I am an ex-salesperson. For anyone in outside sales, you know this is a career both revered and reviled by most people. I bet more than one of you suffered accusations of selling snake oil in your lifetime.
Outside salespeople are always sent to training. I went to Bryan Tracy. I saw a guy with the Miss Clairol black hair color…Tom Hopkins. I even went to something called, Professional Selling Skills. I’m not knocking these events; I learned a ton, and I highly recommend them to a sales person just starting out.
If you don’t have the budget or the attention span for these sales programs, however, just read Green Eggs and Ham. Do so, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the only sales manual you’ll ever need.
Why? I’ll give you five reasons:
#1: Sam introduces himself in a memorable way.
The prospect must know who you are. You need to be a person and even more importantly, a person they like. Who can deny that Sam introduces himself in a memorable way?
Personally, I can’t pull off wearing a red top hat or holding a sign while perched on my weird-looking dog’s keister (and neither can you), but I can hand them a business card and introduce myself right up front. Adapt Sam’s strategy to a more streamlined and personal introduction and you are already off to a great start.
#2: Sam doesn’t get put off by the fact the dog/bear/sheep creature doesn’t like him.
Seriously…what is that thing?
When you make a prospecting call, you are interrupting someone’s day. Your prospect had a ToDo list as long as his or her arm before you decided to drop by or call. In addition, he or she is usually not too excited you made it through the gatekeeper. Don’t let this stop you. There is always a reason to give up. The truly successful salespeople keep smiling and selling despite these reasons.
#3: Sam gets the Assumptive Close.
In my sales career, I learned that all of us snake oil types had different Closes. Closes are techniques you use to get your prospect to yes. If you want to be in sales, you must know your closes.
One of these tried and true techniques is the Assumptive Close. The assumptive close is where you just presume that the prospect is going to say yes, so you provide them the option of where or when they want the snake oil. “Sure I understand, Ms. Prospect. Can I come to your office to discuss the terms of our agreement on Tuesday or Wednesday?”
Sam gets the assumptive close. He tries it repeatedly for 41 pages:
Would you like them here or there?
“Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?
“Would you? Could you? In a car?”
And so forth. Sam’s a fan of the assumptive close.
#4: Sam doesn’t take no for an answer.
Certain members of my family have been described as pleasantly persistent. If you don’t know what that means, just re-read the book. Sam is never deterred by the creature’s insistence that he doesn’t like green eggs and ham. He sticks to his strategy and over time wears out the thing’s resistance.
In real sales, this can be tricky. Do what Sam does, and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a harassment lawsuit.
But it is important always to keep the door open. If the prospect isn’t interested now, ask if there is a time when the company reviews their vendors so you can reconnect then. Another good foot in the door option is to invite him or her to an event or a sales booth at trade show for a personal demonstration. Whatever you do, make sure that the “No” you are getting today isn’t final so you can try again on another, better day.
#5: Sam gets the product in his prospect’s hands.
In almost any sales situation, the key to converting prospects is to get the product in their hands. You know what a great widget you have, but your prospect doesn’t. If you can get it in his or her hands and have the widget show them how wonderful it is, you are that much closer to getting the yes you want. Getting the product in the prospect’s hands is obviously harder to do in intangible sales where the widget is a concept, but there are ways. When I sold radio time we made a spec commercials so our prospects could hear what their professionally produced :60 Radio ad would sound like.
Sam offers the creature a free sample of his green eggs and ham, imploring him to “Try them! Try them!” And even though the sample he offers has been in a strange house with a known disease-causing vermin, traveled in a box with a fox, in a car, up a tree, on a train, through a tunnel, in the exhaust pipe of a boat and finally underwater…the creature eats them. Better yet, he likes them.
So there you have it. I just saved you and your sales manager a ton in training budget. It turns out that everything you ever needed to know about sales was explained to you as a child in a book that uses no more than 50 words.
Now get out there and sell some snake oil!
Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. She crafts strategies for her clients that want to enhance their content. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.