“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” – Zig Ziglar
This post is expressly written for those entrepreneurs who close deals directly. Face to face, over the phone or even via email – direct selling is still the best way to convince prospects to part with large sums of money for high value product, service or experience.
If you’re an exclusively online entrepreneur or sell something so transactional (groceries) that no direct selling is needed, then this article is also for you. For you (and all of us), sales skill is what gets you your killer network (selling yourself), your affiliate deals and funding if necessary.
Every entrepreneur must master sales. Quickly. This post reveals the biggest shortcut of them all.
The big mistake newbies make
I’ve met many skillful sales people and many terrible ones. The big difference boils down to a naive attitude that some call “the crocodile approach”. This is when a clueless sales person hangs onto a dead prospect, calling them, visiting, emailing and generally never letting go. The idea is, if you bite the ankle of an antelope and hold on like a vice grip… eventually you’ll get a meal.
The crocodile tactic actually works sometimes. Lots of sales training material will inform you that “staying in touch” and “several points of contact” is what’s required to close deals. From a certain perspective that is correct.
However, the crocodile gets exhausted. It doesn’t have energy for anything besides one massive tussle with a single antelope. It’s not efficient hunting.
Let’s be honest. Viewing sales interaction as a predator/prey thing feels… icky.
Adopt a crocodile mindset and you’ll condition yourself to believe that every sale has to be a massive, bloody struggle. You’ll miss out on the “antelope” that are queuing up to feed you voluntarily – they exist, but we’ll leave the metaphor there.
The lazy entrepreneurs sales tactic
“Obstacles” prevent sales happening. They’re objections and real situations in the prospect’s life that derail the sales process. The intention of the tactic described above (and hundreds of others) is to hold on long enough to disarm a prospect of these obstacles. It’s hard work.
The lazy entrepreneur simply seeks prospects who never had them in the first place.
Zig Ziglar said:
“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”
The lazy (but smart) entrepreneur casts her prospecting net wide. She thinks carefully about the people who naturally lack these obstacles. She plots and schemes and figures out exactly where to go to find them.
When you discover a prospect who has both need, money, hurry and desire… your sales challenge is simply to create trust. In some cases, this is doable through a killer powerpoint presentation. Sometimes a solid testimonial is needed. Sometimes a firm handshake is all that is required.
Selling to people already have the need, money, hurry and desire is pleasurable – for both you and the prospect. They know they’re there to buy. They want to meet someone who can help them do that. They want what you’ve got and, this part is key – they want to be seduced into making a decision today.
The lazy entrepreneur doesn’t waste time working with prospects who need to be convinced that they can afford something. They don’t bother trying to explain why today is the day to buy – as opposed to “next month”.
The lazy entrepreneur learns to spot the signs of Ziglar’s five basic obstacle – from miles off. The lazy entrepreneur zeros in on only the prospects who don’t have them.
The smart dealer of luxury cars realizes his showroom is an art gallery – that it attracts people who just want to ogle nice cars. He focuses instead on those folks who’ve convinced themselves they need to act now, who turn up to the showroom in a Mercedes. The Mercedes is like a neon arrow above the prospect that reads: “Hi! I have the money AND the desire for this product. Come talk to me!”
The counter example is the newbie car salesman, who fails to notice his prospect arrive in a Honda. He then spends an hour describing the features of a two hundred thousand dollar Ferrari to an enthusiast who’s never spent more than $25k on a vehicle.
How does this apply to you?
No matter your industry, pitch or product… you can make double in half the time by making your sales strategy more efficient.
The first step is to get clear on what the defining, observable indicators of the five basic obstacles are. How do you know if your prospects are:
- Really needing what you’ve got?
- Able to afford it?
- In a rush to get things done now?
- Salivating in desire?
- Believing you’re gonna take care of them? (trust)
You need to be able to answer that question. If you haven’t yet figured out a way to spot these indicators in your industry/niche, then this is the ultimate low-hanging opportunity. Spotting these before you waste time with going-nowhere interactions will speed up your sales cycle (and thus overall success) enormously.
I use this tactic for selling my consulting services, which is direct sales via (mainly) email. Here’s how I pre-screen the five obstacles…
- I make it time consuming for people to get in touch (filling out my Become a Client form, for example).
- I pay very close attention to the spelling, grammar and email signatures of those who do get in touch. These are all huge indicators of education, experience and thus income level.
- I respond to people who say things like “Help!” very rapidly. In my game, when an entrepreneur needs urgent shrinking… they’ll tell me.
- I use the blog and my testimonials to create anticipation and desire for transformation of results.
- Ditto trust. This blog is a window into my world (hanging with me on twitter – dangerously more so). Like all bloggers, I let a bit of personality hang out to establish myself as a real person.
It may sound cynical to think of it like this, but it’s really a high-integrity, respect way to market.
I’ve carefully built my online presence so that I get very few inquiries from people who have more than one obstacle. Sure, I sometimes have to create a bit of extra desire. Sometimes I have to talk NDAs to create that extra level of trust.
The point is, I’m never pitching people who need to be convinced on each of the five points. I don’t have the time.
Neither do you.
Build a business and sales funnel that allows you to spot high-quality, fast moving prospects a mile off.
Commit to only investing your time and energy pitching prospects who need to overcome just one obstacle.
Be smart, be lazy. Your prospects will thank you for it, while you do twice as well in half the time.