This is Olive, our 4 year old Whippet. She’s a lightweight at only 22lbs, but don’t underestimate her: She’ll throw you down in the ring when it comes to sales.
But what is she selling? Me on the idea of giving her food. And she’s damn good at it. Although, looking at her, you’d think we never feed her. But watching her closely, I’ve realized she exhibits the best traits of what makes a salesperson successful. Here’s what you can learn from Olive to improve your game.
A Keen Sense for Opportunities
If there’s one thing that’s true about any dog I’ve encountered, is they have a sixth sense for opportunity. They have fine-tuned their senses to pick up on the slightest clues that food is nearby: The crack of a fridge door, the crinkle of a bag, the slightest whiff of food. Guaranteed, she’ll be there, seemingly out of nowhere, ready and waiting.
Obviously, you’re not begging for food as a salesperson. But tuning your senses to opportunities is a key skill for getting the sale. Whatever you sell, you must know when your market shows signs of needing your services. Instead of opening fridge doors or crinkling bags, they’ll be in the news, on social media, attend events, hire key positions and launching new initiatives. By watching, listening, and developing a sixth sense for opportunities, you can beat others to the punch (not to mention, possibly leap over a painstaking RFP process.)
Go to the Decision Maker
Dogs go straight to the source: The person holding the food. Only that person has the power to give it away, and they know that, so they focus their effort where it counts. Granted, it’s easier for a dog to identify who has food than it is for a salesman to identify who holds the purse strings. But the point is, if you’re not dealing with the person who’s holding the food, you’ll go hungry.
Doing the Work
It doesn’t matter what Olive is doing, crinkle a bag and she’s there. Every single time. Doesn’t matter if she’s napping, playing, tired, or in another room. When there’s an opportunity, she gets to work. And she doesn’t just drag her ass off the couch, she leaps out. Time is of the essence, because good opportunities rarely last long. If there’s anything you can take away from this, it’s that sales is hard work. It means inconveniencing yourself, and putting in the extra mile to win the sale.
Eyes on the Prize
I’ve noticed something awesome about my dog’s sales style. I could be eating something, and a few crumbs will drop to the floor. Most of the time, she doesn’t even blink. She stays focused on the prize in my hand. She could distract herself and scrape up the crumbs that fall from the plate while I eat the rest of my meal, but she knows there’s a much better prize waiting for her on the plate. In sales, you can often get distracted by or tempted to take the crumbs. Keep your eyes focus on the big prize, and don’t bite at the small stuff. You don’t want to be desperate or unfocused, or you’ll lose respect, and quite possibly, the sale.
They say that 9 out of 10 sales could have been won with just one more try. Olive could certainly teach you a thing or two about persistence. From the second she senses an opportunity, to the dire, bitter end when the last bite of food is gone (and all crumbs have been cleaned up), she’s there, doing her job. The point is, don’t give up. Pick up the phone one last time. You might be one call away from closing the deal.
Adapt to the Customer
Olive has an uncanny ability to read the people she begs from. She adapts her style and tries new things with different customers. I’ve noticed she’ll vary the levels of energy she displays when asking for food, experiment with touch (putting a paw on you), try different positioning, adjust her appearance (like her famous ears-swept-back cute look), use sound, and even perform tricks. The point is, she’s adapting and trying to find what you value the most. When she finds something that works, she tends to stick with it, until it doesn’t work anymore. Then she adapts again.
The lesson here is obvious, but this point goes beyond just reading your customers or doing cheesy things like matching their pose. This gets to the heart of sales: Discovering what’s important and most helpful to your customer. By asking the right questions and adapting your presentation, you will discover completely new ways that your solution is valuable to your customers. You may even surprise yourself.
Leave Nothing Unfinished
Olive crosses her T’s and dots her I’s. Once she’s claimed the prize, she sweeps the area for any remaining bits of food. The place is spotless after she leaves. As a salesperson, this means capturing every bit of opportunity available: Up-selling and cross-selling, maximizing value in every part of the deal you can. Leave nothing behind!
Account Management and Follow-up
Now here’s where she earns her sale. After a healthy dose of treats, she’ll spend the day snuggling up to me, following me around, and generally just being a sweetheart. You realize she’s managing the account, right? Reducing buyer’s remorse, building the relationship, spending time together doing things we like to do. Not to mention, by staying close, she’s got a first insight into further opportunities. Go back to Step 1.
Last But Not Least: No Fear
Just like great cold-callers, dogs simply do not have fear. Day in and day out, they fly in the face of rejection and don’t even skip a beat. If you can be even half as persistent and consistent as my dog, you’re guaranteed to find success in this field.