Crunch Time

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By Harvey Mackay

When I was a kid, one of my favorite ballplayers was Eddie Stanky. He had a lifetime batting average of .268. Hardly the stuff of legends. The dish on Stanky was, “He can’t hit. He can’t run. He can’t field. He can’t throw. He just knows how to beat you.”

They called Reggie Jackson “Mr. October.” He called himself, “The straw that stirs the drink.” Both descriptions were accurate. Jackson came alive when the World Series was on the line.

Great players thrive under pressure. There’s a moment in almost every game when it could go either way. It’s called “crunch time.” How you react when that moment comes is what really matters.

There’s a “crunch time” in sales, too.

Any salesperson can go through the routine part of a sales call without much trouble. Opening banter. Formal pitch. Questions and answers.

I was talking with a top-notch sales pro the other day, and he told me, “It doesn’t take Zig Zigler to write up an order that falls into your lap. Ninety-nine percent of the time I do everything pretty much the same as everyone else and I get pretty much the same results. What I do in the other five minutes is what determines where my kids go to college.”

Every sales job is different. Whatever your line, it still comes down to the same thing: the moment of truth, the part the whole sale hinges on. How you handle it separates the superstar from the bench jockey.

You can carry out a textbook sales call, but if you make your pitch yet blow the close, you don’t make the sale.

Sometimes the most important part is in the approach. You may have only a few seconds to convince your prospect that he or she would find it worthwhile to listen to you.

Many of you are dealing in price situations and your company is never the low cost supplier. Don’t kick yourself when you come home because you think you can’t sell your high-priced product. Think of what a miserable job it is to work for the company that’s always the lowest cost producer. Haggling over pennies. Cutting corners on quality. Disappointing performance. Unhappy customers.

Some of the highest paid sales pros work for the highest price vendors. They’re able to convince their prospects that it’s to their advantage to pay the extra money.

“Mr./Ms. Customer, let me tell you about the team that backs up this product. We put our resources into making it and training the people behind it. That makes us a little different from the others. We pay more to get more. More quality. More research. Better reliability. Better performance. Better service. Better resale. Better people. We don’t just sell it and walk away. We’ll be there for you. Always. It will cost a little more now, but it’s going to cost a lot less in the long run.”

It’s called the value-added approach.

There are salespeople who use it so successfully they make it the centerpiece of their presentation.

They wait for the prospect to make the inevitable price objection and then use their response as the launching pad for their close.

They take pride in selling products that cost more than the competition. They’re convinced they’re providing their customers with the best value for the money. Instead of being defensive, they go on the offensive.

Did I say every sales job is different? Well, so is every sales situation. It’s not always easy knowing when “crunch time” will arrive. Is it when objections are raised? Is it getting to talk to the right people? Is it the resale after a customer’s so-so experience the first time around?

Many salespeople spend their entire careers learning a paint-by-the-numbers approach without really understanding the selling process. There comes a time when you have to reach beyond the obvious if you’re going to connect with the prospect.

In sports, it’s called hitting the sweet spot. It takes a lot of practice to do it consistently. But if you can do it, you’ll never be satisfied with anything else.

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