The following is a true story that very few people have heard.  However, I feel like now is the right time as I am finally getting over my embarrassment and know that there is a huge lesson to share. 

Many years ago, my dream client was sitting right in front of me…but I made a huge mistake and lost the sale!  Keep in mind I had a couple decades of sales and business experience that, in most people’s minds, would have created a “no-brainer” close.  But, not this time.

This particular prospect was primed and committed to taking action.  The income I would make was approximately $100,000.  That’s right…$100K from ONE client!   Everything was set.  I KNEW I had it in the bag and it was a done deal! 

How did I know this?  It was because ALL the key components were there.  The client was a hot referral from a good friend (the best kind of referral) and he was ready to buy!  Plus, I spent A LOT of time sharing my knowledge, answering his long list of questions, and helping him far more than (I believe) anyone else would have done.  I provided GREAT VALUE!  There was no doubt in my mind that he was mine!   Well, he was mine until I made two huge mistakes.

The first mistake I made is that I shared too much knowledge at our first meeting.  I know that might sound silly to some of you, and others may perceive it as me thinking “too highly” of myself.  But, I am telling you the truth as I spent 3 hours sharing details of process and procedure for his situation.  It was like a Q&A session and he had done his research already.  What he wanted was answers to very specific questions…and I gave him those answers.  He was “interviewing” me to make certain he wanted to hire me.  So, of course, I wanted to do well! 

My second mistake was that I did not impress upon him the “additional value” I would bring to the table, nor did I even ask for the sale.  Okay, we all know that asking for the sale is critical in actually getting the sale.  As a sales trainer and business advisor, how could I have possibly messed that up?  Well, I did mess it up.  Now, you understand why I don’t share this story…and why I was embarrassed.  

Part of me was so focused, and afraid, of messing up and not getting the sale that I let him take over the meeting with his Q&A session.  I should have stopped that right away.  But, I didn’t.  Keep in mind, I wanted to impress him and if I could ONLY show him how much I know he would feel confident and affirm his decision to hire me.  Boy was I wrong! 

In the meantime, another part of me was just so confident he was “my” client because of who referred him to me and all the other (confidential) details.  There was no need to play the “sales game” and follow my usual formula. I truly thought the meeting was simply a “formality” to confirm a decision he had already made (to hire me).  Wrong again!! 

The result was this “prospective” client hired someone else.  Embarrassed, confused, and driving myself crazy trying to figure out where I messed up…I sucked it up and called him.  I asked him what I said or did that was wrong or didn’t work for him.  He told me, “Everything you said to me was correct, except for one thing…” 

Well, that one thing he referred to was something I was absolutely correct about because it was not an “opinion” I gave him on the topic, it was a “factual” answer.   Of course, I went on to share even more knowledge and proved to him that it wasn’t merely “opinion”.  Then he finally said, “You definitely have the knowledge and know what you’re talking about.  I just feel more confident with (the other company) and only one of their answers was different.”.  BOOM!  There it was!!   It was about how they made him FEEL!  They “sold” him.  I didn’t.  I’m sure the other company was perfectly good and experienced, but he was “mine” and I let him slip away because I was so focused on sharing my knowledge I forgot two very important parts of the sales process.

Two income-changing lessons for all:

  • People buy because of how they feel. Knowledge is important, but it is definitely NOT the driving force when it comes to a “buying decision”.  This is a fact I’ve known for decades, and ALL prospective clients are not clients until you have the money in the bank.  They must “feel” good.
  • ALWAYS follow your process (modify based on the prospect’s responses, of course) and when it comes time to ask for the sale…do it! The “process” still has to be respected and applied no matter how confident you are that the prospect is ready to buy.

If you want to learn more the sales process I have taught thousands of people over the years, reach out to me.  I’m happy to share.  By the way…it works when you apply it!  🙂

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