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The Surprised Soldier

May 18, 2023

Do you remember, at least back in the day, how we were taught the ABCs of selling?


The strategy was basically to spend a few minutes acting like you give a damn about the customer and then start pounding them for the sale, right? Just pounding them in the ground. Well, that doesn’t work anymore because homeowners, customers in general, are way too sophisticated.

And that’s true partly because there’s so much information on the internet.

You know, 10 years ago, when you walked into the house, the homeowner was looking at you for the information. You were the educator. Now you walk into the house and the homeowner has as much information as you do because they’ve done their research. And of course, a lot of their information is wrong, but they think they know what’s going on so you’re up against that right off the bat.

Inverse Proportion

So the old days of just kind of pounding people into submission isn’t going to work. We have to be more sophisticated, more professional. So part of that process means that instead of spending 10% of your time building a relationship and 90% of your time closing, we flip that around.

We want to spend 90% of our time educating, building the relationship, earning trust, and then the closing becomes very easy. Now, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy every time you first ask for the deal. That’s not what I mean. If you set everything up right up in the first 90% of the call, then it creates a lot less effort in the closing.

So in terms of laying the groundwork, that goes back to the core training learned in Profit Paradigm. We talk about walking down the sales hallway and closing doors. We close the “It’s too expensive” door and we close the “I need 3 bids” door. When we get to the end, we are going to use everything that we’ve discussed with the homeowner, the entire arsenal we’ve built over the course of the 60-90 minutes we’ve been there.

I used to have a comfort advisor I worked with, a wonderful guy who recently passed away. He was a military guy, an Army guy. And when we would talk about going into the close and having all your tools ready, he would use a battle metaphor to explain how he processed it.

He said, “You know, when we were in the service and we went into a battle to try to take a hill from the enemy, you’d better have all your ammunition with you, right? You got to have all your guns, all your ammunition, all your personnel, all your plans. You’ve got to have everything you need.”

The Surprised Soldier

Now if you get to the top of that hill and the enemy just retreats, well, you didn’t even need all of it, right? You may not have needed your guns or your ammunition. You may not have needed all your personnel or your plans. You may have just had sheer luck this time or they could have just changed their tactic. But you didn’t know that ahead of time. You have to bring it anyway because if you get there and your enemy does not retreat, then you’re going to have a gunfight. And in the middle of a gunfight, you can’t run back down the hill to get your stuff.

You can’t decide, ‘Oh, I’m going to need my stuff after all. Let me run back down the hill and get the guns and the weapons. You guys don’t mind waiting, do you?’ It’s too late. You’d get shot in the back. You don’t want to be a surprised soldier caught off guard.”

Well, sales can be a lot like that as you go through the process. The first 60-90 minutes you’re building your relationship, you’re doing your thorough investigation. You’re closing all the doors to all the objections. That’s gathering all your ammunition.

Time Really Is Money

And it takes time to do that. And because it takes time, sometimes salespeople don’t want to do it. They want to just walk in the house, look around and start dropping off a proposal and see if they get to deal or not. You have to invest time into the relationship, into the investigation. You’ve got to invest a lot of time gathering all this ammunition.

Now you might get down to the close and ask for the deal and it might be the so-called lay down, right? You ask one time and they say “Yes” and you’re like, “Damn, I didn’t need all that information. I didn’t have to get that ammunition. I spent an hour, I could have asked them for the order an hour ago and they probably would have said yes.”

Well, that’s a mistake because if you happen to need that ammunition to overcome the objections, you can’t run back down the hill and get them. You’ve got to take them with you every single time. The ammunition is what will help you overcome any objections to buying. Questions and objections come, not surprisingly, during all parts of the sale, even with pen in hand and a partial signature on paper.

In Sales, There Is No A For Effort

You have to extend yourself emotionally and professionally on every single call without knowing whether or not you’re going to get to deal. You have to put all the effort in up front. I teach salespeople that you’ve got to run every call with passion and purpose. The reason you’ll be successful in the end is not because you’re so good at closing; it’s because you’ll put in all your effort, all your time, all your relationship building and investigation up front.

You have to be willing to make the sacrifice to always do that hard work. You’ll be glad you brought the ammunition in the end. Even if you think you don’t need it.