A husband was just entering the shower as his wife was getting out. Unexpectedly, the front doorbell rings. So, the wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and goes to the door. Bob, their next-door neighbor is innocently standing there.
When he sees that she is wearing only a towel, Bob says, “I will give you $800 right now to drop that towel.” She thinks for a moment and realizes that $800 is a lot of money. Sure enough, she drops the towel and presents herself to him. “Nice,” he says and then hands her the $800 he had promised.
Back in the bathroom, hubby gets out of the shower and inquires, “Who was at the door?” “Bob, from next door,” she replies. “Great!” he says. “Did he bring over the $800 he owes me?”
The moral to this metaphor: Know the whole story before you act on partial information.
Why is it that deals forecasted with a 50% probability of closing rarely happen before the end of the month, while deals that are forecasted with a 90% probability, only close 50% of the time?
A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand new Jeep Cherokee appeared out of a dust cloud heading toward him. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and a YSL tie leaned out of the window and asked our shepherd: "If I can tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?" The shepherd looks at the yuppie, then at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answers, "Sure!" The yuppie parks the car, whips out his cell phone, surfs to a NASA page on the Internet where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system, scans the area, opens up a database along with some 60 Excel spreadsheets with complex formulas.
Finally, he prints out a 15 page report on his hi-tech miniaturized printer, turns around to the shepherd and says: "You have here exactly 1,586 sheep!" "That is correct. You may take one of the sheep" says the shepherd. He watches the young man select an animal and bundle it in his Cherokee.
Then the shepherd says: "If I can tell you exactly what business you are in will you give me my sheep back?" "Okay, why not!" answers the young man. "You are a consultant," says the shepherd.
"That is correct" says the yuppie. "How did you guess that?" "Easy," answers the shepherd. "You turn up here unannounced, you wanted to be paid for the answer a question I already knew the answer to, and you don’t know anything about my business…because you took my dog."
Selling continues to be the least taught profession in the world! Does anyone think that’s strange? Sales drives every company, yet most of the top business schools in the world don’t offer a sales curriculum. Somehow we rely on the thought that salespeople inherently already know “how” to sell. Maybe it’s supposed to be in our DNA?
Consider the amount of training necessary to become an architect, attorney, doctor, engineer, teacher, nurse, pharmacist or city planner. There is a minimum scholastic requirement followed by rigorous testing and continuing education. Whew! To say that you are a sales professional only requires that you print business cards.
Case in point: In the state of Georgia (my home state), you have to have a license to catch a fish, or own a dog, but you can sell many things including sophisticated products and services without any required training whatsoever. Note that I am NOT speaking out for more legislation. Just wanted to point out the parallel between skills development and your probability of success in sales.
Relationship building has always been an important aspect of selling. But, just because an eager salesperson comes calling doesn’t necessarily mean key decision makers in target accounts will want to spend quality time with them.
What’s the key to building effective relationships? Great Question! Unfortunately, however, the notion of establishing relationships has traditionally revolved around the idea of building rapport–befriending people in the hopes that they will be more likely to purchase your product or service.
The problem is most customers are already being pursued by tons of vendors who all want to become ‘buddies’ in order to make a sale. If you are selling to your best friend, then your relationship may help make them more comfortable. If not, then projecting a false sense of ‘friendliness’ actually causes people to be even more standoffish.
For example, here’s a simple exercise I often do with students in our LIVE QBS training courses. Just for fun, hold your index fingers up to your two eyebrows. Now, raise your eyebrows up and down and you will feel movement under your fingers. Alas, you have eyebrow muscles!
Next time you meet with a customer, or if you are the customer, the next time you come in contact with a salesperson, watch what happens to their eyebrows. For some mysterious reason, they shoot up into the rafters as the salesperson’s face instantly lights up, clearly excited about the possibility of making a sale.
Compare that ‘raised eyebrow’ phenomenon to your normal facial expression when you are helping someone or talking with them about a potential problem. You will notice that when a salesperson is truly adding value, their eyebrows are square on their face, and not elevated to the edge of their hairline.
The lesson is simply this. Next time you come in contact with a customer, and you are super-excited to meet them, there is a high probability that you will come off as fake, insincere, or even worse, commission-hungry.
Think about it this way. That super-enthusiastic person is NOT really you. "Hello, Mr. Customer, I am so so happy to meet you!!!" You might as well add, "but this is not really me, because my face has exploded into a giant fake smile, and if you give me a minute my eyebrows will come down to Earth and we can have a real discussion."
If you naturally have a super-charged, highly enthusiastic personality, that’s fine–be yourself. If not, then projecting a fake smile and seeming commission hungry might not create the best first impression, especially for those customers who may already be cautious of dealing with a disingenuous salesperson.
Note that it’s perfectly okay to be pleasant and cordial, but when first meeting potential customers, it’s much more important to be purposeful, relevant, credible, and valuable.
Let me guess, the company you represent is the leading provider of blah, blah, blah, with a long-standing track record and a commitment to excellence that is second to none. If so, join the club, as competitors have been trying to out-describe each other for years.
Everyone claims to have the best products, REALLY. In fact, our offerings are not only BETTER than the competion, we TRULY are the leader in the industry. Especially if you like adjectives, these three (Really, Truly, & Better) have become staples of corporate mediocrity, to the point where these words are generally discounted by potential customers as hype and fluff.
ABC Company Press Release: Our products and services are truly the world’s best. In fact, our new launch offers better features and experts say they will really change the way customers do business.
…a few days later…
XYZ Company Press Release: Truly, we can now say that our products and services are the world’s finest. Our product offerings are better and they really will change the way customers do business.
Other words and phrases that should be stricken from the sales vernacular include paradigm-shift, industry-leading, cutting-edge, groundbreaking, touching-base, game-changer, and “coffee is for closers.”
When this 47 year-old unknown woman named Susan Boyle walks out onto the stage and fulfills her dream right in front of your eyes, it unleashes a spirit within to think, “If she can fulfill her destiny, then maybe, just maybe, there’s much more to be written about my own story as well.”
Whatever you’re doing at this moment, put it aside for six minutes and this video will not only brighten your day, it may change your life. Click here to start.
I came across an email on my computer sent to me several years ago by Eileen Kennedy, Assistant to the President while I was selling for NetFrame Systems. Eileen passed away just a few weeks afterward. Definitely worth re-reading!
I’ve learned that the reason I liked my teacher was because she cried when we sang "Silent Night"…Age 6.
I’ve learned that you can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk…Age 7.
I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back…Age 9.
I’ve learned that just when I get my room the way I like, Mom makes me clean it up…Age 13.
I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up…Age 14.
I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me…Age 15.
I’ve learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice…Age 24.
I’ve learned that brushing my child’s hair is one of life’s great pleas ures…Age 26.
I’ve learned that wherever I go, the world’s worst drivers have followed me there…Age 29.
I’ve learned that if someone says unkind things about me, I must live life so that no one believes it…Age 39.
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly, but just don’t know how to show it…Age 41.
I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a little card…Age 44.
I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his need to blame others…Age 46.
I’ve learned that children and grandparents are natural allies…Age 47.
I’ve learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours…Age 49.
I’ve learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone…Age 50.
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles three things: a rainy day, losing a sale; and tangled Christmas tree lights…Age 51.
I’ve learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills…Age 52.
I’ve learned that regardless of the relationship you had with your parents, you will miss them terribly after they’re gone…Age 53.
I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life…Age 58.
I’ve learned that life sometimes does give you a second chance…Age 62.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back…Age 64.
I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you…Age 65.
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision…Age 66.
I’ve learned that everyone can use a prayer…Age 72.
I’ve learned that it pays to believe in miracles. I’ve seen several…Age 73.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one…Age 82
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch-holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back…Age 85.
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn…Age 92.
Pass this on to people you care about. Sometimes they just need a little something to make them smile.
You don’t need to be defensive on price—we already made this point. Very few people buy the product or service that has the absolute lowest price. What they buy is value, seeking the biggest bang for their buck. This includes evaluating their solution alternatives and making the best decision.
The challenge for salespeople is getting prospects to compare products in an equitable way. Selling professional services is a good example. Why would anyone want to pay in excess of a hundred dollars per hour for a good accountant, when they could have their taxes done at the local H&R Block office for $69.95? Likewise, why would it make sense to pay two or three times as much for an experienced software analyst when you can hire a bench technician from a local computer outlet for cheap?
It’s especially difficult to quantify benefits with intangibles. From the prospect’s point of view, is it better to pay less money for a less valuable resource, or to pay more for the appropriate level of expertise? Since customers cannot actually see the intangible (in this case, a service) before it’s delivered, they often struggle with making the best decision. That’s why, when my QBS clients ask me to help their salespeople justify the premiums they charge for a higher level of expertise, I suggest they should negotiate like a dentist. Here’s a cute little parable that illustrates my point.
One day, a dentist is examining a new patient in the chair.
“Hmmm,” the dentist says after reviewing the x-rays.
“What’s wrong?” asks the patient, sensing the dentist’s concern.
“It looks like we need to pull a bum tooth,” the dentist answers.
“Oh no!” the patient grimaces. “How much will that cost?”
“About a hundred dollars,” the dentist responds.
“How bad will it hurt?” the patient moaned.
“Not bad. It only takes a minute,” the dentist replies.
“Wait a second. You’re going to charge me a hundred bucks for something that only takes a minute?” the patient challenges.
“Well…how long would you like it to take?” asks the dentist.
To justify the value of your product or service, sometimes it’s necessary to change the prospect’s perspective. Would you rather pay a little more to have a tooth pulled quickly and painlessly, or some other alternative that is less expensive, but comes with a much higher personal cost?