As the year comes to an end, I want to share a story with you. Last week I met with Mike, a seasoned salesman from Manchester, at a Spanish restaurant on the island of Tenerife. We were on our way to visit Mount Teide, the third-highest volcano in the world, and while getting ready to put in our orders, all of a sudden, a friendly man asked me if the seat next to me had been taken. I invited him to sit down, and before we knew it, we were chatting away about who we are, what we do, and where we come from.
Mike told me he was close to retirement age and planned to work ten months in the UK, earning enough money to overwinter the rest of the year in his recently purchased one-bedroom Tenerife apartment. “Not a bad plan,” was my reaction. The thing is, as Mike continued, he didn’t know if his plan was feasible. “Risky,” he whispered in my ear. “How so”?, I asked. Mike revealed that selling verandas and yawnings to businesses was relatively easy up to five years ago, but nowadays, he feels he is not as good at selling as he was before. “Hence,” he said, “it is good to have a plan, but at the moment, all I can see are dark clouds hanging above my head.”
I looked outside at the most beautiful blue sky I had ever seen. What are the odds, I asked myself, of me on holidays, meeting in the middle of nowhere with a worried salesperson on a Xmas break who cannot understand why he is not good at selling anymore? By the way, Mike could have sat next to any other fifty people on the bus, but he didn’t.
I felt sorry for Mike because as he continued to explain why he was not the super salesman he was before, he blamed himself. He said he wished he was better at closing deals because proposals often went quiet. Then Mike shared with me he is putting his last savings together to buy an online closing technique course. He never felt that was necessary until now, but he got to get better at closing.
I asked Mike if he has ever considered that maybe the reason for not being so successful as before is not because of his clunky closing techniques but because it is the buyer who has moved on. Buyers have changed the way they buy, and hence we have to change the way we sell. To sell better these days has not much to do with closing techniques. Mike looked at me as if I was speaking gibberish.
Dessert was on the table now, and I shared a few insights about the new way of selling. Like why we as salespeople need to be more in the customer’s world before mentioning what we sell and why your prospect should buy from you. I asked Mike who else he was talking to at prospective companies before he sat down with the business owner. I feared I knew the answer. When I asked him who he thought his biggest competitor was, he mentioned three companies I had never heard of. Then, while grabbing my mobile phone to share my email address with Mike, I heard him saying that these competitors were also to blame for offering greater discounts than he could afford.
I exchanged email addresses and promised to send him the book: Selling Will Never Be The Same Again on the condition of not buying an online closing techniques course. He said he couldn’t believe his luck that day. I wished him the same as I wish for all The Sales Advice readers:
A Happy New Year, and make 2023 the year of Selling Like Never Before.