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Lessons from the Lion Tamer: Power, Bearing, and Why Johnny Can't Sell (Part 2 of 5)

by Michael Webb | Comments (0)
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Last week I told you one example of how you can "get the cats on the boxes." This week I'll show you some other ways salespeople can get some power.

Where Do Your Salespeople Get Power?
I use Dan Kennedy as an example because he is so focused on power and control in his sales technique. One of the most influential books he cites is "Winning through Intimidation," by Robert J. Ringer (I also recommend this book, which is available on Amazon). Power can come from a variety of sources, including Brand, Proof of Superiority, and Bearing.

1) Brand
Years ago I worked for a "no-name" computer company. I was up against IBM constantly. Famous for its dominance of the mainframe computer business, IBM salespeople could get into a company president's office more easily than I could. IBM's name recognition gave them a degree of power.

Today, companies spend lots of advertising money to promote their company's name. Smaller companies leverage social networks and articles on the Internet to be as ubiquitous as possible. Brands and familiarity work because they make it easier for people to choose.

However, brands are weak and temporary unless backed up by truth.

2) Proof of Superiority
For example, once those salespeople were in that small company President's office, what the IBM salesperson could say versus what I could say made a heck of a difference. IBM was selling batch-type machines (a little better than punched cards). We were selling interactive machines, which were a whole new world.

Instead of updating batches of data once per day, interactive systems updated immediately. When someone entered an order for a muffler, for example, the inventory status was immediately changed from 2 available to 1 available plus 1 "committed." Because this made inventory records more accurate, there were fewer mistakes, and the company could generate more revenue with less inventory on hand, which was a huge expense reduction. At one point in time, naming the local business owners who were already benefiting from this new technology was all it took to give me power over IBM.

Proof of your value, especially when other people say it, is the best method available to improve credibility. If it demonstrates an exceptional difference, it generates exceptional power.

Next week in part 3, we'll discuss one of the most important elements of power, the "bearing" your salespeople bring to the job.

Michael J. Webb
July 1, 2008

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