Paint A New Picture


One of the most common roadblocks to a successful sale (that I’m sure many of you have run into) is the prospect or customer with unrealistic expectations. People have a tendency to expect things to be the same as they’ve always been. 

This idea reminds me of a story about a little girl who goes to the multi-generational Easter dinner and the mother is cooking ham for the family and cuts the end of the ham off, puts the ham in the pan, and puts the pan in the oven.  The little girl says, “Mommy, why do you always cut off the end of the ham before you put it in the pan and put it in the oven?”  She says, “I don’t know, that’s what my mommy always did.  Say, Grandma’s out in the parlor talking to your sister.  Why don’t you go out and ask her?”  

She goes out and asks, “Grandma, why does mommy always cut off the end of the ham before she puts it in the pan and puts it in the oven?”  Grandma says, “I don’t know, honey, that’s the way I always saw my mommy do it.  She’s outside with the dog. Why don’t you ask her?”  

So the little girl trundles out to the yard and says, “Great Grandma, why does everybody in this family cut off the end of the ham before they put it in the pan, before they put it in the oven?”  Great Grandma says, “I don’t know, child, I did it because the ham didn’t fit in my pan!” 

What does this story teach us? It teaches us that people often make decisions based on what they’re accustomed to…without grounding those decisions in reality. When it comes to justifying an efficiency project financially, this can be a problem for us as sales professionals. You may have prospects tell you that they’ll only do a project with a payback of two years or less, for example. Why do they have such unrealistic expectations? Probably because they were doing business in the ‘80s when the prime rate hit 21 percent. It’s your job to paint a new picture for them – to be the “Great Grandma” who reveals the reason for their unrealistic expectations and explains why they shouldn’t dismiss your proposal.

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By (Mark Jewell, President of Selling Energy | | | communication, prospecting, sales professionalism, sales tips |
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