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Sales 101 – Taking the Pain for Gain

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One of my biggest challenges, when I am selling, is getting people to think proactively. It’s a real problem I can tell you. Most people, especially those who are small business owners or entrepreneurs are so busy guarding every cent, that they very seldom see the woods for the trees. Quite frankly, therein lies most of the problem – that and the fact that they usually treat their staff like members of their families.

These are the very people who should be buying my policies and procedures to be implemented to cut down the risk of fraud or theft. I am often saddened when I see their pain and total lack of understanding of what has just happened to them. You see, they don’t expect the worst and they are therefore often totally unprepared for what comes their way.

The result is of course, that I usually am only called in when there is problem. When theft has already occurred, I get called in to do the disciplinary, or do the audit on the stock to ascertain exactly how much stock or money has gone missing and then implement policies and procedures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Talk about closing the stable door once the horse has immigrated! My problem of course is that when the smelly brown stuff hits the fan, I am then expected to sort the whole problem out and I am supposed to do that immediately! Suddenly when the client feels the pain, they want something done about it, but until they feel that pain they have no concept of pain. It’s the same as realizing you have completely run out of toilet paper when you’re already seated on the pot!

Sometimes, it is really difficult for me to understand why people don’t want to listen or refuse to understand that failure to implement procedures and controls, will in all probability end up in pain especially when these people plan everything else so meticulously in their lives. The have worked out to 3 decimal points exactly how much it costs them to print a page but they don’t have, say a supplier procurement policy in place that could save them thousands of rand in VAT claims or staff members don’t have to sign an attendance register and they end up at the CCMA having to pay out thousands of rand to a disgruntled employee whose perception it is that they are hard done by.

Yep, sometimes people just have to feel the pain before they believe that the experience could be a painful one.

I really have to start thinking of myself as a ‘pain hunter’. I have to ensure that my prospects understand just how painful it can become if they do not have proper policies and procedures in place, then I have to convince them that I can take that pain way, irrespective of whether that pain is perceived or real – I am the one who will take the pain away. I have to make them really grateful that they have me there to take the pain away. I have to pay special attention to understanding all the different aspects of the client’s situation, to their fears, perceived or otherwise. I have to understand just what will take to make them react in a proactive way and thereby save them a whole lot of unnecessary pain (and then of course the additional expense that goes with that).

But you know what, perhaps I should just leave them to experience the pain that I know is going to come – I get more money that way! Perhaps I am just that little bit tired of explaining things to people who clearly don’t want to listen or take actions because “well, it won’t/can’t/shouldn’t happen” to them. Perhaps that is why I have two prices – a ‘proactive’ price for putting things into place when I suggest them and then of course my ‘reactive’ price when I have to run around like a mad person to fix up and sort out the mess when it happens.

Yep, perhaps I should just sit back and wait for the smelly brown stuff to hit the fan, splatter and splash all over the place, then arrive with my sunny smile and pleasant disposition and sort it all out for them and then sit back and watch my bank balance grow.

I think I know what I am going to do . . . . as a small business owner or entrepreneur, do you know what you are going to do?