Only Fools Rush In
by Joe Bonura, CSP
GET THE WHOLE PICTURE
My son Nick and I completed a two-week camera safari in Kenya,
and we were walking in downtown Nairobi, saying our goodbyes to
a dream adventure, when a neatly dressed Kikuyu gentleman approached
and immediately got in step with us.
His first question, delivered through a warm smile and a crisp
British accent, was, 'Enjoying my country?' How else could I respond
to his courteous question but, 'Of course, it's beautiful.' My son
added, 'It's great, we hate to leave.'
His next question moved us further along his pre-ordained purpose,
'And what have you seen so far?'
My response, 'Mount Kenya, the Rift Valley, and lots of animals.'
He then said to my son, 'Sounds like you had a good safari?' Nick
jumped in with, 'Yes, and I took some really great pictures.'
Our new best friend asked, 'Pictures of what?' Nick replied, 'The
As he continued to stroll along with us, he asked, 'And what animal
impressed you the most?' We both answered simultaneously, 'The elephant,
of course!' To which he pulled up his sleeve and said, 'Would you
like to take home an elephant hair bracelet to commemorate your
wonderful African experience?'
We now own two bracelets.
GET IN STEP FIRST
How far do you think he would have gotten with us if he had stepped
in front of us and asked, 'Would you like to buy an elephant hair
bracelet?' We would have said no, and we would have gone on our
First he got in step with us, learned what our interests were,
and then showed us how we could take that 'interest' home with us.
I have been exposed to many sales people in my lifetime, and I
have lost count of the times that sales people came into my office
and immediately began the sales pitch. They automatically made the
assumption that I needed what they had to offer. In some cases,
it took me five minutes into the presentation to determine what
they were selling.
Get in step before you attempt to make the shoe fit.
IT ONLY WORKS IF YOU WORK
After a young woman attended one of my sales training sessions,
she sent me an e-mail describing what happened when she applied
the information that I shared with her about getting in step.
Here is what she said:
Recently, I visited with a local business person who had always
rejected my advertising medium. I decided to get in step with him
by asking him questions about his business based on the information
that you had shared in your training program.
I asked many questions, listened well, and based on his answers,
made a few on-target suggestions that helped solve his toughest
As a final question, I asked, 'If I put together a message that
effectively communicates these ideas that we discussed, would you
be willing to seriously consider giving us the opportunity to work
He replied, 'See it! I'll buy an annual schedule with you for the
first time in a decade.'
I was so startled, I said, 'How's that?' To which he added, 'You're
not like a normal media rep trying to sell me advertising - You
are concerned about my problems, and you are helping me run my business
better. You can come see me anytime.'
The media rep had a choice after attending my program. She could
discard the information on getting in step, or she could apply it.
She chose to apply it to her sales technique, and as a result, she
obtained the sale.
FLY ME TO THE SALE
Recently, I made sales calls with a sales person who selected to
pitch a very difficult client. As we walked into the hard-sell's
office, I noticed a framed Jeppesen pilot map on his wall. I asked
him how long he had been a pilot?
When he wondered how I knew that he was a pilot, I told him that
I was a pilot and that not many people would have a pilot map on
the wall if they didn't have an interest in flying.
He agreed, and we had a great fifteen-minute conversation about
our common interest. I then asked him questions about his business,
and needless to say, after getting in step with my pilot buddy,
we walked away with the business.
Look for the unique to comment on -- not the picture on the back
of his credenza. Observe what is parked in the president's parking
space; what does the cover letter in the annual report say; what
current news have you read about the company; and what can you find
out from the receptionist?
Look for the unique, and you will be unique.
SMALL TALK YIELDS BIG RESULTS
Some sales trainers will tell you to get right to the point - skip
the small talk.
I have been in selling in the real world for over forty years,
and the most important lesson I have learned is to get in step with
the prospect before you try to sell him/her 'the bracelet.' Maybe
one in a hundred will respond to the direct approach, but I do business
with the other ninety-nine who want to know how much you care before
they want to know how much you know.
Next time that you make a call, get in step first, and walk
away with powerful results.
© 2004 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.