Sales Expert Rob Cornilles Has Some Helpful tips for Anyone Wanting To Up Their Sales Game
Rob Cornilles is the founder of Game Face, a consulting company that delivers corporate and sports sales training. When he started his career in sales, he was in a challenging spot.
Rob didn’t have any experience in sales, but he landed a job working on and then managing the sales team of the Los Angeles Clippers — which Sports Illustrated once called the “losingest team in history.”
Among other duties, he was responsible for promoting season tickets for a basketball team that desperately needed to hold onto fans during a losing streak.
Starting his sales career while the team was doing poorly, gave Rob the know-how to work in other industries.
“Name one other industry that has an entire section of a newspaper and multiple television networks dedicated to telling the world where you're screwing up,” Rob says on an episode of The Sales Vitamin Podcast.
“There are a lot of challenges around the sports industry. When you have a blemish, everybody can see it. And not to mention the fact that everyone seems to be passionate about your product, which is great when you're winning, but painful when you're losing.”
But Rob persisted and took an alternative approach to ticket sales that focused more on human connection and less on watching your favorite team win. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was also building the foundation of his business.
Today, Game Face has almost 400 clients that range from major league sports teams to nonprofits, all of whom have benefitted from the unique sales training Rob and his team provide.
And in the process, Rob learned how empowering selling can be.
“I quickly learned that, with the right intent and a philosophy behind it, selling isn’t just a transactional nine-to-five chore. It’s so rewarding,” Rob says. “And not just rewarding for you — it enables and empowers people who have finally discovered a way to get the results they’re looking for through your product or service. You can really change lives.”
4 ‘Sales Vitamins’ out of Rob’s playbook
✅ Be the best at what you do right now
Rob says that as he advanced in his career with the Clippers, he started wondering about his next opportunity. But he wasn’t quite sure how to find it. “I was too busy keeping my head down, just trying to be as successful as I could with the job I was given,” he says reflecting on that time in his career.
That approach wasn’t just good for his current employer, it ultimately helped Rob advance professionally: Other sports teams watched what he was doing, and they started calling him to see if he could start working with them, too. Eventually, this led to the creation of Game Face.
Rob says a lot of people in sales — especially young reps — are often worried about planning their next career move instead of focusing on what they’re doing right now. “The world will find you,” he says. “If you do good work for a client, they can't help but tell other people about it.”
👌 Your product isn’t perfect — and that’s okay
Rob’s experience with the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1990s shows that you don’t need a popular product to be a great salesperson.
Even if your product is great — there is always something that could be fixed. As a seller, you need to accept that so you can get down to focusing on what your product actually does.
“Every product is objectionable. I don’t care what people say about their product: I can always tell them it’s too expensive, or I don’t like the model, or the color or the size. I’ve got objections for every product,” Rob says. “By focusing on the product, you’re creating an uphill battle for yourself. Instead, focus on the results of your product, because that’s not objectionable.”
While he was working with the Clippers, Rob changed the narrative. He didn’t try to turn people into Clippers fans: He told them other reasons they should be going to their games, like forming connections and memories with the people they came with.
“When people come to any sporting event, they want to obtain an outcome from that event with the person they’re with, more than watching a win,” Rob says. “I could use this thing that we’ll call ‘the LA Clippers basketball’ to help you accomplish something that’s more important to you.”
⌛ Change your definition of urgency
Rob says the default in sales is to act with urgency — and that urgency means rushing a sale at any cost. But instead of doing whatever it takes to rush a sale, he says salespeople should focus on helping customers get the results they want sooner rather than later.
“Whenever prospects or clients feel pressured, they immediately view it as the salesperson is someone who is just trying to make a commission or become salesperson of the week. When urgency is felt by the customer [in the sales process], there’s immediate pushback,” Rob says.
“As a salesperson, you need to be able to communicate with potential clients that you can help them deliver the result they want today rather than tomorrow. Not that you can’t get it to them tomorrow, but that it would behoove them to achieve that result sooner.”
Pressuring a prospective client into buying your product can feel slimy. But Rob says that once you communicate how your product can help them get their desired result more quickly, they’ll be grateful for the speed of the sale.
❌ Avoid ‘dead-end words’
Choosing language wisely is so important in any sales conversation. Rob says there are many words that salespeople use by habit, maybe even picking them up from movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street.” But those words can handcuff their ability to be successful.
When making sales calls, most people do the “typical salesperson thing” and follow a script, minimizing the importance of the call or asking prospects questions that immediately make them aware you’re a salesperson.
“Selling is not telling — selling is sharing,” Rob says. “And I suggest that salespeople say things like ‘I want to share with you,’ or ‘I want to introduce something to you.’ When you use those words, it sounds much more inviting, warmer, and more compelling.”
Rob says that “dead-end words” are the phrases that will result in prospects providing one-word answers, which isn’t very helpful. Instead, you want them to monologue to you, providing the information you’ll need to justify what you want to propose to them.
“All proposals and presentations should simply be a reflection of what the customer has already told you. You should want to share with them the very things they said they wanted, showing them you have the solution,” he says.
By opening with language that invites clients to share what they really want, you set yourself up for success in giving them something they’re happy with.
👉 Find out more about Rob Cornilles and Game Face by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org, listening to the Game Face Execs podcast, or checking out his book, “The Sales Game Changer.”
👉 Check out even more great sales tips for sales leadership and sales management by subscribing to The Sales Vitamin Podcast.