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Blog

Efficient selling meets the new world order

I grew up like most of us did. I learned that there is essentially nothing new under the sun when it comes to human relations. We relabel it; we package old ideas and sell them as new. People are people after all; right? And, so I believed for almost all of my adult life. I listened to a new book over the last few weeks that changed my perspective in a couple of important ways. The book is “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. This is easily the most complex sales book I have ever read/listened to. Many thoughts, many examples, many conclusions, all carefully laid out for you to understand and implement. Somewhere between the old prospect, qualify, interact and close methodology and Pink’s version of a Brave New World is where I fall right now (subject to change) and I wanted to share some of his key concepts that I took away on first listen.

  • The information revolution, and particularly social media, have made a profound change in both consumer and business to business selling by empowering your customer with knowledge, advice and alternatives never before available so easily. From technocrats to the 80 year old granny at home, all have access to the world; and they are doing so frequently.
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five monkeysGail Riegelmayer is a close friend and a business coach. She wrote the following metaphor that seeks to explain why we sometimes institutionalize dumb policies and procedures. I hope you read along and enjoy this piece as much as I did.

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, and all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon the monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

And that, my friend, is how a company policy begins.

Note:  This is not an actual experiment but rather, it is a metaphor for what happens in

             business, families and other groups when policies or procedures are not questioned. 

             What’s important to remember is that some things outlive their relevance, so it’s okay

             to ask  “Why?”

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handsHave you ever tried one of those tricky “closing techniques” that are supposed to transform hesitant prospects into instant customers?

Some of the “experts” on this topic tell you to say things like, “Would you rather have it in blue or in yellow?” Or, “Do you want delivery on the first or the eighth?” Or, “Let’s go ahead and get the paperwork started. Here, you can use my pen.” (Then you hand the person a fancy pen.) Or, “Try it for 30 days. If you don’t like it, we’ll take it back.”

The problem with all of these techniques is that prospects can see them coming a mile away, and they usually feel like they’re under attack – which they are.

Salespeople who use these techniques, and others just as ineffective, do so because they are under the mistaken belief that these tricks sometimes deliver sales. Actually, when prospects decide to buy after the salesperson has said something like this, they buy in spite of the closing technique, not because of it. Instead of trying to use a tricky closing maneuver at the end of the sales process, you should secure commitment for a yes-or-no decision before you even make your presentation.

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Crystal BallPerfect Knowledge would be the ultimate way to get ahead. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who has it and you probably don’t either. The next best thing though is a great sense of what’s happened in the past and an excellent grasp of the various external factors that frequently control events. Almost all our members are Georgia based or at least focused on this market. Georgia and particularly the Atlanta environs have gone through at least nine up and down economic cycles since I became involved in 1978. Until the most recent down cycle hit, Atlanta and by extension Georgia had what I would characterize as a coastal climate, i.e. we did not get the low, lows that inland communities got, we remained relatively temperate when it was freezing elsewhere. Not so this time. The economic tsunami that flooded the country did not spare us.

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girl-holding-hand-up-stopOne of the five most  important tenets of selling!

A friend of mine wrote about what I consider one of the big five of selling…starting at the right level. If you start at the right level, you can figure out most everything you need to understand about the customer and his project.  Without this knowledge, you are just another bidder among many.

I got a one-line e-mail the other day:

“How can I get around a lower-level person (without making them mad)?”

Ever been blocked before? It’s a pretty common problem. It occurs for 2.5 reasons:

1. You get an inquiry from a lower-level person directed by the boss to go on a scouting mission, find facts and prices, and report back to daddy. 

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