I’ll never forget the day I watched a secretary outsell a team of sales veterans.
The company sold consulting services. That morning I’d met with some of their less successful reps. Most of them knew exactly why they weren’t selling. “Our prices are just too high,” they assured me repeatedly. I’d heard it before. As we all know, price is often the single biggest obstacle for acquiring new business. It’s also the number one excuse of unsuccessful marketing and salespeople.
Now, I was riding with Helen Daniels, secretary to the boss and the person who’d handled new business inquiries before the pros had been hired: handled them, I’d been told, with great success. I wanted to see just how she’d done it.
We were meeting with the VP of Operations of a good size uniform company. Sure enough when the issue of price came up, the VP acted exactly as the reps had predicted, using almost the exact same words they’d used.
That’s Making the Skeleton Dance. The name comes from a quote from George Bernard Shaw, who said, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you might as well make it dance. Helen took the potential negative of price and bragged about it so hard she not only made that skeleton dance, she made it polka. Twenty-five minutes later we walked out of there with a signed contract.
Great business people don’t hide potential negatives and they certain don’t try to mealy-mouth around them. Smart businesspeople use potential negatives as selling points even bragging points.
This is best way I know to build instant trust and to sell more of your services quicker and easier-and to feel good about making that sale. If you can brag about a potential negative you’ve made peace with it. Often the secret to making peace with it is to find a way you can honestly brag about it.
Save the Reality Checklist below for the next time you’re confronted with a negative you’re tempted to bury or to try to ignore. You just might find that instead of a negative you’ve got a selling point – even a bragging point.
Your Reality Checklist
- What are the negatives you need to present or wish you could avoid presenting to others?
- Understand the potential downside of those negatives to everyone involved.
- Understand the potential positives that surround those negatives: for you, your business, and most especially to those you’ll be presenting the negatives to.
- Isolate the What’s in It for Them for each of the “Thems” you need to reach. Take care of the “What’s In it for Them”, and the what’s in it for you and your business will take care of itself.
- Marshall your best possible case, then imagine yourself presenting that case to the biggest Doubting Thomas you’re likely to encounter.
Are you, yourself, really sold? If not, don’t expect that you’ll be able to sell anyone else. If you’re not sold, what would it take—what can you do—to make the case more saleable? If it can reasonably be done, do it. If it can’t be done, deal with the reality, explaining to your potential client why it is the reality, frankly and honestly.
Never forget that truth is the ultimate sales tool.