Sales Lesson from my Curb Painter

Tonight, while on the phone with a client, I had an interesting lesson. The client I was talking to is doing some amazing stuff, but this particular lesson came from my curb painter.

You know the ones (if you live in suburbia)- they come a knockin’ asking to paint the house number on your curb.

Well, I saw this guy walking up to my door with his painting bucket, so I walked out to greet him. Since I was chatting on the phone, I was prepared to shoo him away like I usually do. “Sorry, on the phone” would have been an acceptable and really easy excuse. For some reason, instead of shooing him away, I gave him a few seconds of attention and ended up saying yes.

I had a realization afterwards…

Just to paint my curb, he still had to jump through all of the traditional sales hurdles to get my YES.

Here’s why he got it, and what he did right that essentially made the “sale”.

1. He made a good first impression. Overcame my skepticism.

Result- kept me listening.

I’m always wary when someone comes to my door selling something. It’s never anything I want or need, and I get annoyed with the interruption. So, right off the bat the person has to dig him or herself out of that hole.

However, this guy made a nice first impression. He wasn’t scary looking. Looked like a “normal” guy. He was polite. He saw I was on the phone and apologized for interrupting and was about to walk away. This kept me listening.

In person, first impressions are critical. If I get a weird “vibe” from someone when I first meet them, they don’t get my business- probably ever. Remember just as importantly – on your website- you have about 3 seconds to make a decent enough impression to keep your visitors from clicking away from your site. What first impression are you making in person or with your online presence?

2. He was not “sales-y”.

Result- kept me open to saying yes.

Whether it’s someone knocking on my door to paint a curb, someone selling a shirt at a Lucky Store (that’s another story!) or selling high-end coaching services- pushy, “sales-y”  salespeople are a turn off to me. Nothing can make me run away faster than a hard sell.

This guy simply told me his story. Nothing fancy or pushy. As I said, he was prepared to walk away when he saw I was on the phone. This was a nice contrast to other people I’ve had come to my door that will not only bang on it, and could care less if I’m in the middle of dinner, work, or if the house is on fire.

Another nice touch was that he didn’t have a set price- just whatever I thought was fair. This overcame the obstacle of “I can’t afford it”.

3. He had a compelling story.

Result- trust & empathy.

We know that stories are what sell now.  Stories are emotional, and emotions are what drive our buying decisions. Not facts and figures, which is why the internet marketing gurus advise to highlight the “benefits” of a product rather than the “features”.

My curb painter’s story: “He lost his job and is only working part-time. He’s trying to create ways to make money so he doesn’t lose his house.”

This story was compelling to me personally. Sure, he could have been pulling my chain as someone suggested to me, but I don’t think so. I’ve been through plenty of tough times so could relate, and if his story was authentic, what a creative and courageous solution for him to walk around neighborhoods asking to paint people’s curbs.

4. Provided a benefit & answered WIIFM?

Result- “yes”.

Our bottom line is always, “What’s in it for me?” and a good sales person always has to find a way to communicate that benefit.

Re painting the address on my curb, I was thinking to myself that it might look a little nicer with a fresh coat of paint. But, here is what he told me: “It will be easier for the fire department or ambulance to find your house in case of emergency.”

Wow, ok- that’s a pretty good benefit, with a bit of fear thrown into the mix. And, it worked.

Bottom line:

When you are making your next pitch, having a call with a potential client, or wording your sales page, remember that you also will need to jump through these same sales hurdles. This curb painter example is simple, but when you get right down to it- it is simple. Make a good impression, don’t be pushy, tell your story, know what objection to overcome and communicate how your product or service will help your client.

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