Today I was reading my kids one of their favourite books,
You probably already know the one, “Dear Zoo”?
And if you don’t, here’s how it goes:
A kid emails the zoo asking for a pet,
So the zoo dispatches an Elephant?!
(I know it’s pretty crazy, but hey, this is a kid’s story)
Understandably, it wasn’t the right one because it was “too big”,
So the kid raised a ticket within 30 days, and got an exchange.
(And yes, this is my embellished new-and-improved version for the information age)
They must have not understood what the kid was saying,
Because the next thing they sent was a Giraffe?!
Had it been anyone else, they probably would’ve escalated this to a manager and got the rep sacked,
But this kid was polite you see, so they slightly changed the “reason for return” from “too big” to “too tall”.
So now, the zoo figured that it must have been because both animals couldn’t fit through the door.
So this time, they sent a Lion.
The kid was horrified; he had to go back.
Reason stated: “too fierce”.
So this back and forth went on.
Each time, the zoo kept getting it wrong.
They tried everything: from camels, to snakes, to monkeys, to frogs,
But nothing would satisfy the kid?!
They were on the seventh exchange, and they’d clearly lost a lot of money on this customer.
(There’s a reason why Amazon don’t offer ‘Prime’ on pets)
So they were summoned to a meeting with a senior,
Now jobs were on the line and they really had to get it right.
So they thought long and hard about it…
They even enlisted the help of really smart people around them.
And finally, they dispatched the last animal they could think of,
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
And they waited…
7 days went by: no support ticket.
Hmm… maybe it didn’t arrive yet?
They checked the order status: “delivery confirmed”.
Can’t be that.
14 days went by: nothing came in with the kid’s name on it.
21 days: still nothing.
On the 30th day, they agreed to stay up till midnight,
Over some popcorn and soda, they kept hitting “refresh” until the last second, and still nothing!
WOOHOO, they did it!
You could hear the hi-fives from the corridor as they celebrated.
Not just because they could keep their jobs,
But because this problem had finally gone away.
They never had to worry about this transaction again.
And it’s true, the problem did go away, because the kid finally received the pet they wanted.
And both lived happily ever after…
And no, I haven’t just wasted 2 minutes of your life:
There is a point to this story which has everything to do with the growth of your business.
Aside from me having some Friday fun completely ruining a children’s classic,
There’s actually a really important sales lesson to learn here.
Before we get to it, first, let me ask you this:
Who’s at fault for this simple transaction taking such a ridiculously long time to get right: the kid’s or the zoo’s?
And more importantly:
How could this unnecessary back and forth have been prevented and “put to bed” in one step?
If you answered “the zoo’s” to the former, you’d be absolutely right, please take my seat – you should be teaching us!
As for latter, it’s literally as simple as: asking a question.
All the zoo had to do was ask: “what pet would you like?” and they could have reached the bottom of this in 2 seconds.
But they didn’t, and they suffered.
And this same mistake is being made every-single-day in sales conversations all across the world.
It happens at every stage, from beginning to end.
It’s one of the major reasons why most service-professionals and experts hate selling, and would rather watch paint dry than play one of these games of talking-tennis.
Notice if you share the same problems my clients face when they first come to me:
- Meetings that go on for hours but never end in sales
- Empty promises of callbacks and decisions that never materialise
- Endless meetings after meetings that never reach closure
- “Delays”… followed by more delays
- Lots of back and forth, but ATNA
If you can relate to any of that, and it feels like you keep getting really close, but never make it past the line, then let’s get to the bottom of why this is happening:
It’s all boils down to these two things:
- Dancing around the real issue and
- Guessing your prospect’s needs.
Just like the zoo, you could keep guessing what your prospect wants and maybe, just maybe, after a shedload of patience, effort and costly trial-and-error you might just get it right.
And even then, both of you will probably be so frustrated and exhausted with each other that you wouldn’t want to “start” working together anyway.
Or, you could “ask” and get closure right away.
So if this keeps happening to you, next time nip it in the bud with a simple question: “what are you really looking to achieve here?”
And you’ll see how you’ll both save time and reach closure, which is better for you and better for them.
As you improve your ability to ask impactful questions, you’re going to see just how much you can multiply your earnings in much less time.
Now obviously, getting good at this can take years and years. But if you want to shortcut that journey and if you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested in improving your sales results?
If so, you should check out this training video I recently recorded.
In it, I spill the beans on the 3 essential ingredients you need to get clients who pay premium rates with much less time and effort.
I also share my signature communication model that my clients are using, which covers every step necessary for your prospect to hire you within a single conversation, even if you’ve just met and you’re charging thousands for your work.
And for a limited time, you can get access to it for free. So get your own bowl of popcorn and press play here:
P.S. In case you’re still wondering what the final pet was, let me put your mind at ease: it was a dog.