by Brad Roderick
Sasquatches are, of course, real. Or they aren’t. Whether they are fact or fiction is of very little consequence to those of us who hunt for revenue each day. And yet, the study of “Bigfoot Believers” does provide insights and lessons on how to increase sales.
I was in a conversation with a friend recently who sheepishly disclosed that he was preparing to head to the woods to search for Bigfoot. Or, in his vernacular, he was “going deep in hopes of a sighting, man.” The more he talked about it, the more intrigued I became. Using the salesperson’s best tool (questions), I tried to learn more. “How did you get started? Have you seen one? Do you believe in them?” (Plus a few more that only a long-term friend could ask.) He explained that he didn’t really know if they were real or not, but he enjoyed being out in nature with friends. I almost jumped in and said the only thing that I could think of: “Cool” (Yes, I am frequently that eloquent). But I sensed a reason to be quiet and wait. That there was another hunter technique or other information forthcoming that’s not in the manual. And in the silence, there was room for him to add more details (see how you are already getting sales techniques and we aren’t even to the Bigfoot part yet?). He said something that was at the real heart of things. He said, “I don’t know if they are real or not, but I sure want to believe. How cool would it be to see one?!”
“I don’t know if it’s real or not.”
“I want to believe.”
“How cool would it be?”
Fast forward a few days and I am having a conversation with an experienced sales professional. She sells technology solutions to Fortune 500 companies. She is well recognized as a solid performer. We were discussing a new opportunity she was working on. She was excited and her enthusiasm was infectious. There was something about her enthusiasm that was eerily reminiscent of the Bigfoot conversation with my buddy. She was excited about the outcome (how cool would it be – it is a major deal). As I probed a bit more it became obvious that she wanted to believe it was a real and high-probability deal. After I asked a few more questions (most began with “why”), she got quiet and admitted that, deep down, she really had no idea if it was real or not.
When you find yourself or other salespeople you care about describing how cool it would be to get the deal, recognize that a test of belief is in order. Here are a few quick ideas on how to develop your own bank of test questions:
- Is there a specific opportunity?
- What are the real implications of moving it forward or not doing anything?
- Are they empowered and committed to change?
- Are they engaged in the solution crafting?
- Do they make themselves available to collaborate?
- Have they shared anything that might be considered “sensitive”?
- Have they voiced or articulated the challenges of deciding, buying, implementing, etc.?
- Are they committed to making a change and committed to you?
- Are they ready?
- Are they ready now?
My friend, no doubt, will continue searching for Bigfoot. And my bet is that with each passing season he will become more and more certain of their existence. Not because of any real new evidence but because … well, that’s the subject of another lesson for another time.
What are some of the questions you can use to create your own litmus test of reality?
Sales managers, questions like these can be effective in helping your team develop their skills while giving you better tools for developing pipelines and forecasting reports.
Keep persisting. The truth is out there.