Professional Influence Law #8 - Touchdowns and Tacklers



Touchdowns or Tacklers?


Before the start of every NFL season, training camps open up all around the country, athletes begin to prepare for what is sure to be a demanding season of football. I have always enjoyed reading about the various training camps. Most NFL head coaches agree that the culture created in camp will determine the character of their athletes.

A few years back, an NFL head coach was evaluating a rookie player. They had simulated a pass over the middle. The rookie caught the pass and was instantly pursued by two tacklers. As the rookie was being chased toward the end zone, the head coach turned to the assistant and said, "He runs better with someone chasing him."

The best head coaches know that players are motivated differently. Some run the hardest for touchdowns and others run the hardest to avoid tacklers. One is not measurably better than the other. They are just motivated differently.

So what motivates your customers?

Do they run for touchdowns or do they run to avoid tacklers?

In reality many of our clients are motivated by touchdowns. The hope for gain is the pursuit of pleasure. Corporations regularly position their brochures and ad pieces to reflect the positive benefits of ownership. They communicate what you have to gain by investing with them.

On the other hand...

Students of PROFESSIONAL INFLUENCE have long known that it is equally important to know and understand that some clients are driven by their need to avoid potential problems and uncertainty (the tacklers). After reading this chapter, you will too!

Touchdowns and tacklers are really a metaphor for what is commonly referred to by self-help gurus and sales trainers as the pain/pleasure principle. The idea is that every decision that we make is either to gain pleasure or avoid pain.

As one person once said, "We don't move around on the couch except to change the way we feel (tacklers)."

Our decisions (all of them) are driven by the hope for gain (touchdowns) or to avoid pain (tacklers). There is a thrid motivator, however, that one is found in PROFESSIONAL INFLUENCE law #9.  

"But Mick, I filled up my car with gas today. Pain and pleasure had nothing to do with that decision."

Really? Ever run out of gas?

Go back to that time now and notice that it was a painful experience filled with uncertainty. Now notice that every time your tank gets low, a part of you remembers when you ran out of gas. Yes, you stopped to fill that tank not just because of the logical reasons, but also to avoid those tacklers.


VACATIONS:Stickman vacation lounge

Why do people go on vacation? Some want to spend time with their families and have new and exciting experiences (touchdowns). Others go on vacation because they "need to!"

"I am going to go crazy if I don't get out of here!"

"My doctor said that I could have a heart attack if I don't start taking care of myself (tacklers)."



Many of our readers sell large software applications. They have learned that some of their customers purchase software licenses so they can gain efficiency and productivity (touchdowns). The increased performance will free up manpower so they can grow their business (more touchdowns).

On the other hand, they also have customers that are concerned about downtime, maintenance problems and hackers compromising company security (tacklers).


REAL ESTATE:Realestate house sold sign 800 clr 5719-1

People may buy Real Estate because they want to be near a good school for their children, or increase the size of their current home so that they can entertain guests (touchdowns).

Others in the family will want a new home because they don't want to miss out on purchasing at the bottom of the market. By doing so they would have lost an opportunity to succeed (tacklers). Others within the family want to get out of their current home as it is not big enough (more tacklers).



Attracting new customers with positive benefits is great. On the other hand, why not hit them with both pain and pleasure? You can start using both touchdowns and tacklers in your interactions with your customers.



  • Gets great mileage
  • Looks sporty
  • Affordable


  • Avoid the pain we all feel at the pump!
  • Avoid owning a car that looks like the older hybrids (you know, the ugly ones).
  • Reduces the stress involved with making the monthly payments.


Miller Lite launched one of the most successful ad campaigns of our lifetime.Miller Lite That is a big statement considering the amount of research and advertising dollars that goes into beer commercials. Theirs was the simple, yet effective ad campaign Taste Great! Less Filling! Miller hit the customer from both sides so as not to miss anyone. Almost 40-years later and this ad still works. It should be noted that Miller Lite has experimented with other successful ads. None of them, however, have come close to the longevity and effectiveness of

"Taste Great, Less Filling!"



When I was kid there was the old Fram Oil filter commercials. The mechanic would be working on a car, he would look at the camera and simply say "Fram oil filters cost a little more but your car will run great (touchdown)… or it will break down and leave you stranded (tackler). You can pay me now or you can pay me later!"



Hit your target both ways. Motivate them with both touchdowns and tacklers!



"Bob and Mary, the stress you relieve on this vacation will ensure that you are here for many years to come, (tackler) enjoying new and exciting experiences with the kids (touchdown)."



"John, by moving forward you will stay ahead of the devastating effects of computer hackers (tackler). All the while enjoying the increased productivity and profitability of the company (touchdown)."



"Bob and Mary, The size and location of this home are sure to increase the quality of your life (touchdown). Notice now how good it feels to not be worried about the poor school district and cramped quarters of your current home (tackler)."


So remember, when preparing your sales presentation be sure to install both touchdowns and tacklers. This will balance out your presentation and ensure that you will appeal to all of your prospects.

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