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An Ironic Technique

Years ago, a good friend was invited to speak at one of those big motivational events. You know the kind: They advertise celebrity speakers such as George W. Bush, Mr. T, and one famous Southern college football coach or another. They set the admission price low enough to fill the venue and then make their money by the speakers' 12-step programs, workbooks, coaching, and so on.

As my friend prepared to walk onto the stage from behind the curtain, the producer asked him what close he would use.

Not familiar with industry lingo, my friend heard, “What clothes…?” and said he would wear what he had on.

“No, no, no,” the producer said over his cigarette stub. What close, what sales technique are you using? The Sharp Angle Close? The Artisan Close? The Puppy Dog Close? The Backwards Close…?”

“Wha…?” my friend mumbled, too nervous and distracted to respond properly. (Later, he told me he thought the producer was reciting Yoga poses, not or sales closes). Without answering, my friend waited a second or two until he was introduced and then went out on stage and started his .

He said his 12-minute pitch went fine. Everything was good until he started talking about the products he had for sale.

An Ironic Sales Technique

He had turned around to gather all the CDs stacked on a stool behind him. When he turned back around to face the crowd, he didn't realize the mic operator had lowered the boom. My friend hit the heavy microphone right between his eyes.

Stunned by pain and surprise, he dropped to his knees and dropped all the CDs he had cradled in his arms. They popped out of their cases and started rolling around the stage in every direction. Some fell off the platform, some rolled behind the curtain, and some just circled him in crazy patterns until they lost momentum and slowly rotated themselves down onto the wooden floor of the stage.

My friend sat there crestfallen. After what seemed like an eternity, he dropped his head, threw up his arms, and said quietly, “I was going to offer you my training package for half of its regular twelve-hundred-dollar price, but now you can have anything you want for just… shoot, I don't even know, how about $200? Just see me in the lobby later… if you want to…”

He reached for his glasses, wiped the blood from his nose, picked up a few of his errant CDs, and slinked off the stage in disgrace.

But when he got behind the curtain, the producer ran up to him and greeted him with open arms and a big .

An Ironic Sales Technique

“Oh my lord,” the producer said excitedly, “that was the greatest Fallen Sparrow Close I have ever seen. What a sales technique!! You are a master salesman!”

I don't have to tell you that once my friend got out to his lobby sales booth, people were lined up waiting for him. When the afternoon was over, he sold every CD, workbook, and program he had brought along. He even took money from more people, promising to follow up and send them more materials.

As I wrote in my last book, Is That All There Is?and as our group discusses in my Together with Turkel Strategic Roundtables, sometimes the most thing you can do is turn your liability into an asset. Or, as I wrote in the book, “Make Your Scar Your Star.”

An Ironic Sales Technique

The simple humanity of accepting and presenting our fallibility – whether planned or not – works in sales, , and life.

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