- The Honey Badger newsletter
- THB Sales Magazine 47 - What Not to do When you get Caught with your Sales trousers (pants) Down…
THB Sales Magazine 47 - What Not to do When you get Caught with your Sales trousers (pants) Down…
And how to Pull'em back Up again Quickly. Hint: It's like S and M!
“Mein Gott! Muss das sein?!”
There’s a reason for this picture!
Good morning all! Hope you’re all up for making today a great one. In this weeks lesson we’re off to Neuschwanstein Castle! (Because of this I’m not saying much in here!) We have the usual suspects in my regular sections. And I feel duty bound to tell you that the clock is ticking. So get out there and make it happen! THB
News: people m/women in sales, remote news, entrepreneurs
Learn: How to dig yourself out of a hole.
Tools: Pen and Paper
Blow it all: Telescopes and Whisky
“The key is not to call the decision-maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you.” — Jeffrey Gitomer.
What not to do when you get caught with your sales trousers (pants) down
And how to pull’em back up again quickly! Hint: It's like S and M.
I get asked with alarming regularity when training, “What’s the one thing in sales that scares the crap out of you when making an important sales call?” My answer is always the same: “Being caught with my trousers down (telephonically speaking), forgive me. Dunno if such a term exists! Being called out means that I’m speaking bollocks (crap) and don’t know what I’m talking about, in other words.
It’s when the hunter suddenly becomes the hunted. That sickly feeling of “knowing” you’re about to drop the mother of all sales pitch bombs and not be able to stop your mouth in time. It’s the verbal equivalent of being wittiness to the shit that is about to hit the fan (in exceedingly large clumps'), being right, watching it unfold in slow motion with you as the main victim, and being powerless to do anything about it. For me, that’s my ideal hell of both being punched in the stomach and taking a well-placed kick to the “Tripes” simultaneously.
This can happen for a number of different reasons: bad preparation, arrogance, the wrong mindset, hungover, gabling, not listening, and not taking yourself (or your job) seriously. Or, just the plain old “buggered if I know” category: no sex with partner, no sex with anyone, no caffeine, no bacon and egg sarnie, or no money for the aforementioned...Yes. It could be anything. Or even just the wrong place at the wrong time with a prospect.
My worst-ever clanger that I ever dropped was when I lived in Germany. I had a job as a tour guide, taking the US military stationed there on European city breaks. This involved swotting up on each tour beforehand, planning routes with the bus driver, and flogging "add-on" tours. One such tour involved my first visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, just north of Austria. Some of you will remember that this is where "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was partly filmed.
On the day I turned up with my lot, there were other buses there from the same company that I worked for. It was (without my involvement) unanimously decided by the other guides that I would take all the groups in and show them around inside the castle. This, as they sniggeringly explained, was because it was my first time and I needed to learn the ropes. No drama; I reasoned and agreed to do so semi-enthusiastically. (Cue, queasy feelings of hot sick, and a railway smash fast approaching.)
It’s worth mentioning at this point that I do speak fluent German and was not worried about translating. So no concerns there. And besides, all I had to do, as with any other tour inside a historical building, was turn up, meet the local tour guide, and hand over my group of 200 or so excited Americans.
So off we all trotted to the entrance. Standing there was Helena, Magdalena? I forget. She was dressed up in a period Bavarian costume and smiling with tight lips. The first thing that struck me about Helena, even though the period costume was extremely old, was that it was an equivalent of a stylish 60’s mini skirt in comparison to her age. Helena radiated floral notes of decaying skin and Johnson and Johnson's talcum powder. (Now I'm getting a visceral feeling that something ghastly is about to happen.)
Helena beckons us all inside the entrance, turns around, looks at me, meets my eyes with a steely gaze, and starts to speak in a barely fathomable Austrian dialect. (White molten fear kisses my balls, and they tighten up in fright.) She then looks at my guests and waits for me to translate, which I do. Pleasantries over, we proceed inside. It’s at this point that everything finally hits me, all at once. Helena speaks no English and is expecting that I will be translating antiques, paintings, swords, and their histories into English. (Moment of impact. Brace)
The fear is now raw. My will to survive instinct kicks in, and I deliberately fall down a flight of stone steps, desperately hoping I can break my ankle for all to see in the process. I get to the bottom and start groaning. As I get up (or try to!) I intentionally collapse again and wince in agony. This is working! (Or so I think.) Some concerned Americans hurry over to help. One of which is, unfortunately, a doctor. Barstard. He says that it's just a slight bruise and that I'll be fine. I excuse myself, limp off into the bathroom, and start pacing the length of it. Nothing comes to mind. I accept my fate.
Helena would point at a desk, talk about it for 5 minutes, and wait for me to translate… “And here we have a very fine example of a freestanding davenport, made from mahogany and inlaid with rosewood veneers. The secret drawer is opened by pulling out this doorknob, and to close it, we have to turn these beautiful barley sugar-twisted legs. It was at this very desk that Ludwick II declared that 16-year-olds could drink beer…Do please take a photo, as you will never see one of these (or me) ever again.”
While this is going on, I nip into the next hall to see what horrors await. “Welcome to err.. The Room of Swords! This one, in particular, if touched, will bring you good luck for the rest of your life,” I say. Again, I hobble out to do a reckie in the next room, and I leave behind 200 Americans jumping on top of each other's shoulders to have pictured touching the lucky sword. This gives me a good 20 minutes, thank God. After what seems like an eternity, I finally finish the tour. That evening, after finishing work, I go out for a beer (to let off steam and bandage my mental scars) and meet some blue-blooded aristocratic chap running a bar. I teach the bar how Scots drink, but that’s for another time.
The trick when you get cornered, which is what I tried to do unsuccessfully (but learned from that experience), is to have a safe “word” that means STOP! Im done. No more. And do a reset before you get any deeper.
So if I find myself saying something and get called out for it, I have a safe word, usually “fuck!” that means I stop dead in my tracks and come out with my get out of jail card sentence, which has been written down and is kept by my desk. Something like, “You are absolutely right. Let me rephrase that in such a way that we both understand what I’m trying to express." Now pause for at least 10 seconds and think before you speak. It does not matter what you say; just don’t try rehashing the offending sentence (unless you know you are factually correct) in a different way. Start with something completely new—something that reframes and resets the conversation.
Sometimes I just say in a posh accent “The shotgun, please James. I going to shot myself in the head…twice. Let me rephrase that in such a way that we both understand”
The morale of the story is to be prepared for anything and have your “stop” word and sentence to hand that can be delivered without missing a heartbeat.
Now’s the time to start thinking about a new diary. This is just the ticket.
You’ll be needing a pen…
It’s also a good time to stargaze.
As indeed it is, to have a bottle of “something” kicking about in the pantry.
Ok. Let’s get on with it, see you all next Wednesday. If you’re just starting out in sales or need a refresh, do take the time to read my previous newsletters. I promise they will make you a better communicator. Get into the spirit of goodwill and share my newsletter link with someone who needs it. It’s free, costs you nothing, and will make you feel good. Peace. THB
"Doing nothing is very hard to do… you never know when you're finished." — Leslie Nielsen