Recently, a salesperson asked me how I knew the frames of my three books were working, but especially those of Eat their lunch and the lost art of the fence.
I had a slide game designed by professionals. The result of this paper was to answer the following question: "Why should I do business with you and your business rather than with my current provider?" It worked well, allowing my team to tell our story ( something that marketers find more valuable to customers than it is in practice). It has also allowed us to explain why we do what we do differently from our competitors, creating a separation from the market. Naturally, there was the trophy slide, which included all the big logos we had in our customer portfolio.
This bridge was in service for years and faithfully updated. However, with the changing marketplace, I have begun to struggle to help my clients make the changes necessary to succeed. I knew what changes they had to make, but rather than make those changes, they would stay with their current provider or engage my company without making the changes. I was not doing a great job arguing my case and in a moment of frustration, I built a new slide deck.
The new terrace
I've built this platform with the intention of teaching my clients and dream customers why they had to change. That's what we do in sales; we help our clients change their results. If not, why play at all?
The bridge I built did not look anything like my professionally designed deck, based on best practices, as defined by marketers. It violated all the rules. Many slides contained only raw data. If it was a traditional game, you would say that it contained too much information, but I wanted the client to see it in its raw format without interpretation. The slides that followed the raw data were charts that I had created in Microsoft Excel; it was clear that I had not designed the bridge professionally because I wanted the customer to see the trend line by itself.
I've been crushing newspaper articles in Evernote for years, so I re-read those articles and captured images of titles and some money quotes. I have supported topics in sections with data and with my company's experience and internal data.
The first call
The first time I used my new deck, it was during a quarterly review of the company with an existing client in 2002. I wanted them to change their policies and their provide the context that would help them understand what I understood. The commitment to the content was excellent and I did enough work to guide them in their ideas.
My goal was to determine how trends and their implications were preventing my client from getting the results he needed. I focused on strategic outcomes and nothing else. The conversation was one of the best I had with a team of clients and we explained why they had to change. At the end of the meeting, they thought they needed to change, not because I alone convinced them. They had participated in deciding what things meant.
At the end of the meeting, one of the managers asked me if he could have a copy of the slide show. When I asked why he wanted it, he told me that he had to inform his management team later in the afternoon. I agreed to give him the slide, he thanked me, then he asked me to remove my logo.
Leaving the meeting, I realized the impact of the game on my client. I also recognized that I now have a Trojan inside my client's four walls. This not only changed the minds, but also opened the discussion on change, changes that were finally made.
Say goodbye to the old bridge
The result of the meeting using the new bridge was so much better than the old one. Nobody had ever asked for this support, and he never did anything to create the kind of commitment that the new presentation had provided. The old set of slides was lean, the client sitting passively while I talked to them. The new content was lighter content, causing the customer to ask questions, not just of me, but of each other.
Even though I had the old bridge on my laptop, I never had to use it. The new platform was more interesting for customers and sparked the kind of conversation where they discovered something about themselves.
How do I know what I know
I am grateful to have grown up in a highly competitive and highly commoditized business, the kind of environment that drives someone to learn to sell. When you can not rely on your company history, solutions, or other external factors, you become a valuable proposition. It might have been nice to have an external factor that could have facilitated the sale by creating a compelling differentiation, but I would have been deprived of work on myself.
I am not a researcher, you will certainly not know if I have read and studied what interests me, what I want to learn and what is important for my clients. I never developed theories and then went on to study them to create a framework, a book or a strategy. Everything I know, I learned to do the work myself, call prospects, make sales calls, maintain relationships and work to move my competitors. The books I read provided me with the concepts that helped me think about what I was doing, showing me things that I would not have seen if I did not see them. I had not read. Books can not teach you how to sell; they can only help you sell better.
I write from the experience of a salesman because I am one of them. Although I like research, I think research and theories are a type of knowledge and that experience is a totally different type of expertise. I only know what I know because I did it myself and because I helped others to repeat it.
Get my second book: The Lost Art of Closing
"In The lost art of the fenceAnthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest aspects of the sales process – if you have it well configured with other commitments that must be made well before closing. The key is to guide customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a stall of purchases. "
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