What does playing a game of pool have to do with sales?

Have you ever played a game of pool?

You know, on a snooker table?

Whilst the objective is to sink all 7 of your balls and then the black 8-ball, it’s unlikely you’ll be achieving that straight off the break.

The workplace equivalent of playing pool

Whilst some of us may prefer to be down at the pub playing a game of pool, there is one great business lesson we can learn and apply from this game of strategy.

Consider the following situations: negotiating a deadline, making a sale, asking your boss for flexible working arrangements, winning a tender, asking for a pay-rise, influencing a restructure.

It’s unlikely that your very first conversation with your decision maker is going to end up with a pat on the back and a license to go crazy with your recommendation or request.

Instead, you should expect to be met with some possible resistance or even straight-out rejection.

This is the same thing as shooting your ball for the pocket and missing. Or in some cases, shooting for the pocket and the ball flying right off the table.

The business strategy

Change your expectations.

Rather than trying to get your “yes” at the first request, ask yourself instead, “what is my next step to get closer to what I am trying to achieve?”

Here are some examples to consider:

Situation What is my next step?
Negotiating a huge deadline change and bringing it forward Researching the tangible benefits by bringing forward the deadline and the potential losses by leaving it where it is
Making a sale Ask about the customer’s decision making criteria
Asking for flexible working arrangements Speaking with your manager informally regarding workload or family commitments
Bidding for a tender Invite the decision makers to a company event to build a relationship and establish trust
Asking for a pay rise Request an additional performance-based discussion at the end of the next quarter to demonstrate your success
Influencing a restructure Presenting a case study of how a restructure can positively impact employee engagement

As the game of pool continues, the strategy is to sink each ball and if you can’t sink one, just inch each one closer to the pocket when it’s your shot. Eventually, you’ll have them all lined up with nowhere else to go but in a pocket.

If you conduct your negotiations in the same manner, you’ll have a better mindset for approaching all kinds of negotiations and business outcomes.

Julia Ewert – Bold Conversations™

Helping to navigate high-stake conversations, leading to better performing teams and brilliant leadership.

I help organisations, senior executives, employees and individuals by teaching how to strategise and plan high-stake conversations to enhance their communication, which boosts your bottom line. Ask me how.


Helping organisations and individuals to win with their words and become outstanding negotiators and salespeople.
If you would like to benefit from increased sales, more closed deals, enhanced leadership and better performing teams, you can contact me here.