By Todd A. Smith

The expectations on how a product will perform or service completed will obtain the first sale for a company. The results will determine how efficiently a company earns a second sale.

 The referee has placed the football between the hash marks, and the clock is ticking, the defensive players are set, the offensive huddle breaks and the players take their positions. The excitement is building, the quarterback begins calling the signals, the center hikes the ball, and the play starts. The linemen clash as the defense aggressively moves towards the quarterback, drifting back. The front line is standing tall much like a brick wall. The ends are racing downfield in pre-established routes, and the backs are drifting forward towards the quarterback with the anticipation of taking the hand-off and plowing through the front line.

The hand-off is flawless. The running back begins to pick up speed, heading towards the hole in the line. A hole strategically created by the strength of the offensive front lineman. Out of nowhere, a defensive lineman hits the running back hard; he doesn’t go down. Instead, the ball pops out and begins to bounce around the field.

Everyone scrambles to jump on the ball, defensive and offensive players alike. For the offense, it is to mitigate the damage and try to avoid losing the ball or losing yardage. The defense is working hard scrambling to jump on the ball to take advantage of an offensive blunder.

No one is happy the ball has been fumbled, and one can only assume the offensive coaches on the sideline are seething, but at this specific moment, everyone is in damage control. A fumble in football may be a footnote after the game, or it could cause a team to lose the game. In business fumbles, miscues or missed challenges can have the same consequences as they come in all shapes and sizes.

At times they can be small and quickly resolved, such as when the incorrect product is shipped, and the company immediately ships the correct product. In today’s world of overnight shipping services, the right product can be sent and delivered in twenty-four hours. The damage to the company is the cost of the shipping of the new product and return shipping costs of the incorrect product.

Fumbles within a business whether they be large or small can have more significant consequences and at times long-lasting results, such as losing a long-term client, a reduction in your market share and at times can be the downfall of an entire business.

A key to not fumbling is prevention. If one looks hard at a business one can visualize where fumbles have the possibility of occurring and work hard to prevent them.

 Too cavalier: In football, it’s a player that holds the ball too loosely and the slightest hit will dislodge it, or even more embarrassing, when he drops the ball in an open field. In business, it occurs when a company, employee, or a salesperson takes a client for granted. A client, the company, has had for a long time and believed they will always remain a client. Continually work as hard to keep an existing client as one does to obtain a new client.

Blindsided: It happens when a ball carrier, quarterback or receiver does not see or hear a defensive player coming and is hit so hard the ball unexpectedly pops out of his grasp. In business there is a sudden shift in the marketplace for your product or service or, the manner in which your company operates is becoming antiquity.  Consistently stay informed and knowledgeable on the direction of your industry including evolving technologies that will keep your business relevant and running efficiently.

Inability to accept a handoff: In football, the quarterback with the ball held tightly in his hands stretches his arms out for the running back to receive the handoff and the next moment the ball is bouncing around on the field. Up to the point of the errant handoff, everyone has executed their assignments correctly. In business, the fulfillment of client’s contract is frequently handled by many different persons or departments, some of which could be billing, shipping, final manufacturing, and the list goes on and on. Somewhere, through the process, there is an internal breakdown which adversely affects the client.  Every person is as responsible for the satisfaction of the client as much as the person who has secured the contract. Always be reviewing your internal controls and the efficiency in which each department operates for the total satisfaction of the client.

Preventing fumbles is the responsibility of the person carrying the ball. They must be able to understand the importance of knowing how to correctly hold onto the ball no matter what may transpire during a play. The same is true in business. When people understand the details of their professions and the responsibility they have, and they know how to perform them flawlessly, even down to the smallest of details, fumbles will very rarely happen.

Todd A. Smith. Mr. Smith is actively involved in both residential and commercial real estate finance and commercial real estate sales. He has been a principal in an award winning building restoration business, has preciously taught sales training and peak performance principals and has written and published three books. Currently he is the Vice President of the Board of Directors of Community Hope. Community Hope is a New Jersey based not-for-profit providing housing and support services to those suffering from mental illness and the homeless veteran population. He has been a guest lecture at Montclair State University and Bergen County Community College, numerous trade associations and Chambers of Commerce.