Don’t get too smart…
My wife and I had dinner last night with two friends who are also in the consulting and training business. We spent most of the night sharing war stories and catching up on recent business events. One of my friends has had great success in selling to the military. Her program for military recruiters is one of the most successful ever and has helped the recruiters show many young people a great path to a wonderful future.
During the conversation, I mentioned that I have trouble when I work with the military because I can’t keep all the ranks straight. A Captain in the Army and a Captain in the Navy, for example, are at very different levels. My friend admitted having the same issue, and then said something very profound. She said, “I don’t really want to get to know them that well”. She went on to explain that her job was to bring them an outside perspective and not to become one of them.
That’s a lesson for all of us!
Our job is to understand our client well enough to bring them solutions, but not to get so deeply involved that we become one of them. I’ve heard sales people who have worked with a particular client for so long that they know exactly what will and won’t work. They are paralyzed by their knowledge. Amazingly, when we change sales people on the account, opportunities pop up everywhere.
The new sales person was dumber!
That’s right, dumber can work better than smarter if it means that you are still open to charging into situations that might mean new business or asking questions that others think they already know the answers to.
Are you too smart?
Do you already know what can’t work and what the client absolutely won’t do? Listen to yourself. Listen to the conversations you have with your manager about the account. Are you justifying the lack of business with your knowledge of the situation? What if you are wrong? What if the situation has changed? What if you read it wrong in the first place?
It’s time for Columbo.
Remember the Peter Falk character of Lieutenant Columbo? His genius was in his ability to not know the answers and to ‘play dumb’. Only then did he find the real solution to the crime.
What do you know that might not be true? What situation have you prevented yourself from pursuing? Today is your day to make a change and open up the doors that you yourself have closed. The opportunities may be right in front of you.
Be a little dumber today and let me know what opportunities you find!
Wishing you great Selling Success,
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