Imagine that you’re holding a delicate, golden thread. Your prospect holds the other end of the thread.
Naturally, you’re inclined to pull your end of the thread, as you want to close the deal.
In the same vein, your prospect pulls his end of the thread, as he has healthy skepticism and doesn’t want to be sold.
The problem is, this golden thread can snap at any moment if either of you pulls too hard.
And if the thread is held too loosely, it will slip from your fingers.
This dance takes place on every cold call, in every email, and in every sales meeting. Whenever there is even the potential for a transfer of goods or services for money, this delicate balancing act is at play.
When you understand and internalize the golden thread metaphor, you move one step closer to sales mastery.
Today we’re exploring this topic. We’re going to look at the intricate tapestry that it can make in your professional life. And we’re going to look at the tangled mess it can become if dealt with the wrong way.
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The Godfather and Sales
I think of the opening scene in The Godfather between the two mafia dons Vito Corleone and Don Barzini. Barzini asks Corleone to help his family with the “trade,” and Corleone gives a measured refusal, in a calm but resolute voice. The tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
The film was written this way to keep the viewer on “the edge of their seat.” We’ve all heard that saying. The Director doesn’t want the viewer to fall off their seat, nor does he want the viewer to sit back and relax. He understands the power of tension when it comes to selling a film.
You too are communicating a grand story and vision. So you have to embrace tension in order to keep the golden thread intact. Don’t shy away from it.
Now, I don’t mean negative tension or tension that stems from animosity. I mean a dramatic tension that draws the prospect into their own story of transformation. Just like there’s a golden thread between a film Director and his audience, so too must YOU keep the golden thread in sales.
Don’t worry, we’re going to get down to brass tacks now. I’m now going to demystify this in practical terms for you.
How to Maintain the Tension
You get into the office in the morning, situate your desk, and start calling down a lead list. A few calls in, you get an answer. You don’t go straight into a pitch. Doing so would snap the thread. You also don’t speak in a monotone, meandering voice. Doing this would loosen the thread and confuse the prospect.
Instead, you confidently capture their interest and attention (a-tension) with tonality. You mention something you know about them or their company (you did your homework, right?). Now you have them on the edge of their seat. With their curiosity piqued, you tell them why you’re calling and ask for a meeting.
Same goes for closing a deal. In fact, I’d argue that the golden thread is more important in the closing stage than any other stage of the sales process. There are verbal and non-verbal cues to look for, your own voice/tone to consider, even down to where the meeting is held (on common ground or on their turf?).
FYI: If you over-explain the offer, you loosen the thread. If you are overbearing or pushy, you snap the thread. If you ignore your prospect’s needs, you loosen the thread. If you talk about pricing too early, you snap the thread.
Remember… both loosening and snapping the thread kills the sale! So you can’t afford to do either. You must avoid these pitfalls.
The Secret Sauce
This delicate dance or balance can be learned. But some people have the presence of mind, or awareness, more so than others. Just like some dancers seem to have it in their blood. Movements come easier, and they make everything look so effortless. Same goes for certain actors, athletes, and others at the top of their game.
I’ve found that salespeople with high EQs (emotional intelligence) are most capable of maintaining healthy tension without snapping the golden thread. High EQ salespeople have a mastery of empathy, trust-building, and communicating value. These are the folks who seem to have it “in their blood.” But again, these are soft skills that can be learned.
The most important thing is to start noticing the golden thread in your hands. And when it snaps, you must start to identify and isolate the factor (or factors) that caused it to snap. That’s one thing I always preach — you have to constantly seek understanding and seek to improve. You never want to make the same mistake twice if you can help it (and you can help it!).
I’m calling it the “golden” thread for a reason. There’s a proverbial pot of gold at the other end of the thread. In other words, the payoff comes by way of increased sales, bigger deals, more commissions, a bolstered bottom line, and an all-around better life. This is the payoff, and this is why it’s worth your effort to truly understand this concept.
And look, I might have made it sound like you’re holding plutonium in your hands. But the truth is, most relationships don’t blow up (or snap) in a split second. It typically takes at least a few unforced errors before your prospect walks out of the meeting. So the thread is not that delicate. But I want you to pretend that it is that delicate. I want you to believe that the margin for error is razor thin. This way you stay laser-focused and alert on every single call you make.
Now go out there, capture hearts and minds, and keep the tension. You’ve got this.
Until next time…