The TACTIC: Listen to me, please!

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It’s not often that I purchase a replacement chain saw. In fact, the last time I bought one was 15 years ago. Back then, when I had a back that worked properly, I fancied myself the lean, mean lumberjack. In keeping with my “he-man” self-image, I purchased the biggest and loudest chain saw available. If there were anyone still sleeping within 10 miles of my yanking it into life, the sleepers had to be on sleeping pills. However, that saw really was what I needed, at the time, to do the job.

Over the past 15 years, I did get my investment back. It was worth the $400. But this past September, I needed a replacement. Like I told the fellow at the shop where I had originally purchased the monster, my needs had changed. Instead of cutting firewood, I call 1-800-WOODMAN, and it shows up in my driveway. Instead of big-time landscaping, if I plant two hundred tulips, it’s a major deal. I just needed a saw for the occasional piece of wood that was too long.

What did he show me? The $500 Swedish saw that, and I quote, “You could use this all day and not get tired; it has a superior anti-vibration mounting system.” I guess he didn’t hear me when I said I might need a saw for maybe 10 hours of use a year.

Upon seeing the blank look on my face, he then led me over to the TV screen with the demo playing. “Just watch,” he said, “you’ll be amazed.”

I did. I saw a man start two saws and then pour a bucket of sawdust on the motors of each. The Swedish saw kept right on running. I was amazed. But I can’t for the life of me remember when I ever poured a bucket of sawdust over my running chain saw.

Unfortunately, I had to pass by the counter to escape. “What’d you think? Pretty neat, huh? Tell you what, I’ll give you $25 for your old one.”

“Appreciate that,” I responded, “I’ll be back next weekend after payday. I didn’t think I’d need to spend $500.”

“That’s the price of excellence,” he responded. “See you then, and when I do, I’ll toss in an extra chain.”


Within the hour, I was at the local, super huge, discount hardware store where I bought the “weekend warrior” saw for $150. Now that I think about it, I think the saw guy sold the same model.


The biggest problem with the salesperson’s approach was that he did not listen at all to what was being said by the prospect. The only thing he “heard” was that a replacement was going to be bought. After he heard that, everything else was ignored.

Yes, the original product was purchased there, and back then, the original product was exactly what was needed to get the job done. The prospect was obviously comfortable coming back to the same vendor 15 years later. Here is a perfect example of having someone who wants to be a customer for life.

So the salesperson assumed that since the higher priced product had been purchased in the past, it would be purchased again. All that was needed was a little hand holding. The proverbial push-over sale.

What the salesperson did, by ignoring the prospect’s statement of current needs, was convince the prospect that this vendor could no longer be trusted. Then, by showing him a “demo” that actually demonstrated, in the prospect’s mind, the lack of interest on the part of the vendor, all the prospect wanted to do was escape, which he did.


Train yourself to listen to exactly what the prospect is saying. If you aren’t sure of what is being said, ask the prospect to clarify. When you ask these types of questions, it keeps you from getting carried away by your assumptions and subtly tells the prospect unconsciously that you really are listening.

A customer for life is one who buys from you until he dies. However, every sale to that customer has to be earned by showing the same level of listening as during the last sale.

Anytime you think you are the only one who will sell (fill-in the name), go online to search the nearest large city and count the number of other companies who sell the same product as you. “Fill-in the name” is being prospected by them right now.


Hear what the prospect needs now, not what you want to hear.

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