Two weekends ago, I got to take my youngest daughter to a 4 year-old's birthday party. I'd forgotten how elaborate some of these parties get, and this was a nice reminder. The parents of this little boy had hired an animal trainer to bring some critters and let the kids see them.
The highlight of the show was a weasel that did tricks. I had never seen a trained weasel and so I asked the trainer how he did it. The story he shared was interesting: "I learned a long time ago that the key to weasel training is simply teaching them what they are not allowed to do first, then helping them figure out what they are supposed to do instead."
I asked the trainer about his process. Each weasel trick had two elements, a prop and a sound. To get the weasel to do a trick, the animal simply has to react to the prop when it hears the sound.
Too often in sales, our clients show up on our doorstep complaining about their prospects who've been weasels. They come in saying: they didn't do what we expected, they misled us, they ignored us, they lied to us. In other words, their clients have not reacted to a sales call in the way the salesperson wanted. Typically salespeople spend their time blaming the weasel, when they should take some time and look at the trainer instead.
In the sales world, prospects are tough to engage. They have plenty of distractions and, honestly, most sales pitches bore prospects.
Your prospects have been trained to ignore most of the sounds you make and they are indifferent to the props. But for your sales team to succeed, prospects have to be a part of the show.
We spend our time helping our clients understand what buyers are looking for, what sounds they react to, and what props have value. We teach our clients a simple rule: You can't get mad at a prospect for doing something you didn't tell them they couldn't do. And we help our clients understand how to better train their prospects to respond right way.