Sales are not Tim’s Gum

One eye-opening experience I had in first grade taught me a lesson about human nature that has stayed with me today. A fellow classmate, Tim – a timid and honest boy- had drifted off into his head, away from the lesson. Our teacher, Mrs. Showalter, noticed this. To bring him back into the moment with the rest of us, she simply called him by name.

“Tim,” Mrs. Showalter said.

“Gum,” was his immediate response as his face turned crimson.

“Excuse me?” Mrs. Showalter remarked, her eyes big and her mouth almost laughing.

We first-graders watched Mrs. Showalter regain her composure and stole looks at Tim as he covered his mouth, wondering whether Mrs. Showalter had discovered he was chewing gum in class before he confessed.

“Gum”, Tim repeated.

“I see. You have gum in your mouth. Tim, would you please remove the gum from your mouth and throw it away? I believe it’s time you pay attention again.”

“Yes, ma’m.”

We watched Tim slide out of his desk, pull the gum from his mouth and saunter to the wastebasket, hanging his head. Sheepishly he deposited the gum and apologized. “I’m sorry, ma’m.” Whether he was sorry he brought attention to his crime or really sorry he attempted to chew gum in class, we don’t know.

I have a feeling Tim was not enjoying his stick of gum, having to chew it on the sly, hoping dear Mrs. Showalter didn’t discover it. That stick of gum probably lost its flavor quickly.

Here is what I learned. Whatever bothers us stays so top of mind that we cannot focus on anything but it. As a result, we teeter between being stuck in our head with or blurting out those things causing us pain.

Like Tim, we business developers who focus only on our discomfort with asking for the sale either never make the ask or do so awkwardly. The problem is, we generally are not with kind and compassionate Mrs. Showalters who recognize our discomfort and help us save face. Instead, we are with folks who really stand to benefit from our services but may no longer appreciate their value if what we need to say doesn’t smoothly happen. It simply appears like we feel guilty about selling something that isn’t worth the value.

When asking for the sale feels like chewing gum when it isn’t allowed, there is very little enjoyment on either side of the table. Creating discomfort is not the purpose of sales. Instead, realize that NOT asking for the sale creates discomfort. NOT asking for the sale when others clearly want to buy keeps others in their limited state. NOT asking for the sale stops the benefits from flowing. NOT asking for the sale is something to be embarrassed by.

So ask for the sale.

Tips for Asking for the Sale
1. See the value you are offering your prospect
2. Share your enthusiasm for this exchange of dollars for goods
3. Congratulate your client for seeing the value

Young Tim was wise enough to know his gum wasn’t worth the embarrassment in front of Mrs. Showalter. But your services don’t compare. Sales are not Tim’s gum in Mrs. Showalter’s class. Your services are worth every dollar you request. See the value, share your enthusiasm and congratulate your client for seeing the value as well.

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On March 28th, 2012, posted in: attorneys, introverts, sales by