A few years ago, my family and I used to spend about 55 evenings a year at Louisville Slugger Field. I sold the block and brick used to build it. Maybe my favorite sale of all time.
Some of my customers and a few suppliers used to call me while I was there and they’d hear the ballgame in the background. It would have been after 6 PM when they’d call and they were surprised not to get my voicemail.
They’d always ask, ” Do you guys go to every game ? “ And I’d have to say yes. I’d tell ‘em I love baseball and I learn something about selling and people every time we go.
I’d always wanted some concrete evidence to share and I finally found some.
An old-time salesman who happened to be a big baseball fan, like I am ( Go Cardinals ! ), told this story:
” Baseball made me a better salesman, so my time was well spent. “
I wanted to know the answer, so I let him finish the story.
For years his idol had been Carl Hubbell, an old-time Giants great. He knew every stat the man had created and followed his career in it’s entirety.
” I discovered the secret to his success and that’s what made the difference in my sales career. His secret was that he never pitched to the batters weakness, but to his strength. “
That went against everything I thought I knew, so I had to have him clarify that for me. Their strength and not their weakness ? That would be, um… different and I never heard that before.
” Most batters have a weakness and most pitchers try to exploit it. Then they concentrate on it. Then every other pitcher follows suit and tries the same thing.
Hub used his head and figured that if every pitcher was throwing to that weakness, after enough tries and practice, it could become the batters strength. He pitched batters different than very other pitcher they’d face.
I used that idea in selling. I studied my prospects and pitched to their strengths. In other words, I was completely different than every other salesman my customers faced. And it worked for me.
Another thing I learned from Hubbell was self-confidence. He had it and plenty of it, because he was good at what he did.
Every time he was faced with a difficult situation and came thru, his self-confidence grew. “
After I heard that, I actually tried it and it worked fairly well for me. I’ve sold people who I was told I’d never sell, purely because I was coming from a far different angle than they expected.
Play to your customers strengths, don’t pick at their weaknesses and they’ll see you as more of an equal and less of an adversary.
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