Jeff Beals received both of his degrees from the University of Nebraska. It’s little surprise, then, that Beals, executive vice president of Omaha’s World Group Commercial Real Estate, is a long-time college football fan and that he roots for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
But Beals isn’t just a fan of Nebraska. He’s a devoted follower of college football in general. And that’s a passion that he tapped while writing his second book, Selling Saturdays: Blue Chip Sales Tips from College Football.
As the title suggests, the book provides business lessons that Beals uncovered while interviewing some of college football’s most successful coaches. While writing the book, Beals spoke with such college giants as Barry Switzer, former coach at Oklahoma; Tom Osborne, former coach at Nebraska; John Cooper, one-time leader of the football programs at The Ohio State University and Arizona State University; Hayden Fry, the long-time coach at the University of Iowa; and R.C. Slocum, winningest coach at Texas A&M University.
And what did Beals discover from these interviews? That succeeding in college football takes an incredible amount of salesmanship.
As Beals puts it: “College football coaching might be the most competitive selling situation that I have ever encountered.”
Here’s why: There are about 120 teams in college football that have 25 spots to fill each year on their rosters. At the same time, there are only maybe 200 true difference-makers that come out of high school football programs across the country. This means that college coaches are fighting over a relatively small group of players.
And each of these college teams have Web sites and forums devoted to them. Log onto these sites and you’ll be bombarded with critics wondering why their favorite college programs are recuiting certain players and not recruiting others. And when a college loses out on a prize recruit? Then the criticisms come quickly.
“People will ask, ‘Why did we lose this guy to LSU? Why did Notre Dame beat us out for this guy?'” Beals said. “There is incredible pressure under the public microscope. It is pressure like few of us ever experience.”
Because the selling that college football coaches must do is so intense, Beals figured that the game’s most successful coaches would have plenty of tips to provide to salespeople in other industries, including those plying their trade in commercial real estate.
Beals spoke to Vince Dooley, former head coach of the University of Georgia who led the Bulldogs to a football championship in 1980. Each year, Beals said, Dooley would take a family vacation, an activity to which he was commited. But also each year, about three or four days into his family trip, the nerves would sneak up on Dooley. He’d start to imagine officials from competing schools talking to the recruits that Dooley desperately wanted. Inevitably, Dooley would leave the family vacation for two or three days, contact his prized recruits, and then return to his family.
“You shake your head at some of the things that college football coaches have to do,” Beals said. “But hopefully, too, the readers will learn about salesmanship. My hope is that you learn and improve as a marketer and salesperson without realizing that you are doing it because you are having so much fun reading the book.
Selling Saturdays was released nationally Nov. 13. You can find the book at www.sellingsaturdays.com, Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble stores.