Use the Right Yardsticks and Connect the Dots


To be a truly successful sales professional, you must reframe the benefits of your product or service so they can be measured with yardsticks your customer is already using to measure their success. I’m sure most of you have heard me say this before, and I repeat it often because I believe that this concept is absolutely vital to efficiency sales success.


Today, I’d like to share a story that comes from one of our Efficiency Sales Professional™ Certificate Boot Camp graduates. This ninja (who we’ll call Nancy) started out her sales career selling anti-violence training programs to schools.

Nancy would go into each school to meet with the principal, and she would typically say, “I’m here because my mentor and I are advancing this anti-violence program that I think would greatly benefit your school.” Before too long, the conversation would advance to, “How much does it cost?” She would tell the principal the price (I believe it was somewhere around $9,000), at which point the principal would recoil and say, “Did you take a look around? I mean, we don't have enough books, we don't have enough computers… we hardly have enough money to put the chains on the doors to keep the drug dealers out during the school day. Where do you think I'm going to get $9,000 to buy your training system?”

Nancy was a sales professional, and was unfazed by this concern. She would say, “Let me ask you a question: How many fistfights did you have last month?” At which point the principal would say something like, “Oh, don't even get me started.” Nancy would continue, “Well, what happens when you do have a fistfight?” The principal would respond, “We suspend the kids.” Nancy would then ask, “One kid or both kids?” The principal would say, “Both kids, since we can’t usually determine who threw the first punch.” She would then ask, “How many days do you suspend them for?” At which point the principal would respond, “A minimum of three days.” Nancy would respond, “So, if I'm doing the math right, is it true that this district gets paid $40 per day for every student who shows up to school?” The principal would respond, “Yes.”

Now comes the fun part. She knows that every fistfight costs this principal 3 days x 2 kids x $40, or $240 of potential funding from the district. So, she would respond, “You know, with all due respect Mr. Principal, you'll probably break even on this $9,000 investment in the first month of the fall semester, and after that you can use all of your outsized savings to pay for more books and computers, which you and I both know you need.”

Nancy told me that when using this rationale, her success rate was better than 95% (as well it should have been, because she was connecting dots and using the right yardsticks). I'm sure when she walked into the room, before she started speaking, there was no way that the principal was thinking about average school attendance subsidies or how much revenue he loses from the district every time he suspends two kids for three days each. He probably hadn’t even thought about quantifying and monetizing the number of fights he'd had in the school. Once all those dots were connected, it was easy for him to agree with her that the best thing he could possibly do is buy her training system and start using some of the savings of avoided lost subsidies to improve the learning outcomes in his school.

So what’s the moral of the story? Figure out what yardsticks your prospect is using to measure his or her own success, connect the dots for your prospect, and make your product or service a “no-brainer” investment decision.

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Posted by Mark Jewell

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