I don’t know if it was the after effects of Halloween, the mid-term elections, or something else, but it was a bit of a weird week last week, nothing earth shattering, just a number of things people said, silly things, and some things I witnessed that got me thinking. I am hoping maybe by sharing, some of you can shed some light on them, or explain them, or just be as bemused as I was.
The first set up is a bit long but stay with it. Here we go:
Last weekend I found myself at someone’s house who I did not know, a friend of a friend type of thing. He was an avid outdoors type, I am not, my idea of camping in the summer is opening the window instead of air conditioning. This guy was a big time hunter, no doubt a Platinum Plus shopper at Bass Pro Shop. When we got there, he was watching some great Canadian outdoor show, hunters, or that is what they called themselves. I am sorry, but these guys were anything but hunters, or what I see as hunters. They got all this high tech equipment, super tech ladders to climb up in a tree, and all kind of camouflage clothing and covers, not to mention some Big Time Ultra Fancy Bear Lure. With all this, these big time bwana hunters, poured the lure on a tree stump, ran up a tree about a hundred yards away, up on their ladder to sit on a branch, cover themselves with the camouflage, grabbed their big gun, (there’s got to be some symbolism at work there), and waited. When the unsuspecting and unfortunate bear went for the lure, he shot him from the safety of his perch. Not really hunting, more sucker shooting, hunting would be if he did from the ground, hey if he confronted the bear, I was thinking, let see you do that by going after the bear instead of luring him with scent, hiding and shooting, not very manly. But that’s not the point.
As I thought about it, it struck me that there are those in sales who call themselves hunters who were not all that different than our friend bwana above. They go out there load themselves up with all kinds of high tech tools and toys, some on their own, some provided by their companies. As you know I am the co-author of a book on Trigger Events, just look at how many tools are out there to help sales people with leveraging triggers, all good tools, the question is how they are used. Much like our friend the hunter, once they have everything in place, they sit back and wait, and wait, until their target shows up, and then they pounce. The difference in sales and the game hunters is that there are usually many sales people pouncing on the same prospect at the same time, while only one bwana shoots the bear, there is no competition for the same prize. What you have is a bunch of reactive sales people reacting and sometimes scaring their target.
Much like I said about the hunter, I would be much more impressed if theses same sales people would be proactive. Real sales hunters use the tools and techniques to proactively seek out and engage with potential buyers, well before the buyers are “out in the open”. To hunt you need to use trigger action on the part of a buyer, not wait for the buyers action to trigger your reaction, by that time it is too late. Rather than understanding what a buyer looks like and then waiting for one to pass by, understand their priorities, habits and motivations so you can engage with them before they go looking, rather than hoping they call you first, demonstrate the value of acting before they had intended. Once they declare their intention, they “are out in the open” and a target for all.
Understand how they define value vis-à-vis their objectives, and use that to trigger action, takes a bit of work, you have to climb down from the tree and enter he fray.
Here is the Spin
The other thing that struck me odd this week was around words and he images they convey. Watching the result of the midterm elections, you can’t escape the spin and the spin doctors. One friend commented on how the spin doctors work so hard to spin the facts their way, with only a passing regard to facts. Just then another turned to me and said “isn’t that what they teach sales people, SPIN?” Hmm, never thought about that.
While we all know that there is a world of a difference between SPIN the selling program, and spin political pundit style. On the other hand words and labels are important from a perception standpoint. While I was amused by the notion of the two being mixed up or lumped together, I was also a bit concerned. How many others make the same mistaken connection? On the other hand how many sales people do sound and behave like spin doctors in the process of engaging with prospects.
While I would not at all suggest that Neil Rackham or Huthwaite change the name of their process, but I do think sales people should work at executing the questioning technique in a way that does not make the prospect feel like they are being spun.
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