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Don’t Let Your Seagull Become an Albatross


By Hamish Knox

Have you ever killed a sale by bringing up an irrelevant feature to your prospect? Something you, or probably your marketing department, thought you prospect should know about before they signed up?

At Sandler, this is known as “painting seagulls in your prospect’s picture.” Unfortunately, your seagull can quickly turn into an albatross.

Traditionally trained salespeople who sit through hours of product training before being let out in front of prospects can’t wait to share all their product knowledge when they get in front of anyone, qualified prospect or not.

The problem a traditionally trained salesperson runs into happens when they overshare features and benefits that they’ve been told are super important, but their prospect thinks is irrelevant.

For example, recently my wife and I needed a new washing machine and clothes dryer. After researching online and choosing a model we liked, we drove to the Brick, home appliance store in Calgary to make our purchase.

After our salesperson gave us the nickel tour of all of the washing machines and clothes dryers in his department, without asking anything more than “what are you looking for,” we told him which machines we wanted and put the ball back to him.

Instead of 1) stripping a little line to find out why we wanted that particular washer/dryer set or 2) writing up our order, he said, “great choice. Did you know that those machines use special silver bars to kill bacteria in your clothes? Let me show you how it works!”

Hustling us over to the machines we were now unsure we wanted, who wants to regularly replace silver bars in their washing machine, he took us through a demonstration of how the silver bar worked, the anti-bacterial properties of silver, and the “simple” replacement procedure.

Result? We bought another washer/dryer set, priced lower than the one we originally selected and the salesperson lost out on a good bit of commission.

It’s tempting to paint seagulls in your prospect’s picture. After all, why would they buy your product or service if they didn’t know about the really amazing features you plan to dump on them?

Remember that your prospect buys from you because your product or service solves their pain, not because of the cool features Marketing wants you to promote.

Next time you go to a prospect’s office, leave your paint brushes and bring your pain killers.

Hamish is a Sandler Trainer in Calgary, Alberta

Illustration by Rob Green


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