Best Experienced With: REM; Wendell Gee
(please right click on the link below to cue up the suggested background music for this treatise in a new window)
When interviewing for surgical sales jobs in the late 1980’s, I had the misfortune of having not one, not two, but three hiring managers look me in the eye, hand me their gold Cross pen they got for high school graduation and say “sell me this pen”.
Being me, I started with a series of questions. “How do you think this pen would look shoved into your eye socket”? “Shall we see”? “Do you think your shirt will get ruined when blood gets on it”? The only thing more demeaning than that silly “sell me this pen” comment in a professional sales interview would be to drop the pen on the ground and say “hey, pick up my pen and bring me a donut”. Please never say that to a sales candidate when you are interviewing them? Thanks!
With that in mind, let’s keep that idea, but make it more interesting. 67% of your time as a professional sales or marketing person should be spent asking questions. In this role play, you are the sales or marketing professional from a boutique company specializing in dinosaurs.
I am in the market for a dinosaur. We have spoken once on the phone when you teleprospected and asked me the magic question: “Mully, will you be upgrading your current dinosaur or buying additional dinosaurs any time in the next twenty years”? I laughed, said “of course I will need additional dinosaurs in the next twenty years” and asked you to send me information and a quote.
You, being a sales professional, asked for twenty-one minutes of my time to get a better understanding of my dinosaur needs. You explained that you would bring information and then provide a budgetary quote after more closely assessing my dinosaur needs. This is how our twenty-one minute conversation went.
ME: Well, hello you. Have a seat. Tell me all about your wonderful dinosaurs and why they are better than all other dinosaurs!
YOU: Mully, if it is OK with you, would very much like to spend these twenty-one minutes discussing you and what your needs are.
ME: Sure. Hey, pick up my pen and get me a donut. Just kidding.
YOU: Do you have any dinosaurs right now and would you please tell me all about them? What you love about them, little things that you may not love. How long have you had these dinosaurs, where you got them, etc?
ME: Well, we bought our first dinosaur, a pachycephalosaurus about fifteen years ago and added a triceratops to the mix five years ago. Bought both of them from Bobby at Dinorama. They are well behaved and live back there in the yard.
YOU: Anything you would add to those dinosaurs? Anything different you are looking for in your next dinosaur?
ME: Well, we are running out of trees. Maybe our next dinosaur could eat meat or fish? I could put a pond in back there and some of the neighbor kids have been annoying the heck out of me.
YOU: Noted. Have you budgeted for dinosaurs this year and if so, what ballpark is the budget?
ME: We have budgeted for a new dinosaur in 2011 and it’s somewhere between $450,000 and $700,000.
YOU: Beginning of 2011 or end of 2011?
ME: Sorry, but it’s at the end of 2011.
YOU: No worries at all: you buy when you want to buy. A time frame like that will give us more time to get to know each other and allow you to make a well informed decision on your next dinosaur. I have a long event horizon. Oh, and is the ballpark closer to $450,000 or closer to $700,000?
ME: It’s closer to $700,000. I like your shoes. Are those Velcro straps?
YOU: Thanks. Yes, they are. It appears that you are somewhat maxed out on room in your back yard. Have you ever thought about a flying dinosaur from the Pterosaur family?
ME: Oh heck no, those Pterodactyls are way too much dinosaur for us. We already have a dang triceratops. That’s crazy talk!
YOU: So, having a smaller dinosaur next time would be important? I understand how you feel. Many folks felt that a Pterosaur would be very big and what they found was that within that family there are many smaller, more easily managed flying dinosaurs. Would you like to hear about a few of the smaller flying dinosaurs? And do you prefer colorful flying dinsosaurs or a more sedate flying dinosaur?
ME: Sure! Would you like some Razzles? I am going to have some. Colorful dinosaurs, like my Razzles, would be wonderful.
YOU: No thank you. Other families with limited space and two full grown herbivore dinosaurs such as yours have been most interested in the European Dorygnathus or the Central American Dimorphodon. Not only are they compact flying dinosaurs, they are easy on the eyes and they can teach you French, German, and Spanish!
YOU: Mully, we have been chatting for twenty-five minutes and I promised you that this meeting would go not longer than twenty-one. I will be back in this city in two weeks. How about if we schedule an hour meeting then? It will give me time to process all this fantastic information you have shared.
ME: Fantastic! Please bring information on your line of Velociraptors when you return? I love me some Velociraptors.
(As we finished, you took all your stuff and rapidly exited my office….not hanging there to make small talk and make me feel uncomfortable. You were in, you asked questions, took notes and POOF, you were gone. Perfect!)
Great job there, you! That was a perfect first meeting with a prospective customer. You found out what I already owned, what I liked and would want to add in my next dinosaur purchase. You qualified me on how much I had budgeted for my next dinsosaur and, more important, when I had this in my budget. You did not mention Bobby or Dinorama at all, knowing that this is a sign of weakness and fear. Sell your product, based upon the individual needs and budget of your customer. Bravo!
You used “feel, felt, found” properly when I told you that thinking of flying dinosaurs were crazy talk. Most important, you left on time and respected my day. With an anticipate purchase date (APD) and an anticipated shipment date (ASD) of Q4, 2011, we have plenty of time to have further discussions. Be bright, be brief and be gone….especially at your first meeting with a prospective customer.
Well done, you! Thanks for stopping by and sharing some time in The Attic. Isn’t that an amazing song? One of the most underappreciated REM songs of all time. Beautiful song with gorgeous lyrics.
The Mind of Mully
If the wind were colored
And if the air could speak
Whistle as the wind blows
Whistle as the wind blows, with me.
(Guess which book we used last night and today?)