is10292520 largeThere isn’t enough time in anyone’s lifetime to learn all that is needed to know from scratch. A way to accelerate your learning and skills in any area of interest can be achieved by leveraging the experiences of others. This has been proven to be a very effective way to increase your skills in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort.

Otto von Bismarck quipped, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Recently, I was talking to one of my brothers and we got on the subject of one of his grand daughters and his experience in trying to teach her to skate. In his day he was an elite hockey player, later on in life he coached many hockey teams and players but he hadn’t spent much time with entry-level athletes, such as his granddaughter. He had his granddaughter out a few times at the local skating rink to help her develop her skating skills; she was making progress, and albeit slow, it was progress.

[rquotes]Then, the last time that he had her out on the ice something happened that changed everything. [/rquotes] There was a young boy about a year older than her that could skate pushing off the edges of his blades at a fast pace. His young granddaughter was watching the young boy and had asked my brother, “Is that boy running on the ice?”

She had seen the technique he was using to skate and grandpa explained to her what the young boy was doing. She set off to skate again and my brother said within the next several strides she had experienced an “Ah-ha moment!” His young granddaughter’s skill level was now several levels higher, all because she had a role model to emulate, a very clear vision of what she needed to do and how to do it, plus a keen desire to develop a new skill.

This family story inspired me to probe the experiences of other sales professionals that I know and learn from. Even though I am a certified sales trainer and I have my own experiences and stories that I’ve learned from, I know that there are many excellent examples of what being a sales professional is and how to become one. Metaphorically, we’re going to learn by seeing how someone else skates.

Every month via this eNewsletter and my blog posts I am going share sales nuggets with you. Use them in ways that suit you, your personality, your products or services.

123rf13135614 largeHere’s the first nugget: How a Limousine Got the Prospect’s Attention.

A drilling fluids salesman was frustrated with an engineer that he was contacting on a regular basis to try and earn the right to supply some of the products that were available from his company. [quotes]Everything that he had tried had failed miserably.[/quotes] But one day while attending a sales training program he had an ah-ha moment. It was the fourth week of the training and a comment about one attendee’s success gave him the idea of getting the attention of that prospect by dramatically interrupting the engineer’s thinking.

He decided that he had nothing to lose anyway; he wasn’t being awarded any of the opportunities no matter how many proposals he had presented or how much time he had invested in developing a relationship.

So, he called the engineer prospect and invited him to go for lunch. He set the time and confirmed that he would stop by and pick him up. Later in the week he arrived as planned at the engineer’s office to pick him up in a limousine.

When the engineer saw the vehicle he was very impressed that he was going to lunch in a stretch limo. Nobody in recorded history had ever picked up a lowly engineer in that company in a limo! They drove for about 20 minutes and then the limo pulled up and parked in the front of the local Dairy Queen.

The engineer’s face dropped, indicating that his much-anticipated lunch was well, a startling surprise. As a matter of fact, he asked, “Why are we parked at the Dairy Queen?” The sales representative said that’s a great question and I’m happy to answer it. You see when we sent out our request for proposals for lunch and dinner suppliers this Dairy Queen won as this week’s lowest bidder.

[quotes]The engineer was speechless.[/quotes] But after a few minutes he realized the big point that had just being made: The rep had gotten his attention and showed him that cheap – while easy to measure in dollars – doesn’t always mean the most appropriate product.

They went on to enjoy burgers, fries and chin-waggle about the engineer’s company’s requirements and some of the solutions that the drilling fluids company could offer. Their solutions may at first glance look more expensive, but were in fact superior solutions because they were able to increase productivity. Higher productivity and greater cost effectiveness was what the engineer was looking to achieve all along when measured over the length of the drilling period.

The salesman walked away with the business because he found a way to skate past the “cheaper” and show his now-well satisfied client a better way. [rquotes]But first, he needed to see someone else “skate.” [/rquotes] He learned the importance of interrupting the prospect’s thoughts and using surprise to open his mind – valuable insights for any of us trying to break through the blizzard of distractions and pressures our prospects live with.

Those breakthroughs let him dramatically demonstrate that solutions that seemed high at first glance were in fact superior once he had the opportunity to get into the details and help his prospect learn his solutions were a not just a lower risk but a more cost effective investment.

-        by Coach Phil Gilkes