Next time if you have to sell anything, spend time and getting one person who has the credibility to sell for you in the company or whatever the situation may be. Your focus should be on coaching that one person and make him a hero. You don't want to be the hero; you just want to succeed.
Find That One Person Who Can Make The Sale
In the book "The Flight of the Phoenix," which has been turned into Hollywood movie twice, a model airplane designer named Stringer has to sell his idea that could save the survivors of a plane crash in the Libyan desert.
In the book, a Skytruck plane runs into a dust storm after taking off and crashes somewhere in the Libyan desert. During the crash landing, two passengers die and 10 survive. If the survivors are not rescued within few days, they will die in the hot desert conditions, and also because of lack of food and water. What should they do? They have to make a decision on whether to stay put or leave the crashed site. Stringer comes up with an out of the box idea to build a plane from the wreckage and fly out of the desert to the nearest airport.
Loomis, a Texan, makes the following observation about both Stringer and Towns: "Stringer is our key man, naturally---we're all in his hands; but he does not look like the leader of anything, does he? And he doesn't have very much interest in. . . humanities. Towns is the one who can leads ---he 's the oldest among us and he's the captain of the aircraft. That's why we need him."
Moran pleads with Towns, "Frank ... We can't hang on here much longer. And it's no use going out there [dessert]....Stringer's got the only answer and we need you in with us." Towns, though hesitant in the beginning, finally agrees to fly the plane. They succeed in building a makeshift plane and Towns flies the plane, and they all rescue themselves.
Though the example above is from a book/movie, there is a very important sales lesson here. The real selling is often not done by the salesman at all, and it shouldn't be done by a salesman if he wants to succeed. It is a salesman's job to get someone that is trusted to sell it for him since the trusted person has the credibility with the people you have to win over. It is much easier for people to dismiss you since you are an unknown commodity and are not going to pay much attention to what you have to say.
This method was cleverly used in reverse in the movie "The Sting" to con a crime boss named Doyle Lonegan, played by Robert Shaw. The two con artists (Henry "Shaw" Gondorff, played by Paul Neuman, and Johnny "Kelly" Hooker played by Robert Redford) run a "wire," where they get the results of a horse race minutes before the results are announced. The delay creates an opportunity to run a scam to make a certain winning bet.
Even Crime Bosses Are Susceptible
Hooker proceeds to engender trust with Lonegan and tells him that he wants to take over the money making operation run by Gondorff, but he needs Lonegan's help. To show that Hooker had the juice, Hooker tells Lonegan that he can prove his mettle by helping Lonegan win a big bet. To test Hooker, Lonegan places a bet on a horse race that turns out to be right, though he didn't win since he was late in placing the bet. Impressed with Hooker's tip, Lonegan tells Hooker that he is going to come the next day to bet $500,000 on a horse race. The sting was on and Lonegan loses and gets taken away by a police lieutenant.
This example comes from an Oscar winning movie, but it shows that to make the sale, you need someone in the inside. Hooker is in the inside, thus, was able to win over the crime boss like Lonegan. Lonegan knows that he can't lose if he gets an inside tip.
This concept was discussed on the James Altucher Show (Ep.48 - Marni & Kristen: What Women Really Want). If a man wants to meet a woman, his best chance is not to go directly to the woman he is interested in. He will have a better chance by convincing one of her friends to introduce him to her friend that he is interested in meeting. A man is not going to be of much help to another man. The man may know 95% about this woman, but that 5% that will make a difference will only be known by a woman's close girlfriend. Even in relationships, you have to get someone in the know to help you make the sale.
Seth Godin agrees that often you can't make the sale not because you are not a good salesman, but you just don't have the credibility with the people you are trying to sell. In his book "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?" he writes, "Understand that there’s a difference between the right answer and the answer you can sell. Too often, heretical ideas in organizations are shot down. They’re not refused because they’re wrong; they’re refused because the person doing the selling doesn’t have the stature or track record to sell it. Your boss has a worldview, too. When you propose something that triggers his resistance, what do you expect will happen?"
What do you need to be persuasive?
In order to be persuasive, you need to make sure you are using the right messenger more than having the right message to make a sale, according to Steve Martin's blog in HBR titled, "How Doctors (or Anyone) Can Craft a More Persuasive Message." He writes that in order to be persuasive, you need expertise, trustworthiness and similarity.
If you have to persuade someone then get an expert to convey the information. People tend not to counter argue with what the exert is saying. For example, in sales, if you have to present a technical aspect, you want to first credentialize the technical resource who is going to present the technical aspect of a solution and nothing else.
To establish trust, if you start with a slight uncertainty and then state your message, it makes you more believable. Let's say you are a startup in sales and you are dealing with an objection about doing business with you, you can say, "We don't have a lot of customers, but all our customers have been very happy working with the value we have provided for them."
People believe people who are more like them. For example, in sales, prospects are interested in hearing from other customers who are using your products, solutions or services. Hearing from customers is more persuasive than hearing from vendors.
In real sales situation, salesman often tries to do too much and not realizing that sales are about outcome, not heroism.