The Protect the Plate Analogy

Bigger Picture

For most salespeople, their goal is to sell, sell and sell to reach their individual sales goals.

This is not the case for Newtown Athletic Club’s salespeople, thanks to the “Protect the Plate” analogy championed by Denise Watkins, membership sales director. Using this analogy, she encourages salespeople to focus on the success of the club as a whole, over their individual goals.

“It essentially means you have to look at the bigger picture,” said Watkins.

Watkins came up with the analogy after trying to explain the importance of the bigger picture to an associate who was a huge sports fan. “I used the ‘Protect the Plate’ analogy as I knew she’d understand it,” Watkins explained. “It became a very important phrase that we now use in the office, and is a model for the department.”

The analogy is important, said Watkins, because Newtown’s salespeople are the primary “lead catchers” for the business. If they lose a sale, or don’t help a prospect in an appropriate way, that impacts the entire club. “If membership is not doing well, all the other areas of the club suffer as well,” she added.

To “Protect the Plate” at your club, meaning the bigger picture, Watkins advised figuring out your objective, and then using an analogy, approach or concept each individual salesperson can understand.

For Watkins, drawing inspiration from how she taught her children, proved to be successful. “Know your salespeople, know what makes them tick, what inspires them and what motivates them individually,” said Watkins. “Each of my children I could not approach the same way. I had to use different angles and different lessons. That’s the way it is in sales, too.”

Watkin’s “Protect the Plate” Tips: 

Help your salespeople connect the dots on why a concept is important. “Connections are important when you’re trying to coach someone — sometimes you have to break things down like you would a gymnastics coaching move.”

Educate. “Educate anybody that’s in sales on the meaning of what you’re doing, and have them always focus on the mission. Our mission is changing lives and making a difference. That’s what I try to instill with the salespeople here.”

Stress the importance of the bigger picture. “At Newtown, we are the primary lead catchers. It’s important that we never lose anything for the entire club, not just for membership sales. So we all have to have a better idea on what the business means and how important it is to just grab every lead that’s on the phone, in the door and send them in the right direction.”

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