us and our business.

    From there, on a salesperson by salesperson basis, we identify the scenarios that have from time to time caused that salesperson to move forward instead of backwards, engage resources rather than aborting, or develop happy ears instead of healthy skepticism. Depending on the salesperson, we might have a half dozen or so varying scenarios that they need to be alert for.

    Then, rather than on a post-call debrief, the sales manager incorporates the warning scenarios into a pre-call strategy session, preparing the salesperson in the event that any or all of those particular scenarios arise on this particular call.

  3. We’re talking about the same thing – whether you identify the scenarios from tacit knowledge, or by taking a systematic approach to risk identification as I am recommending, the important idea is to recognize selling risks before they bite you in the rear.

    Over time, managers need to recognize patterns, and if those patterns are negative, they must figure out how to alter them. That involves coaching individual salespeople, as you advocate, but it could also require upstream changes in sales strategy, lead generation tactics, lead scoring and prospect qualification, and marketing.


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