Warning or Example?

Some of us are warnings, some of us are examples. Everyone is always glad to see you; some when you arrive, others when you leave. Sounds a little like something Mark Twain would have written.

I was reading some of Samuel Clemens again recently at the library located at the Stehekin Valley Ranch last weekend. Like Winston Churchill, Samuel Clemens (aka, Mark Twain) always makes me smile, at times, laugh out loud.

Owen Wister recounted a story Twain told him about attending church one Sunday in Hartford, Connecticut many years ago. He began:

A missionary preached that morning. His voice was beautiful. He told me of the sufferings of the natives, he pleaded for help with such moving simplicity that Mark Twain mentally doubled the fifty cents he had intended to put in the plate. As the address proceeded, describing so pitifully the misery of the savages, the dollar in his mind gradually rose to five. A little farther along, the missionary had him crying. He felt that all the cash he carried about him would be insufficient and decided to write a large check.

“And then the preacher went on,” said Twain, suddenly whirling on me and coming to a standstill, and falling into a drawl. “Went on about the dreadful state of those natives. I abandoned the idea of the check. And he went on. And he went on. And when the plate came around, I took ten cents out of it!”

The trap many sales people fall into is knowing when to stop talking. The window of opportunity opens, if we wait too long, and keep talking about our product or service, it eventually closes. Reading the prospect’s body language is critical. Following instincts and intuition and trying a trial close is a skill to be tested and tried. Knowing when to stop talking and asking for the sale is something every new sales rep needs to develop.

As another story goes, the young, ambitious, newly hired sales rep burst into the seasoned Sales Manager’s office his second week on the job and exclaimed, “I want to be successful like you! You have the plaques on the wall and have won all the awards. Tell me in one sentence exactly what I need to be successful. I am ready to learn and close some business!” The seasoned Sales Manager smiled. He said simply, “Grab your journal. I will give the wisdom of my experience.” The young rep smiled, and said, “Ready!” Pausing for effect, the Sales Manager said simply, “All you need is good judgment.” The rep wrote that down and asked, “How do I get that?” “Experience,” the Manager said with some bemusement. “How do I get that?” the rep inquired. “Bad judgment! Now go get ‘em!”

Are your prospects glad to see you upon your arrival or departure? Are you the warning or the example? You can tell if they are taking ten cents out of your plate! Now go get ‘em!

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