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Are you a Salesman or a Fireman? – Part One

Are you a Salesman or a Fireman? – Part One

12Dec

This is part one of a two-part series by D2 coach Sherrie English.

Scenario One
You’re sitting in your house and some guy knocks on the door. He’s dressed in waterproof clothes and has an axe and a giant truck with a water hose. He says he wants to chop holes in your roof and spray your entire house down with water. You’re probably going to say no, right?

Scenario Two
Now imagine the same exact scenario, but this time when you answer the door he says, “Please step outside right away.” When you look back at your house you see smoke billowing skyward, the upper floor has flames shooting out the windows and your children are up there.

How badly do you want him to chop holes in your roof and douse your entire house with water now? What was the difference in your answer? You recognized you had a problem, and you needed a solution. Urgently.

No one considers firemen to be salesmen, because they recognize that firemen are there to provide a solution to a huge problem.

Traditional “sales” doesn’t take into account what the client wants or needs, only what product the salesman is pushing. Ask any random group of people what words come to their heads when they think of a “salesman” and you’ll hear things like “pushy”, “obnoxious”, “shallow”, “liars” and worse.

But what words come to mind if you ask that same group of people about firemen? “Hero”, “strong”, “brave”, “hunky”, “lifesaver”.

Which would you rather be? Who would people rather work with?

The more you can approach potential clients like a fireman who is solving a problem (and less like a salesman who is only pushing a product), the better you each will feel about the process of buying.

People want things that make their lives better and easier. Last year alone, the world bought goods and services worth $77.88 Trillion. That’s a lot of stuff that got bought from someone. So how to bridge the gap between people who want to buy something that makes their lives better in some way, and people who have something to sell without being obnoxious?

The key is to find the problem that needs to be fixed urgently. How do we do that?

Stop talking and start asking questions.
High-quality questions can give you insight into what they really want to buy, or even better, what they need.

If you truly believe you can help someone fix a problem that is hurting them, wouldn’t you feel good about letting them know? What if, much like Scenario Two above, they didn’t even know they had a problem? How can you help them then?

By asking questions, staying curious, and uncovering what the person wants, we can figure out where the fire is in their lives. If you ask the right questions, listen closely and have the expertise, you can point out the potential dangers before it’s too late for them to fix the issues.

Where There’s Smoke
In today’s world, many successful career people haven’t thought through what it will really take for them to retire. They go to work each day to pay their bills and then rush home to enjoy their lives and families. They believe that much like their parents, retirement will somehow just happen. But their parents came from a different era. They worked for one company for an extended period of time and then that company paid for their pension. In the early ’80s, 60% of private companies had pension plans. Today that number is 4%. The burden for funding retirement has shifted from the company to the individual. And the individual isn’t ready.
The latest research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the median retirement account savings for a family between the ages of 50-55 is $8,000. The mean is skewed by the super savers to an average of $124,000. This year savings dropped by 6%, so these numbers aren’t growing, they’re shrinking.

By the time the average worker reaches age 67, the industry rule of thumb is that they’ll need roughly 10 times their final salary in savings. The median income in the US is $46,409, so the median worker will need about half a million dollars to live the same lifestyle.

They have $8,000.

Their house is on fire, and they don’t even know it. You can be the fireman, saving their homes and families – if you start asking the right questions.
So where to start? At the beginning.

The basic thought process is to find out where they want to go and why what’s stopping them from getting there and what they’ve tried to do already. Then discover if they really want to fix what’s stopping them from moving forward.

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