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For want of a nail the shoe was lost

For want of a nail the shoe was lost

You’ve probably heard the one about the electric drill.

Guy walks into a DIY store, looking for a ¼ inch drill when in fact he is looking to buy a ¼ inch hole in the wall.

Truth is, he is really looking to buy wall space for a set of speakers for his home cinema.

Buying the drill isn’t the main event – listening to the music is.
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The “desired outcome” is a luxurious listening environment for music.

The original idiom, attributed to a Harvard professor is brilliant in its simplicity and highlights where most sales people, regardless of industry sector or business type, fail.

When we coach sales people, it is important to focus less on lists of features and benefits and more on the myriad consequences and outcomes.

Most buyers are wise to the features and benefits dump – the smarter ones will just ignore even the most competent sales person if all they talk about are lists.
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People relate better to consequences.

Once you start thinking about outcomes or consequences, you have to fully get inside the mind of the buyer moving from inside/out to outside/in thinking.

For those sales professionals who are fully immersed in their businesses, it can be unconsciously challenging to see the world from the eyes of the customer.

Especially if you have a proven track record in high performance sales – no better validation of your viewpoint than crushing sales targets each month, right?

Think about going to the gym on January 1st.

What is the primary consequence of going to the gym?

Physical pain.

Investment in time.

Cost of membership.

What is the secondary consequence?

Begin to feel fitter and more healthy.

And the tertiary consequence…?

You start to feel great about yourself.

Which one is easier to sell?

I work with a client who is the living embodiment of the theory of deliberate practice.

He doesn’t know it, but he is.

I worked out that he had spent, in his lifetime, over 65,000 hours in effective selling in his lifetime.

We once spoke about what was the single most important trait of a good-to-great sales person in any business.

“The ability to see the picture in the customers head,” he said.

To fully understand their world view and what makes them tick.

Easier to do that with a set of questions than with a list of features and benefits.



Shift Control is a business growth consultancy working with high performing sales teams and individuals  in the capacity as sales coach, mentor and sales strategist. For more information on how we can help your business, please email info@shift-control.co.uk


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