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For many years I’ve been teaching and preaching a philosophy called the “my guy philosophy”. The basis of this thought is that for ever vendor provided service people always have their guy or gal and as long as they are providing even average service at a competitive price; they will continue to utilize the services of that vendor. Another ideal that I’ve bantered about has been that of the “bench philosophy” which states that once a salesperson find a prospect with their guy or gal, they should keep in constant contact via various means to position yourself first on their bench or make yourself or company their next logical choice. While these two ideals sound fine, they are wrong. They are so wrong that if you follow these “rules” you are limiting yourself, your company, and doing a disservice to every prospect you have ever or will ever call upon. Let me explain…
There are many problems with the my guy philosophy. First, think for a moment about your own client base. How many of your own clients truly love you? I mean, would go to war for you. The clients I’m describing are the clients that if a competitor calls will say no thank you we’re happy, don’t have time, busy, my current vendor is a family member, etc. Would you guess half, seventy five percent? With all due respect, depending upon the quality of your services, you probably have no more than 25% of your client base that is truly in love with you and your company. The other 75% will say they have their guy…but if called upon by a professional sales person in your industry, they can be converted from prospect to client for this “new guy”. Now, think about that, if 75% of your clients are always out on the market, would it not seem reasonable that 75% of your competitor’s clients are on the market as well?
Another problem with the guy philosophy is that clients have a hard time telling the truth when it comes to answering a sales persons questions. In an initial qualifying interview when asked about ones current vendor, it is very easy for a client to simply say, they are doing a great job. It’s easy, it’s painless, and it’s an easy way to get this salesperson out of their office. Usually during the initial interview, a few surface questions are asked, the prospect says “just fine, they are great, no problems…etc”. If one’s mindset is “the my guy philosophy” they will quickly deem that this prospect has their guy and end the sales call by explaining the bench philosophy. They will tell the prospect that over the next few months they will receive propaganda from their company and a call every few months to make sure that they are still happy with “their guy”. The sales call quickly ends and the prospect moves on with their day and the salesperson is happy that they have positioned themselves firmly on this client’s bench.
The truth in the above scenario is that the salesperson was probably weak in identifying the prospects pain and blew yet another opportunity to gain a client. Let’s replay the above. Salesperson starts the appointment with the all important rapport. Once comfortable they begin asking questions that traditionally are issues with the salespersons service and the prospects industry. Since NO relationship is perfect, if enough questions are asked, soon the client will identify a pain, BUT this is not the real pain, this is only the sneeze that indicates a full blown flu. In order to diagnose the fact the prospect has the flu; the salesperson must begin asking a series of questions that lead the prospect from sneeze to realizing they are sicker than they have ever been. Let me be clear, this process is not enjoyable for a prospect. It’s painful for the prospect, they will at times get very upset, they will get emotional, and they may even curse. Realizing that you are sick when you thought you were well is very uncomfortable, but if the medicine for that sickness is sitting in their office, they will quickly realize that making a change will make them well again.
The my guy philosophy is a wimp’s approach to professional selling. It is a philosophy that will allow for a decent living of any sales person in any industry, but will not push that person to excellence and into the top performers of their industry. The my guy philosophy is based upon the fact that people buy intellectually when in fact, people buy emotionally. People don’t buy ones proposals, product knowledge, or even price; they buy the feeling that what the new person offers heals their pain. They key to the “non my guy philosophy” is finding a prospects pain, healing that pain, and then showing them love until the next professional comes along and identifies the fact that you’re not so perfect either!
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