Salespeople: Stay focused. Don’t be distracted. Not even by a shooting.

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I kinda suck at sales.  It’s not so much that I suck at it, but I’m more of a technical guy and sales doesn’t come as naturally to me.  I can talk to just about anyone, but selling is a different story, so a few years ago I got into a sales training program and part of what we do there is just practice and, for lack of a better term, we role play.  On Thursday I was playing the role of a homeowner who needed exterior painting. This wasn’t a stretch for me – I could really use someone to paint my house.  In fact, I had someone come over to give me a quote a few month ago and the quote never arrived.  This provided the perfect background for this exercise.

The salesperson I’m working with owns a residential painting company and he’s practicing his sales approach with me and asking some really great questions. He’s got his approach down and he’s really starting to hone in on my needs so I tell him that most of my house is clad in aluminum, but that I have some car port posts and some other exposed wood that has some paint flaking which needs to be addressed.

Oh, and I need a door painted.

And my wife wants to paint the shutters a different color.

He asks how long it’s been like this and I said since I moved in and I explain that I don’t have time to tackle it.  And I hate painting.

He’s found my pain and starts poking (like he should).  He asks why I haven’t hired someone and I said I tried, but that the contractor came out to do an estimate and never sent me one.  Typical contractor games that happen all too often.

“so, you’ve had some bad experiences with other contractors, huh?”

Yep…. written quotes never seem to arrive.  OR!  They seem to be more interested in discussing what happened rather than how to fix it!

“…huh…can you give me an example of this?”

Sure!  A few years ago I lived across town and my neighbor took a handgun and blasted a hole in my house!  I came home to a hole in my fence, my sliding glass door…my china cabinet….”

“Seriously?!?!”

Yep.  And every contractor who came out wanted to talk about the shooting.  I just needed my sliding glass door fixed cause it’s leaking conditioned air and it is summertime.  But they’d spend hours of my time trying to discuss exterior ballistics never mention the door.  I’m thinking ‘that’s the whole reason I invited you over…’

“So, they wouldn’t pay attention to you and ignored the issues you were having?  And pushed their own agenda?”

Exactly!  It got to the point where I didn’t want to mention how the door got damaged for fear of side tracking the conversation, but it’s really hard to hide a bunch of 9mm holes in the living room.

“That’s crazy!  I don’t know why they didn’t focus on the job you needed done…”

Me neither!  I’m like ‘I have cash….wanna fix the door?’ and they’d be like ‘…but he *SHOT* a hole in your house!!!!!’

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About this time the exercise ended, the instructor started talking, and we moved on to providing feedback to each other.

I turned to him and said “Every single thing I just told you is 100 percent true. Every part. I didn’t make up any part of that..”

“No way!  Your neighbor really shot your house?  And you had a bullet hole in your sliding glass door?  No way!  That’s nuts!”

 

Yep….and you missed the most important thing I said, buddy.

 

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