How can you make the difference when things are getting tough?

I hope you enjoy this article and it inspires you to get back on track and make a difference when things get tough; while it takes place 2000 years ago, many of us can relate to this situation

Once upon a time in Ancient Egypt there was a salesman who had successfully been selling excellent soap products for many years. He was part of a great team that delivered sustainable results year after year.

One day his company launched a brand new soap with a delightful, long-lasting scent. Sales rocketed, they gained market share, and everyone was very happy; the product gave the company a boost on all levels. But then the competition launched a comparable soap and very rapidly conquered considerable market share with its highly assertive, nearly aggressive, approach that prompted the customers of the salesman to switch from his soap to the new one.

The salesman got frustrated and worried; however hard he worked, it was not enough to stop the competitor’s progress. He asked himself what he was doing wrong, why the results had declined, what else he could do, if his way of selling was suddenly wrong. He could not understand why the competition had taken so much away from him. During a meeting, he talked with his boss and his team who had all experienced the same problem. Many started to look for excuses to justify the declining results, blaming the lack of good marketing materials (meaning stone tablets at the time), low budgets, legal department guidelines, etc. They were all stuck in the Valley of Excuses.

Hoping for some solutions, the salesman went to see an old friend, a coach who helped him a few years earlier with another issue. They went for a long walk and the coach listened carefully to the frustrations, worries and issues of the salesman, and then asked him to perform an exercise: keep his mouth shut and pinch his nose so that he could not breathe. The salesman thought the coach had gone insane, but having known him for many years, he complied.

At the very moment he could no longer resist and had to take a deep breath, his coach said, “If your desire to find a solution to your problem is as great as the desire you just had for oxygen, I am sure that you and your team will find good, workable pathways to success.” Then the coach went further and gave the salesman some questions to reflect upon:

  • What makes people buy your soap?
  • What makes your soap different from other soaps?
  • What makes it so unique & attractive?
  • What makes your customer approach so special?
  • Why have people been buying your soap for years?
  • How many customer testimonials do you have?

Why did your boss start this soap company, what inspired him?

“Define the strengths of your own product & company and come back to me with a plan in two days.

But be aware, there should be no mention in it of your competitor's soap!”

Boosted by the realization his desire to find a solution was as great as his desire for oxygen, the salesman went back to his office and asked his colleagues to perform the same exercise. Quickly energy levels rose and a lot of great ideas were generated, the most striking of which was ‘Let’s again talk about our strengths, the USPs of our products, instead of being defensive. Let’s sell with the same fighting spirit and enthusiasm we had when we first launched the product. Let’s kick you know what…’

Good luck Sales Lions.

Alexander Nijs


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