I had a really interesting conversation the other day. Ultimately, it was somewhat frustrating, but interesting nonetheless.
My cousin, Cindy, had a friend of hers call me for advice. This gentleman was looking for help. Seems he wants to make a difference in America’s classrooms and has a powerful message to deliver. The problem is, schools in the Illinois area don’t have any money, so he is having trouble getting in front of kids. Here’s part of the dialogue. See if you can find the flaw in his thinking:
Mark: “School administrators should care deeply about the welfare and future of these kids and my message has had a tremendous impact on the kids that I’ve worked with and spoken to. When I give my sales pitch, they are all interested. However, that interest never seems to turn into a speaking gig and I just don’t understand why that is.”
Did you find it? I’ll give you a hint: It’s in two of the first four words.
Growing up with me as their father, my three daughters became experts at getting what they wanted. It wasn’t because they were cute and it wasn’t because they had their daddy wrapped around their fingers. Although both of those things are true, they got what they wanted because they understood the universal truth of sales: You can figure out what you want when you figure out what the other guy wants and help him to get it.
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, written in 1936 made that statement and despite the fact that he wasn’t talking to us salespeople, there is no higher truth than that.
Back to Mark…
My advice to Mark was to re-examine those first four words. He’s not wrong, of course. School administrators should care deeply, but is that truly what’s keeping them up at night? Perhaps Mark should rethink his approach and speak not in terms of what he wants but rather in terms of what they want and then talk about how his message is their solution.
Regardless of whether you want to get a free room upgrade, talk your way out of a speeding ticket, secure preferential seating at a restaurant, or, oh I don’t know, sell more printing, remember Dale Carnegie’s words and then do what my daughters did: Apply them.
Oh, one more thing…
Why was this conversation frustrating to me? It reminds me of an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Calvin, a precocious young boy, has set up a lemonade stand-style shop in his front yard. The sign of the top of his stand reads, ‘A swift kick in the butt, $1.’ Hobbes, his imaginary tiger, wanders over and asks, ‘How’s business?’ Calvin, looking disgusted, answers, ‘Terrible, and I don’t understand why. After all, everyone I know needs what I’m selling.’”
As a sales trainer, I understand that feeling firsthand!
Check out Bill’s new website, cleverly named BillFarquharson.com for more information on his training programs, books, and additional free content. Bill can be reached at 781-934-7036 or