Emotional Involvement

I was talking with Jerry this week. I’ve known Jerry for a long time. He’s been selling for 30+ years and been selling boats for more than half of that time. He’s been through 3 kinds of sales training that I know of (not ours) and is among the strongest salespeople that I know. He sells a lot of little boats every year and usually 1-2 big boats. When he sells two big ones, he has a very good year. This week he was telling me about a “big one” that he was losing.

Here’s the story.

As you can imagine, a big boat takes months to sell. Lots of options. Get involved with the marina. Other family members. Jerry did his due diligence. He talked to the family members to make sure that their needs were met. He talked to the marina people to make sure that their needs were met. He talked to the boat manufacturer to make sure that they were OK with what he was doing. In this case, there was a last minute “docking issue” with the marina and when Jerry told the prospect, they cancelled the deal and told Jerry that they were gonna stay with their old boat.

Jerry didn’t give up! He talked to the marina people and the manufacturer. He talked to some other experts and he found a way to get it done so everybody was gonna be happy including himself! Great job, right? That’s when this story started for me. He told me this story and when I asked him what he was gonna do, he said, “I’m gonna call the prospect. Tell them that I fixed the problem and get a signature on the final order.”

Here’s the technique.

I suggested that rather than tell the prospect that he had fixed the problem, he tell them that he has an idea that might fix the problem and ask if they want him to try?

….If they agree, he needs to ask what happens if he fixes it, they’ll say that they’ll buy, or give him another problem. He has to get a list of all the obstacles that are in the way and an agreement that if he makes them all go away, they will buy the boat.

….If they don’t agree, he needs to acknowledge that the docking issue wasn’t the real problem and ask what the real problem is.  Then, as above, he has to get a list of all the obstacles that are in the way and an agreement that if he makes them all go away, they will buy the boat.

If he cannot get them to agree to buy the boat if he handles all the obstacles, he has no deal.

Here’s the problem and the point.

Remember how I started. Jerry is a highly trained, very experienced, excellent salesperson. He knew the technique. As soon as I told him, he said, “Oh, yeah.” Why was he gonna do it wrong? He was emotionally involved. He thought the deal was done and was disappointed when it started to unravel. I saw it because, as a third party “coach”, I could look at it objectively. This deal has a $50,000 commission attached to it. I wonder if Jerry has ever lost one of these big deals when if he had talked to his coach, he could have gotten it? Do you think that Jerry should get himself evaluated to see if he has any other hidden issues that are costing him money? Do you think that he should hire me as an “on call” coach to assure that he never loses a deal that he should get?

One thought on “Emotional Involvement

  1. Rick, the coaching point is great but the issue is even better, one that most salespeople never get. “If I can find a way to solve that problem, what will happen next?” can be applied to almost any situation where something must happen before one gets the business and you need to know if there are more things like that lurking behind the next thing. Nice work!

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