What I’ve learned about cats is that most people either love them or hate them. Whether you love them or leave them, there is one thing we all must agree on when it comes to cats – they do what they want to do, when they want to do it. It’s called feline indifference. You want to play with your cat? It’s not happening unless you have string, a feather, a treat or a mouse and never unless they want to play.
Several weeks ago, I met the human equivalent of a cat. Her name is “Nora.”
Nora is the sales person for an event center. A colleague and I are delivering a series of seminars and Nora contacted us to see if we would be interested in holding our seminars at her venue. We have been using a fabulous facility, but decided to explore our options and agreed to meet her and take a tour.
Impressive? To say the least. We imagined ourselves on stage Tony Robbins style getting the crowd pumped up and ready to explode with new ways to use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for their businesses. But then I fell from heaven to earth when I heard about the equipment costs and administration fees. I was shocked because our current facility was not charging for either and I told her so. Her response, “Good for them and good for you.” (Meow)
We found ourselves sitting in her office as she worked on a quote for us. The cat lady paused, looked me in the eye and said, “You know, if you are getting such a great deal at the other place, maybe you should just stick with them.” (Double Meow)
Ooookay. At first I thought this was her negotiating strategy; you know, don’t show desperation, be willing to walk away if the deal isn’t good enough. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt. But then these crazy words came out of her mouth. It’s how the cat killed the deal.
“We just went through “xyzx’s” training program and they taught us that we need to feel comfortable with walking away if you aren’t interested in using us. They helped me realize that our venue is not for everyone and if you’re not willing to pay our prices, then it probably is not for you. We really don’t need your business, so ultimately the decision is yours.”
Wow. We made our decision before we stepped out of her office.
If you’re in business, you want sales and if selling does not come naturally to you, you are probably reading/listening/watching everything you can to learn how to do it better. So what can learn from this? What happened here? How did she go so wrong?
1. Your customers care that you care. Be concerned with their needs. Be understanding of their budgets. Know what things you can negotiate and which ones you can’t. And for those you can’t, be empathetic.
2. If you find yourself needing to justify your behaviors, take a second look at what you are doing. There are plenty of trainers and training companies ready to teach you the best new thing in sales, but that doesn’t mean they are right. Training either resonates with you or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, guess what? Your customers will see right through it.
3. Finally, indifference may work for cats, but it doesn’t work in sales; in fact, it ticks people off. Desperation for a sale is on one extreme of the spectrum and indifference is on the other. Find a balance in between the two. How? Take your mind off closing the sale and concentrate on building a relationship.
Nora was a genuinely nice person, but she just didn’t get it. What do you think?