This week I’m letting you in on the Special Forces of sales hacks. It goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers and involves hidden insignia’s for all you conspiracy lovers. Incredibly, this secret sales code has been hiding in plain sight since the late 1700’s, and became standardized by law in 1875. I didn’t want to go here, but a particular sales call last week pushed me into it.  I had one of those meetings where it started with great intentions of surfacing client need, but the prospects didn’t play ball. They deflected all the need questions with “nothing in particular really, just wanted to see it,” type responses.  I could just as easily get a follow up meeting with them or a personal protection order, the non-descript hallmark of a terrible sales conversation.  Hence, I’m annoyed with myself and hence, this post.  Desperate times remind me to teach you extreme measures.

The incredible code I am about to reveal is engraved on every single US coin. You heard me. Every. US. Coin.  The translation from Latin is, “One, out of many,” and also, “From many, one,” but you know it as:

E Pluribus Unum.

I can tell from your silence that you don’t believe this motto has anything to do with selling. Most people believe this to indicate that our nation is made up of many individual states, and later, that America’s many cultures and nationalities blend into one society. But we’re not “most people” are we?

A rock solid strategy for surfacing need in a sales meeting is to E Pluribus Unum your sales bag. If you have one product, sell as if you have many. If you have many, sell as if you have one. Let me explain a little more.

If you have one product…

You have a lot of work to do making sure every prospect matches up to your one product. So before long, it really doesn’t matter what the client’s unique needs are, the tendency is make assumptions about their needs and prematurely show them how awesome and versatile your product is.

To overcome this bad habit, make a list of five different applications of your one product. Pretend these are actually five products you have for sale. At your next sales meeting, resist the temptation to pitch any one of them until you know which product your client needs most and is therefore most likely to buy. That’s how savvy reps with multiple products or even multiple product lines operate.

It will force you to lengthen your client Q&A, and it will force you to think up good open ended questions that allow you to differentiate their need for one “product” vs. another. One, out of many.

If you have multiple products…

You are juggling a smorgasbord of options, potentially decreasing your pedagogical understanding of each of them. The danger for you is oversimplifying sales questions (So are you looking for Math or ELA?) just so you can quickly pare down what is getting pulled out of the bag. Once your selection is made, you potentially fall into the same trap as reps with only one product…you fail to identify the specific application that is going to resonate with your prospect. On top of that, you can miss an opportunity to suggest a second or third product that a few deeper questions would have uncovered.

Your challenge is to take the flip side of the coin (so to speak), and find the unifying themes of all your products to roll them into one line of questioning. Ask “Tell Me’s” that reveal the district’s goals and culture: “Tell me about intervention,” “Tell me about transitioning your standards,” “Tell me about 21st Century Learning.”   Latch onto theme(s) that match those of your line or lines, then showcase products as unified components of the theme. From many, one.

I told you, this is Rambo-level selling. Deep undercover covert ops stuff, passed down from our Founding Fathers through a secret not-so-hidden code. Tough but necessary work. I simply refuse to let educators buy from me the wrong way because, word of mouth being what it is in the K-12 space, no B2E company can afford to have an unhappy customer. And not only do I not want them unhappy with my product, I REALLY don’t want someone to become the unhappy owner of someone else’s product. Don’t let your sales come down to a coin flip – follow the secret code to better selling!

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