Whenever I go to a new sales seminar I always go with my guard up and my credit card close. You would think as a salesman I would really be into finding out all the new ways of manipulating my clients and friends to further my sales career. But, as it turns out the reason I go is to get an emotional lift and mingle with my friends. Not that these seminars are not inspirational and informative. It's that there is always a big pitch at the end when the headliner announces that they are cutting the price in half today only if you signup for their monthly program to learn how to sell their "way" before you leave.
Everything a good salesperson needs to know can be learned in 2-minutes, completely for free. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with this knowledge in the form off a story my father told me when I was 14.
Bruce Lee was a very successful teacher and businessman before becoming a movie star. He had over 10 studios where he taught his way of fighting. If you came at him with a clinched right fist, he had a specific defensive move to counter it. If you wanted to go on the offensive he would teach you how to throw a specific kick or punch. After many successful years of teaching and developing his way of fighting he abruptly closed all of his studios. Nobody knows what triggered his sudden change of heart. But, when he reopened his studios he had a new way and a new gold medallion.
On the back of this new medallion was an inscription that read "having no way, as way, is way". In Bruce's life and training he had always been taught by masters in his craft, each one having a "way" of fighting. The thing that Bruce realized after he came up with his own "way" of fighting is that there cannot be a "way" of fighting. Every fight is so different it all depends on the variables. Is there 2 or 3 people in the fight? Are weapons allowed? Can I run away? and so on...
You might be asking yourself what the heck does this have to do with sales? Well, if you compare the way sales trainers try to get you to sell their "way", talk their "way" send out notes their "way" you can quickly see the similarities. If you adopt "having no way, as way, is way" as your selling technique then you will develop a style that is appropriate for any situation and the confidence of knowing you have a way...which is "no way".
Just like Bruce didn't stop learning and teaching "ways" of fighting you should not stop learning and teaching new sales skills either. Just remember that just because you learned how to punch threw a 2-inch piece of wood with your fist while someone is holding it doesn't mean that you know how to punch someone in the face while they are moving. But, if you are ever trapped in a box made of wood you are prepared.
I call this "having no way, as way" style of selling "question based selling". On so many different levels this "way" (actually, no way) of selling has been the difference between success and failure for me. Going into appointments with a strategy or a plan rarely turn out the way you intended, much like a fight. The key is gathering as much information as you can, asking as many questions as possible and then giving answers or suggestions based on that information. When you try to steer a conversation or have a plan going into an appointment you are usually very transparent and come across contrived. If you just listen and ask questions the appropriate response will be apparent it you did it right.
Next time you have the opportunity to be in a sales appointment remember to ask a ton of questions and have no agenda, but be prepared. Or like Bruce would say "have no way".
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More on Bruce Lee - Jeet Kune Do (Chinese: 截拳道 Cantonese: Jitkyùndou lit. "Way of the Intercepting Fist," also "Jeet Kun Do","JKD," or "Jeet Kune Do") is a hybrid fighting system and life philosophy founded by Bruce Lee in 1967 with direct, non classical, and straight forward movements. Jeet Kune Do is primarily an open hand system. The system works on the use of different 'tools' for different situations. These situations are broken down into ranges (Kicking, Punching, Trapping, & Grappling), with techniques flowing smoothly between them. Also, it is referred to as a "style without style". Unlike more traditional martial arts, Jeet Kune Do is not fixed or patterned, and is a philosophy with guiding thoughts.