This past month all eyes were turned to LeBron James, and the forthcoming announcement of his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even if you are not a big NBA fan, you were probably aware of the drama behind the situation. It was just four years ago that James left the Cavs to sign with the Miami Heat. His departure at the time from “The Mistake on the Lake”, (I know that's a Steelers fan thing, sorry, just couldn't help it), was met with much outrage from fans in Cleveland. Footage of people burning his Jersey was seen on the news everywhere. Cavaliers ownership at the time was also guilty of issuing spiteful words in social media toward the basketball all star. The man was viewed as a traitor.
Getting LeBron James to say “Yes” and sign on the dotted line and play in Cleveland again has many important lessons for us to observe.
They forgot that they didn't like him. This is very important. Before they could put together a pitch, the leadership in the Cavaliers organization had to get over being spurned four years ago and go after the deal as if it never happened. People do have short memories. Simply because you and a customer had a bad experience a few years ago does not mean you can't start anew right now. This is the one area of sales where having a bad memory is an advantage.
They pitched him a deal that nobody else would or could do. Allowing James to sign a two year deal for a reported 42.1 million dollars that also allows him to become a free agent next summer at first seems like a ridiculous offer, and certainly a bad decision for Cleveland. But, when you look at the fact that that the NBA collective bargaining agreement is up in 2017, the agreement became attractive to James because it allowed him to keep his long term options open at that point in time. In fact, it was the one pitch that would get the deal done, the perfect scenario to bring him to northeast Cleveland. It wasn't so much about the total amount of money as it was giving him flexibility in a shorter span of time. There is little doubt that the increased attention, ticket sales, potential playoff appearances, increased merchandise sales and other new revenue streams that Lebron will generate for the team and ultimately the city, will offset that investment. Accommodating a prospect's unique situation instead of selling them what you have, or the traditional way of doing things, can make unthinkable transactions become done deals.
The organization had other benefits. Even on this level, it ain't always about the money. Cleveland had positioned itself perfectly by adding in quality young players over the past few years, that with the addition of James, became a real contender. Now, add that in with the fact that the thought of winning a title in his hometown, in a city that hasn't had a national championship of any sort since 1964, and forever becoming part of sports folklore was impossible for James to resist, and a unique advantage that only Cleveland could offer. Your business has attributes above and beyond monetary issues to offer potential buyers as well. Exploit them, just as Cleveland did.