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Has Your Sales Team Watched 'Pawn Stars'?

Recently, during several coaching calls, I heard a common theme among comments -- either the prospective client was asking for some kind of discount or the salespeople were asking for some sort of promotional discount so "I can close the deal."

These comments always pop up during the last month of each quarter. Generally, this occurs because:

  1. You have conditioned your customers or prospects to expect these kinds of end-of-quarter promotions.

  2. Your vendors want to achieve their numbers (public companies) and they have conditioned your salespeople to expect their deals or coupons.

  3. Your sales team has not been trained to effectively sell the value of your firm or the value of the impact of your products/services on your prospects' businesses. Hint: This needs to be done early and continually through the sales process.

If you hear the word "deal" spoken by one of your salespeople, then you have failed -- either by hiring that kind of salesperson or your training program has failed to set the standards. Doing deals is simply a bad mindset for professional salespeople and leads to discounts, coupons and lower margins. We work "opportunities," not deals.

What can you do to reset this mindset? You need to build the mental toughness of your sales team. I recommended that each salesperson watch two episodes of "Pawn Stars," a popular show on the History Channel. They then need to discuss at the next sales meeting what they observed. If you have not watched it, the show covers the daily issues in a pawn store in Las Vegas. People bring in items to sell to the store and the store buys them to hopefully resell for a profit. There are four characters the reality show follows.

What I want the salespeople to see is the owner, Rick, review the items people are bringing in, determine their real value to him, set a price in his mind that he will pay, and then begin to negotiate with the person selling the item to the store.

In some cases he brings in an "expert" to help set that value. Rick then asks the seller how much they want for the item. He proposes a price and banters with the seller until they settle on a price. In almost every case, the seller caves in because Rick knows how to negotiate better, knows his business, and holds firm on his price. In some situations, the seller walks away for another opportunity, feeling they did not get their price.

In our world, the salesperson must be the "expert" and understand the value they are bringing to the buyer (Rick). They should be mentally tough enough to handle the negotiation discussions and reinforce the value they bring. 

With too few opportunities in a closing mode, salespeople become weak-minded. Your hiring must focus on testing that attitude -- your activity management must be focused, your sales training must include skill-building and your sales management coaching must help build this facet of their professionalism.

There is always something to learn from any life experience -- even from the "Pawn Stars."

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 17, 2013