I wrote this post about four years ago and am bringing it back as a reminder that what we do really isn't nearly as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be. In essence all we need is a solid process and a good understanding of human nature, both of which we can learn a good deal about from Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe.
In just under 30 years in sales I've had the opportunity to meet thousands upon thousands of salespeople. Some have been very good, many not so good, and a few phenomenal. But there are two that I know that are simply the best salespeople I've ever met. They work as a team and their closing ratio is well over 90%-most of the time with additional add-on sales to boot. I can honestly say that I'm not aware of a single serious prospect that they've failed to approach-ever. And they have an incredible ability to always be in the right place at the right time.
Many times we tend to overcomplicate things. We analyze things to death. We search for the smallest nuance, the tiniest little thing that might give us a bit of an edge, a little bit of an upper hand in nailing down a sale. We sometimes lose sight of the basic nature of selling which is to find a prospect, develop a relationship, make our case, overcome their objections, and close the sale. That's the basics of a sale no matter what we sell. Of course there are twists and turns, some more complicated than others. But in the end, that's what we all do.
Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe understand this concept better than any other salespeople I've ever met. More importantly, they don't try to complicate it and they practice their craft religiously and are constantly honing their skills. And for their diligence, their highly honed skills, and commitment to being where their prospects are, they are rewarded with a fat income.
So, who are these top producers and what secrets have they learned?
Mr. B.J. is a miniature dachshund and Ms. Chloe is a miniature Yorkie. OK, yes, they're dogs. Don't let that fool you. They are also highly skilled salespeople with the highest close ratio I've ever seen, with a sense of timing we humans can only envy, and with a dogged persistence in asking for the order that puts us human salespeople to shame-rejection doesn't bother or discourage them in the least. If they fail with one prospect, they know another is right around the corner.
But our lessons come from their sales process. As mentioned previously, it is basic. No fancy tricks, no deception. (In the spirit of full disclosure I have to mention that in their sales process there is tons of manipulation which is unethical for human sellers but appears to be a perfectly ethical sales practice in the animal world.)
1. Going to where their prospects are: Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe are always prospecting. They have two prospecting methods-cold calling and waiting for the occasional walk-in prospect. Since they don't like to rely on the happenstance of walk-ins, they spend a good deal of time cold calling.
Cold calling consists of keeping a close tab on the neighborhood for any prospect-prospects being anyone outside.
Upon spying a prospect both are eager to introduce themselves. They wait for an appropriate opportunity and approach for the introduction. Since our block is a favorite for walkers and joggers throughout the neighborhood, they are in a constant prospecting mode, meeting dozens of potential customers daily.
If they are in the house, they are ever aware of anyone going into the kitchen. The kitchen is where sales are made and they make sure that at least one of them has the kitchen covered at most times-but since they don't trust the other to let them know if someone is approaching the kitchen, they are generally both positioned to keep an eye on that most important room.
2. Building relationships: Upon meeting a new prospect they concentrate on establishing a relationship, with the initial emphasis on understanding and addressing the prospect's needs and wants. Relationship building typically entails a great deal of licking and kissing, demonstrating their sincerity and trustworthiness, as well as their eagerness to please.
They don't rush the sale. They are content to move at the prospect's speed, allowing them to become comfortable with the relationship before pressing for an order.
3. Making their presentation: For B.J. and Chloe, moving from the initial connection stage to the presentation stage can sometimes be a bit abrupt, somewhat like some of our less skilled human salespeople-although in this case it appears to be quite effective.
Their presentation tends to consist of sniffing the food or drink the person may have, smelling the prospect's hands or breath for traces of food, or, if called for, dissolving into pathetic, irresistible sad-eyed looks.
4. Asking for the order: Once they've made their presentation, they ask for the order with lots of jumping up and down, barking and whining, and running around the prospect. No one ever fails to understand the request.
5. Overcoming objections: Neither B.J. or Chloe are willing to accept a no. An objection simply means they have not made their case persuasively enough. Upon hearing no they simply brush it off and their kisses, loving, jumping, barking, running around the prospect, and their big doe eyes become even bigger, their mournful looks become even sadder.
It takes nerves of steel to resist them and few do it successfully.
6. Asking for the add-on order: Once the prospect has bought and provided a treat, they have opened themselves up for the add-on sale. The add-on tends to be a more subtle sale than the initial sale, taking the form of nudging the bag the original treat came in or rubbing on the prospect's leg.
7. Maintaining relationships: After they secure a new client, they make sure they follow up with regular visits and a consistent flow of kisses and leg rubs.
Their sales process is incredibly simple and straightforward. Their reward is a consistent flow of treats from our neighbors, walkers, joggers, and of course my wife and me. They've even managed to teach some of the neighbors what their favorite treats are (dried chicken strips, unshelled peanuts-they love to shell the peanuts themselves although it makes an incredible mess, and string cheese).
We may not be as cute as Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe. We may not be able to manipulate (and manipulation is never a valid part of selling for us humans) prospects as they do. But if a dog that can't speak can follow this simple process and make tons of sales, we should be mindful that this isn't rocket science. Their secret is simple-they meet lots of prospects, develop relationships, make a compelling presentation, overcome the objections, and ask for the order.
Yes, our sales are more complicated. No, we don't have the cute factor working for us as they do. But we have the same opportunity Mr. B.J. and Ms. Chloe have. We have the same time to work with-they get all of their prospecting and selling done in about 6 to 7 hours. And in a bigger, more complicated form, we have in essence the same process. All we have to do is to be as committed to our success as they are to theirs.