Have you ever noticed that sometimes selling is like playing a never-ending game of hide-and-seek, except the prospects are world champions in hiding what they really and truly desire? Just when you quote them a solution, the rug gets pulled out from under you and you have to restart! What a pain, right? With that said it’s easy to forget the golden rule; he who has the gold, rules. But lest we forget since the buyers are the ones with the money, it matters more to them to get the decision right. Forcing them to make a decision with a showing of strength and command is a misguided closing approach. More often than not, showing weakness vs strength is the ticket for success.
Some in sales think strength will win the day,
but strength will break
where weakness remains intact.
An oak tree is stronger than a blade of grass,
Yet storms can uproot it in a moment
while the grass remains.
With flexibility, match the prospect’s personality.
Warm, if they want warm.
Professional, if they want professional.
Follow their tone, speed, and pace.
Whatever they want.
Whatever they need.
In deference find strength
and in surrender success.
Chris returned to the office in frustration and when seeing Pat said, “When I first met Lee’s team they told me their challenge and I recommended Layout 1. It’s the right choice. But then Lee changed the requirement so I gave them a quote for a Layout 2. Today they change requirements again, which sounds like a Layout 3, yet I still think Layout 1 is the right choice. It’s so frustrating. This entire deal is turning out to be an act of self-flagellation.”
Pat couldn’t help but laugh and said, “I can understand your impatience but your strong conviction on quoting Layout 1 is jeopardizing your deal.”
“How so?” said Chris.
“You’re being inflexible. You forget that it’s Lee’s company that’s paying for the product. You don’t work there, nor do you have access to their books. It’s presumptive for you to assume what’s best for them.”
Chris blinked then Pat went on. “You need to be like water. Consider when you pour water into a container it conforms and takes its shape. Instead of being stiff in our opinions, it’s better to remain loose and supple during the negotiations.”
“I see,” said Chris.
“Yes,” said Pat. “It’s by yielding to the prospect’s concerns, you create space for the solution to become self-evident. Relent for the opportunity of reward.
In chapter 76 of the Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu said,
Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.
Not all deals are life-and-death situations. But deals do have a life of their own and when we fail to accommodate the buyer, deals have a way of vanishing.
The philosopher Albert Camus said,
Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
This is also true for sellers. Being strong needn’t mean being stiff. Sometimes strength can be found in weakening your grip.
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