Q: “Who is your favorite ‘famous’ salesperson?”
A: Not who you might expect. A dear friend of mine heads up a sales team for the most successful radio station in the country. Several years ago, I remember him telling me about a sales meeting where he sang the praises of a sales rep named “Sam.” You probably know Sam. He is responsible for the most famous cold call close in history…
Salesperson: “I am Sam…Sam I am…”
Sam is one confident salesperson. He starts off by introducing himself to his prospect. He does it once. He does it twice. He’s smiling. He’s proud. He’s self-assured.
Prospect: “That Sam–I-Am…That Sam-I-Am! I do not like that Sam-I-Am.
For some reason Sam’s prospect doesn’t like him. Or he’s pressed for time, and not in the mood. Sound familiar?
Salesperson: “Do you like green eggs and ham?”
Good for Sam. He starts off by asking a question. He doesn’t just dive in by telling his prospect about green eggs and ham. He asks a closed probe. And so starts the dance…
Prospect: “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. I do not like green eggs and ham.”
Objection No. 1. Now, Sam has two choices: He can accept the objection at face value and move on. Or, he can continue asking questions, probing for reasons.
Salesperson: “Would you like them here or there?”
Bypassing the first objection, Sam asks another question. Actually, he uses a “trial close.” He merely asks where he’d like his products delivered.
Prospect: “I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham.”
Well, this prospect seems to have his mind made up. Sam ought to throw in the towel. His prospect is certainly not giving off any buying signals. But Sam is supremely confident in his products, and he knows from experience that if he can just keep his prospect engaged, he just might get down to the bottom of his objections.
Sam proceeds to ask several more questions about eating green eggs and ham: “With a mouse, in a box, with a fox, in a car...Eat them! Eat them! Here they are.”
He even tries to get his prospect to allow himself to taste the benefits of his products: No dice. Sam implores a little more. He’s not giving up. He’s seen too many of his customers benefit from eating green eggs and ham. He knows that he’s just got to keep playing ball with this potential client.
Salesperson: “You may like them. You will see. You may like them in a tree?”
Prospect: “I would not, could not, in a tree. Not in a car! You let me be.”
Uh oh…this prospect has shown Sam the door. His smile still intact, Sam decides to give it another go.
He asks about eating green eggs and ham on a train, in the dark, in the rain. He goes on…
Salesperson: “You do not like green eggs and ham?’
He asks the prospect to restate his objection.
Flabbergasted, his prospect confirms this. At this point, Sam employs the “Colombo Close:” He walks to the door, and just before he leaves he turns and says:
Salesperson: “So you say. Try Them! And you may.”
Prospect: “Sam! If you will let me be, I will try them.”
Suddenly, Sam sees that his persistence has paid off.
Prospect: “Say! I like green eggs and ham. I do like them, Sam-I-Am! “
At this point this prospect-now-turned-customer excitedly tells Sam where and with whom he’ll eat the green eggs and ham. In fact, Sam’s customer says he’ll eat green eggs and ham “ANYWHERE!”
Sam excitedly pulls out a contract and his customer signs it enthusiastically.
When we earnestly believe in our product…
When we cheerfully never give up…
We might just hear this:
“I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-Am.
Dan Cole is vice president of sales and business development for the Consumer Electronics Association, which draws more than 3,000 exhibitors to its largest annual show, the International Consumer Electronics Show. Cole is a regular speaker on sales-related topics at industry events. In 2005, the International Business Awards named him Best Sales Executive. He can be reached email@example.com.