When I started my coaching and consulting business twenty one years ago, the only thing I knew about sales was how to spell it. All of my career had been spent in operations and human resource management which meant everything I ever needed was purchased for me by someone else.
I was the proverbial babe in the woods.
Somehow I’d developed the notion that my enthusiasm, award winning smile and boyish good looks were more than enough. I’d sit in your office as long as it took for me to convince you that I was “your guy.”
You’d get as excited as I was about working with me and the next thing you know I was scurrying toward my car waving the purchase order so the ink dried in a hurry.
In short order I learned what “low hanging fruit” was. Most of these sales came from referrals and those referrals would tell me to make sure “I use their name when I walked in.”
(Here all the time I thought it was me.)
I ran out of those confidence building sales calls pretty quick.
I realized I had to quit depending on the kindness of strangers.
I’m driving down the road one day and I started thinking about how much I despised sales people when I was the guy whos office they were camped out in. By the time I got home I’d made a covenant with myself that contained a list of things I wasn’t gonna do if I was ever in their shoes. I came up with three things that would improve my chances of making a successful sale.
When I was a human resource director I’d probably meet with ten people each week who were going to take me to the promised land. I’d listen politely, take their card and literature and send them on their way. Rarely, if ever, did I follow up.
Oh, there may have come a time I needed them.
I just didn’t remember them.
They never had a chance to get my business.
They were vanilla. – Vanilla like everyone else.
When I started making sales calls for myself I kept that in mind.
Lemme tell you a story
I was in the middle of one of those “dead end calls.” That means I was filling time on someone’s calendar. Every pitch I gave was was answered with a “We have someone who does that!”
I’m packing up my emotional brief case when I noticed something on his desk.
“I noticed you were getting ready to do “blah, blah, blah.”
“Yeah but I have someone who does that…”
“No, I’m telling you that you don’t have to do it. They changed the regulation about a month ago. “
I reached into my brief case and pulled out a tattered two page report I’d printed out, sorta smudged and handed it to him.
He picked up his phone, dialed a number and asked the person on the other end if what he was reading was true.
I got the answer a few seconds later when he bellowed into the phone, “Then how the hell come am I finding this out from a sales man!”
A few months later my phone rang. He didnt bother saying hello. He asked me if I had familairity with a certain process. Would I be interested in doing it for them.
I told him I’d prepare a quote and he left me with this tid bit:
“Oh yeah. Here is the maximum amount I can sign for on my own name before I have to get approval.”
The guy on the other end? It was the guy I’d helped out a few months earlier. He remembered me because I helped him and didn’t ask for anything in return. . I did business with them for the next 13 years.
John, what’s the difference between creative and memorable?
Being creative gets you remembered. That means you learn to take advantage of a situation and help someone else create a positive out come and you do it with No. Strings. Attached.
Being creative means you are taking an approach that’s not traditional. Some people call it thinking outside the the box. Others refer to themselves as an outlier. Whatever term you are using, think in terms of doing something unique, something a potential client wants to know more about.
Because really? Let’s swallow a whole large dose of truth serum! How many emails, phone calls or snail mails do you get that say the same thing only they are in a different package?
Quite a few.
I believe that you cant be memorable until you learn to be creative.
Don’t have a creative bone in my body John!
Stop and think about a time when you really nailed something and did the whole six inch leap off the floor and punctuated it with a fist pump. That’s being creative. You connected with an audience or an individual who booked a follow up call with you or signed a nice, juicy contract with you and you know there were at least five other people bidding for the same client.
You got creative! You may have only changed one word or phrase in your pitch but it was the one word that resonated with your client.
You know your business. You know how to create success. There are all kinds of ways to flex your creative muscle. Just make sure that when you do, you’re being authentic! (See point #3 below.)
To thine own self be true.
In case you haven’t noticed by now I could be locked up for fracturing the English language. I speak what’s known as “Southside of Milwaukee.”
Joan and I were at a large family gathering a few years back when I was approached by two women who asked me if I were John Jurkiewicz. It seems they followed one of my blogs. As we talked, one of the women clapped her hands together and let out a small laugh. She turned to her friend and said “OMG, he talks exactly how he writes.”
Yup I do. It’s who I am. When you and I talk you are getting the authentic me.
Lemme get all business like for a second.
I really don’t like talking bout “my ideal client.” You and I are going to make the most critical of critical decisions concerning our relationship during our first conversation.
It’s not all about price, delivery and content. If you don’t get the warm fuzzy from me you’ll avoid me like the Covid-19.
Life is way to short to mess around with game playing and tactics that evaporated forty years ago.
To thine own self be true. – Be comfy in your own skin.
Think KNOW | LIKE | TRUST. It’s how every relationship is established. I have to decide if I really want to get to know you. I gotta tell you, and I’ll know you’ll find this hard to swallow but my style and approach turns some people off. (I know hard to believe.) I am formally informal which means I’ll take a shower before we meet but if it’s too hot out you get me in shorts and colorful tee shirt! I’m a very direct person whose enthusiasm rivals that of a 100 pound dog knocking you down and licking your face. I’ll tell you what I think and feel and I dont always wrap it with a bow.
Why? Well I’d hate to see you make a mistake you otherwise may not have to make.
A few years ago I connected with someone leaving the corporate world to start a business in food service. They took great pains to tell me that their last position was VP of Marketing for their company. They didn’t need any marketing help.
My response was to ask two questions: Have you ever worked in food service? They responded no! My next question Do you have the resources to hire someone who can guide you in marketing the food service arena? Again the answer was No. They added they knew marketing inside out.
It got quiet
I’m not your guy!
I’m not your guy. You’ve already decided you know everything about everything and you’d be wasting your money working with me.
Unfortunately for them, the business lasted six months and they ran out of money.
Once you Know me, you have to Like me. I’m a coach so that means you are buying my wisdom and expertise. If you cant stand being in the same room with me, am I ever gonna be able to help you out? I’ll answer that question NO!!
The final piece in that equation is Trust.
I’ve been going through some medical issues for the past year or so. Nothing life threatening but stuff that happens as I age. It’s annoying and I’m the kinda guy that always needs to know why. I need to have a plan and I need a prognosis – How long, how severe, etc.
My primary care provider sent me to a specialist who I felt, at times, contradicted what she, the primary care doc had set out as a course of treatment. Clear as mud?
I had a follow up visit with the primary care doc the other day. I walked in all anxious and nervous and when I walked out relaxed, focused and reassured. I wont give you a blow by blow but she fine tuned a few things and gave me a preview of what to expect. She didnt do a lot different than the specialist she sent me to.
There was something that made the difference. I trust her. She’s been my doctor for 2 years and in that time I have come to trust her for a variety of reasons.
The reasons aren’t rally important. The trust factor is.
My sales pitch? It revolves around needs versu wants. I help my clients scrape away all the the surface stuff that glitters and glows and I teach them to decide what they NEED.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew6:5
Never mind what the guru’s say about sprinkling your web site and blog posts with testimonials. It doesn’t matter what someone else thought of me. It matters what YOU think and whether you trust me.
The short version Money talks and B.S walks.
Know | Like | Trust
Okay, one final thing.
These three things are not be any means the only three things that make a successful sales pitch but they are important ingreeidnets.
I’d love to hear your comments, or feedback. Just put them in the comments section below.
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Yes, I know! There is no call to action, no free offer or special program. I’m working on that.
I mean, do you bring an engagement ring on a first date? (Gosh, I sure hope not)
See ya next week.