FOSS Sales Part III: Beyond Confidence Art

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If you are a technical person you probably hate sales. Even the idea of it reeks of cheap suits and 'confidence art.'

Before moving on too far into it, let's move the elephant out of room and ask, 'Do you believe in your product? Does it excite you?'


You have to believe that your product solves problems. In the case of laboratory information management systems (LIMS) you probably have so many stories about how the product is a life-saver that you could easily talk someone's ear off. So you likely don't have an issue here. However, you might not have noticed that what you are doing with the product no longer excites you. If the product doesn't excite you two things are going to happen:

The latter part is somewhat hard for people to understand. Rejection can be crushing psychologically if you feel that you have lots invested. Sometimes while trying to get a sale we tend to get overly excited and switch roles from salesperson to what I like to call a 'showcaser.' Here's how to avoid that.

Depth of Field

The job of the salesperson really is not to hand deliver things to the forefront of the process. Your prospect must *do things* in order to obtain more information. On a website they have to make some clicks. In order to get a whitepaper they have to provide some contact information. Everything isn't up front and easy to grab. It is categorized, sorted, and the stuff on sale is only in easy reach when you visit that area or sometimes ask a question. This model can be employed with anything from a website or even a conversation with a prospect.

Imagine you've visited a furniture store. Is it the goal of the salesperson to let you sit in a chair right by the front door while he or she *brings you* furniture pieces? Absolutely not. The store has depth; their goal is to guide you into an environment and immerse you in the best qualities of their offerings. You can sit in mock dining rooms; stare at modern lighting; and bounce fancy plates in your hands. But you cannot do any of that stuff by the door.

There are two halves of the human brain -- one part is intellectual and the other deals with the imagination. When you are not inviting people far enough into your environment in order to get the answers they crave you are only appealing to the intellectual and discerning part. This will increase your chances of rejection and will often make that rejection much more harsh. Your approach must appeal to *both* parts of the brain, and the imaginative part likes depth.

Which Department?

Following the furniture store model, let's say your imaginary store is small enough to fit in your pocket. You can pull it out, say some magic words, and it will instantly expand into one with depth and complexity. When speaking to a prospect, where exactly do you take them in the store? Also, since the store isn't really there -- it is a merely a projection -- what constitutes 'going'? The parts of your store are categories of assistance that your solution can provide. So you show people in need of bedding your offerings for beds: covers, pillows, etc. What constitutes 'going' are questions and answers. Yes, you have to learn to completely master the uncomfortable silence and interrupt it with pointed questions that get to the real heart of what the prospect wants. Here's an example:

Salesperson: 'Hello...why have you visited my store today?'

Prospect: 'Oh, I'm just browsing...'

Salesperson [Wrong response]: 'Ok...I'll just be over here if you need me...' (This is wrong because this salesperson is missing the opportunity to help engage both sides of the prospect's brain. A person browsing has the discerning part of their brain getting the majority of their mental juice.)

Salesperson [Better]: '(Offers hand). My name is Tom and I've been working here for years. We have so much stuff we are practically starting to give it away. Hey, you know that we have bedding on sale and some of it is like 60% off? Come on over here and take a look at the quality...' (This is correct because the salesperson, by inviting the prospect to a different part of the store and involving them in the immersive store experience, knows that he can balance out the discerning brain with the imaginative brain. Once the imagination kicks in with questions like 'what will it look like...' and 'Can I use some new bedding?' they will multiply like rabbits because the discerning brain with SWITCH from its original stance to trying to answer all of the crazy questions coming from the imaginative side.)


When my son was very young I would put out my open palm and ask him a single question, "where's the money?" At first he had no answer. He didn't know what money was and so he looked at me a bit befuddled. I would retract my hand a bit saddened and walk away. One day my outstretched hand was met with a wry smile, a reach into the pocket, and an average size ball of lint. I protested and said, 'hey...there's no money here' but he insisted that there was. His belief and insistence was so strong that I, as the adult, gave up and accepted his invisible currency.

In your quest to improve sales you must learn how to do this. Forget reliance on slides, presentations, or tools of any kind. If you cannot pull out the magic of your proposition from some mysterious, immersive place and deposit it into the hand of a prospect for the mere price of asking the right question then your sales initiatives are doomed.

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Citation: FOSS Sales Part III: Beyond Confidence Art. (2015). Retrieved Thu Apr 19 15:04:10 2018, from;iid=readMore;go=1427472776