What's Your Greatest Sale Ever? (Click Here to See Mine: Greatest Sale Ever Video)
"I'm going to see what the other guys have." The customer, in his early 20s, had brought along his father for reinforcement. Dad didn't say anything. He didn't have to; his facial expression said it all: Don't mess with us.
If you've spent two minutes in the profession of selling, you've probably heard customers threaten to go somewhere else, to compare you with others, to see what else is available. This situation is one that causes fear and panic in most salespeople, dejection and depression in others. But not in motorcycle sales manager Ken Fisher.
"Hang on one second," Fisher enjoined. "I have an idea."
He proceeded to the dealership locker room, changed out of his logoed staff shirt with name tag and into his street clothes – so he looked like any other person who might be running errands – and joined his customers back on the showroom floor. Upon returning, Fisher announced to his stunned prospects, "I'll go with you."
"They looked at me like I was crazy," Fisher remembers.
Fisher drove father and son down the street to the next motorcycle dealership. After five minutes in the store, no one had acknowledged them, so Fisher started to talk bikes using the other dealership's inventory. Ten minutes passed, still no one had acknowledged them. At the 15-minute mark, the 20-something son looked at Fisher. "Let's go back to your place," he said. "We want to buy from you."
Fisher didn't get frustrated. He didn't get angry. He used the natural flow of the sales exchange, more than a little creativity, and some chutzpah to win the business. He was confident he knew the product, secure in his relationship with his buyer, and best of all, he had no fear of failure. He had nothing to lose, so why not? He was unconventional and assertive, while not being aggressive (take a moment to think how you might be able to be bold and innovative in your next buyer exchange). A great sales success story and one we can all learn from.
The problem is that most sales managers – in an honest attempt to improve their own skills and their organization's performance – focus almost exclusively on those sales situations in which they weren't successful. This follows conventional wisdom: When you make a mistake, scrutinize it and fix it.
Focus on Your Success, Not Just Your Failures
In my new McGraw-Hill book, Accelerate the Sale, we detail the research of Tel Aviv University professor Shmuel Ellis, who conducted a revealing study of after-action reviews with two companies of soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces. He demonstrated that soldiers performing successive navigation exercises learned at a significantly higher rate and improved their performance when they were debriefed on their failures and successes following each day of training. Soldiers who reviewed only their failed attempts did not perform as effectively.
In a second study, Ellis similarly found that individuals who experienced success also were more comfortable discussing their mistakes. Learning from mistakes after a successful experience is much more effective than learning from mistakes after a failed experience. People learn more from their mistakes if they feel psychologically safe. And that means focusing on success. They were able to dig deeper, find higher leverage improvements, and be more open to trying new approaches.
Want to sell more, faster? Concentrate on learning from your sales successes.
In Accelerate the Sale, we included "Street Smarts," sidebars from successful sales practitioners in a wealth of industries, from motorcycles to marketing, forensics to firearms, computer technologists to consultants par excellence, from giants of academia to a giant of an alcoholic recovery mentor. In the last chapter, we asked them to share their greatest sale ever. The stories have been described as riveting.
And now we want to discover "Your Greatest Sale Ever."
Beginning August 1, 2011, we are scouring the planet for great sales success stories. It's easy. Simply send us your 500-word story about a sales or customer service situation that you feel categorizes you as "an outstanding sales professional."
And just like when you close the deal, when you win this contest, you get paid. First prize is $1,000, and the next three runners-up will receive $500 cash. No games. No gimmicks. We just want to spread the good news…about you.
Go to www.AcceleratetheSale.com and click on the tab "Your Greatest Sale Ever Contest" for contest rules and specifics about how to enter.
So what's your greatest sale ever?