Serendipity is when someone finds something that they weren't expecting to find. We have all heard stories of how people meet by chance and develop a lifelong friendship. Sometimes, serendipity comes from being the first to see something, like Dr. Roentgen when he discovered X-rays. And sometimes it's not about being the first to see a new thing, but the first to see something common in a new way. For example, Percy Spencer noticed that the microwaves he was working on at Raytheon had melted the candy bar in his pocket. Percy wasn't the first person to notice that microwaves generated heat, but he was the first to think of using microwaves to heat food.
Serendipity often makes history. Take the movie "Casablanca." Ingrid Bergman wasn't Warner Brothers' first choice. The famous last line "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" was written after the shooting was completed and the producers had to call back Bogart to dub the line. The song, "As Time Goes By" was almost cut because the artist who wrote the score didn't like it. When they tried to reshoot the scene with another song, Ingrid Bergman had already cut her hair for her next film, which saved the song.
Salespeople can harness the power of serendipity by preparing the right message which will lead to an unexpected surprise for the buyer. For example, the cofounder of Salesforce.com Marc Benioff wasn't the first one to create and sell online software. Pat Sullivan, the founder of ACT! Launched Interact, an Internet-based CRM system long before Salesforce.com started. Tom Siebel, the founder of Siebel Systems (later bought by Oracle) created Sales.com,another online CRM system. Both services vanished. What set Benioff apart was his ability to create a more compelling message designed to surprise more buyers. His first message was "Point, Click, Close" but it didn't create a lot of traction. By seeing things in a different way, he discovered the slogan "The end of software," which later morphed into "Software as a Service," and even later turned into "Cloud Computing." Since then, every large software company has jumped on the Cloud wagon, and Benioff recently stated that the Cloud was an old hat and declared that the next great thing will be the"Social Enterprise." Because more and more customers rely on social networking to learn about new products and services from people they (barely) know (but whose opinions they trust), the term Social Enterprise seems the perfect bait on an old hook designed to catch more fish.
Salespeople can use serendipity as a great sales tool to surprise customers with an unexpected message. Lawrence Block defined serendipity as follows: "You look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for." Customers are always looking for good surprises. They have seen it all, and they buy from salespeople who give them something that they don't expect. Serendipity is like getting a first class upgrade on a long flight. Think about ways to give your next customer an upgrade to a first-class sales experience. That's harnessing the selling power of serendipity.
Question: Can you share an example of how serendipity helped you sell?