How would you like to frustrate the hell out of all your competitors… and get so good at sales that people start believing you’ve made a pact with the Devil?
Okay, that’s too many satanic references in one sentence. (Though Frank Kern would dig it.)
But the analogy holds, once you learn this one simple salesman’s tactic I’m about to share with you. Other biz owners will swear at you, and fresh customers will swear in appreciation of your skill.
The tactic is called “Never Right”… and I was reminded of it while watching a college football game last weekend.
I don’t follow sports all that much anymore. Don’t have the time, and I stopped caring about how things turn out for anyone way back in the early 90s (last century) when the SF Giants notched 101 wins and still were locked out of post-season play with a vicious stomping by the hated LA Dodgers in the final regular game.
That just wasn’t right. That broke my little sports-loving heart for the last time, and I haven’t cared a whit about another team since.
Screw ’em. I’ll catch the occasional sporting contest here and there, but mostly I’ll watch only if it’s an exciting game (which most are not). I have no stake in who wins.
Last weekend, I had a strange premonition about a certain game, so I made popcorn, grabbed a Lagunitas IPA, and for the first time, I settled in to watch Hawaii’s college football phenomenom play on ESPN.
Excellent game. Everything you’d find in a Hollywood script, with a last minute win by the Warriors. I’ll spare you the details — I’m no Red Smith (early sportswriing pioneer) — but I was struck by something the Hawaiian offense did.
Sat up, spilled my beer and popcorn and scared the dog.
This was very interesting.
It’s also extremely unique in football of any stripe — college or pro.
You DO still see it in the touch games played in the front yard during family get-togethers. But not in “real” contests.
What is it?
It’s the “Never Right” philosophy of running routes.
For nearly all other college teams, receivers are locked into pre-ordained routes with each play. They will be yelled at and slapped around if they deviate. Coaches are very controlling assholes, and they want predictable plays run. They loathe freedom. Don’t go out there dancing around like a Broadway chorus line.
It’s all about the fixed nature of Xs and Os in the playbook.
Not for Hawaii, however.
See, the quarterback (who’s up for the Heisman) and his receivers have been playing so long together, that they “know” how to improvise on the field.
Like, on every passing play.
In fact, the quarterback doesn’t decide where he’s gonna throw the ball until a split second before he launches it. Literally, a blink.
This is because the receivers are adjusting their routes as they run. This is heresy for most football coaches. It’s chaos. It’s disorder.
It ain’t right.
Yet, Hawaii has ridden this free-for-all style of play to a perfect record and a Top 10 ranking.
The receivers describe it as “The defense is never right. If they play zone, we change the route. If they play us man-to-man, we change again. If they switch mid-play, it still doesn’t matter — we adjust to everything they do. As they do it.”
In short… the defense is never right. No matter what they do.
Now, it does take some special players to make this kind of unpredictable football successful. The Hawaiians seem to have super-sensitive psychic connections with each other, and can read tiny changes in body language. They use secret signals that only they understand.
They are frightenly good athletes.
And that philosophy of “never right” made me sit up and take notice.
You see… that’s what world-class salesmen do. They are unafraid of any objection or “no” response by a prospect… essentially, the “defense” of the prospect… because they always have a comeback, an answer, or another tact to take.
You may end up not buying from them… but you’ll be exhausted from the effort to resist.
And you will often walk away wondering why the hell you DIDN’T buy. Because every reason you had for demurring was demolished and countered, and the new reality you were left with was… you didn’t buy, because you don’t know why anymore.
You thought you had a good reason or two not to buy. But those reasons evaporated under the logical and emotionally-satisfying redirection of the salesman.
Just as likely… you walk away as a customer.
You bought, after all.
Now, there are bad-evil salesmen out there who will lie and cheat to overcome your objections. I sincerely hope these bastards rot in hell for eternity.
Lying isn’t selling.
It’s lying. It’s wrong, and it generates a wrathful Karma.
Just get the Hollywood idea of a sleazy salesman out of your head. It’s bogus.
Real sales masters don’t need anything more than a toolbox filled with a good product, a good offer, and some decent Sales Detective Research on how the benefits are perceived by prospects.
Then, he constructs simple lists. Lists of features, in plain English. The benefits — emotional, functional, financial, logical, reasonable, and greed-tickling — to each of those features (often in multiples, because there’s never just one benefit if you look hard enough). Lists of the uniqueness of the company, the product, the deal. Lists of hooks, and stories, and testimonials from other people and endorsements from well-known sources.
The rookie skips all of this, and just tries to bludgeon the prospect with a small set of reasons why he SHOULD buy. Damn it. What’s wrong with you, you don’t want this? It’s PERFECT for you! BUY! BUY!
Think of Cartman trying to get his way.
The veteran knows he needs a deep bag of tricks, however, and is never bummed when his first effort ends in a punt. Selling (either face-to-face or in an ad) is a process. It’s not an isolated act.
People used to ask why I put so many bullets in my copy. (I’ve had direct mail pieces go out with 9 of the 12 pages being nothing but bullet after bullet.)
The answer was easy: Once I researched what moved a reader to buy… I discovered that, OFTEN, they fell off the fence due to a single bullet.
One bullet, out of hundreds. Without it, no sale. With it, all else fades into the background, and desire swells to “must act now” levels.
And here’s the kicker: Even the best pro writers can’t predict WHICH bullet will trigger their desire. Each reader seems to bring a different need to the sales process… and since I don’t want to leave anyone out of the buying fun, I always use every benefit-laden bullet I can come up with.
And you should know: I slave over each bullet, making every word earn its place. I like to come in from different angles, in through different doors, approach from surprising premises.
In other words: The reader is never right in not wanting the deal.
As long as he is in the target market the deal is aimed at… he is never right.
I place the cost in context that is easily understood to be a bargain, when looked at in the right light. I challenge the world-view of the slacker, the procrastinator, the scared wannabe and the lost soul without hope. And I light fires under their ass, take away every option for putting things off, chuck ’em under the chin and reignite passion and desire and the motivation to act right friggin’ NOW.
Again… they might still walk away, unsold.
But they will never be smug about it. They will have doubts, because they are left with no real reason not to come aboard.
You’ll never sell everybody on anything. In this world, in most markets, you’ll have to work to get a fraction of your broader market to buy from you.
But knowing the “advanced fundamentals” of great salesmanship means you’ll never leave money on the table that you could have earned… if only you’d gone the full mile.
Again — no need, ever, to lie or cheat.
Just get hip to what your prospect needs to know before he can feel good about taking his wallet out. On every human level — emotionally, psychologically, logically, financially, and on.
It’s not always obvious. So do your homework.
Like those Hawaiian recievers. It may look like chaos out there on the field (especially if you’re trying to cover them)… but their “sudden” break into a spontaneous, unpredictable route is really the culmination of good research, long experience… and a kick ass philosophy that takes guts and skill to adhere to.
I love it.
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