Home > Sales Performance, Tactics & Strategies > Ice Cream for Breakfast?

Ice Cream for Breakfast?

The feeling of being denied the freedom to make your own decision is one of the worst feelings in the world. I don’t know too many people beyond the age of two that would argue with that statement. If I decide to go out and ride my bike, eat lunch at 1:30, have ice cream for breakfast or stay up until 3:00 AM, well, that is my choice thank you. So why should I change my mind if that is really what I want to do?

I’ll just sit here while you try to convince me

So when did it become fashionable to deny a prospect the choice to hear a pitch, stay with a current vendor or take advantage of special pricing from a competitor?  Is it that everyone we approach must be stupid or making a mistake if they don’t buy from us? Or is it just possible that we aren’t right for everyone? The tried and true process of spouting features and benefits is a tad “seller-centric”. .. meaning that those “can’t miss” benefits should work for everyone because that’s what the sales person is telling you. Just because you offer a car with fold down seats does that mean I should be thrilled even though I have no need for that particular feature that is so desired by someone else?

Just trust me, please

Someone once told me that feature and benefit selling amounted to “positive performance before trust” when used to fuel the sales process. I didn’t quite grasp that idea until I found myself as the prospect a few times. You could almost feel the salesperson telling me to just go ahead and trust him. And the funny thing was that the more he told me about this feature and that benefit that made no difference to me, the harder it was to believe I should grant him any trust at all.

So in an effort to find a more nurturing way to sell I began using a permission based sales approach that embraced the fact that either party could say NO, that allowed both salesperson and prospect to feel in control, and that used question marks instead of exclamation points or periods to drive the process forward. Wouldn’t we all like to work in an environment that felt that comfortable?

  1. Michael Stancato
    01/20/2010 at 6:47 AM

    This is like the process of User Testing in the field on Usability Design. One related example might be “testing one user early is better than testing 50 later in the process”. My two favorite books in the field are “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug and “A Project Guide to UX Design” by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler.

  2. 01/20/2010 at 10:42 PM

    Mike, Usability Design si more technical than I typically operate, but I am sure you carried the concept across lines correctly. Seems like people in your side of the creative world, at least the ones I have met, tend to believe that creating has to be done before presenting. That belief causes enormous expenditure of time, talent and resources to present something that might be wonderful, but never had a chance to be delivered. Why won’t agencies and creative folks ask what would kill an opportunity even if they love the magic you produce? My motto is and will always be: kick all sleeping dogs until they respond!

  3. Jeff
    01/21/2010 at 1:57 AM

    The concept works. I know because I just experienced it. Stay away from features and benefits but ask the prospect “what could kill the deal?” I asked the next question “If I could eliminate the deal killers…, do we have a deal?” The next day I received a huge order from someone I’ve never done business with before.

  4. 01/21/2010 at 3:37 AM

    If you are going to lose, lose early instead of waiting until you’re drooling with anticipation only to have your heart broken! I know no one needs more help than this one nugget, but we have a whole bagful for any interested parties.

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