While undergoing a medical procedure recently I discovered that salespeople are everywhere—even in white lab coats. So I'd like to share with you a few of the things I learned from my visit to the doctor that can help you diagnose more sales opportunities:

  • Eat balanced meals.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Lift with your legs.
  • When selling a service or product, a presentation that blends equal parts confidence, knowledge, and patience is most effective.
  • Years of ignoring lesson No. 3 led me to learn lesson No. 4. I had the symptoms of a hernia. (Here you may insert your favorite ribbing comment about a pencil pusher getting a hernia.) So off I went to see a surgeon.

    The particular surgeon I visited was referred to me by a friend. This in itself was a related sales lesson: Referrals matter. Regardless of the fact that I had never met this doctor before, I had a connection to him through the recommendation, and that helped me feel at ease. I've always valued referred leads as a salesperson, but until now, I had never realized how much they meant from the customer's point of view.

    The surgeon diagnosed my hernia in about 32 seconds. Then, like a salesperson, he had to convince me of two things: first, that I should have it fixed; and second, that I should let him do the work.

    The first sales pitch was almost unnecessary. I knew I had to get this thing fixed. I say “almost” because though the conclusion was forgone, the pitch allowed the doctor to show me something about him. He succinctly explained why I should have the procedure, then listened to my questions, answered each one thoroughly, and (and this was very effective for me) asked if his answers satisfied my queries.

    Then the good doctor set out to explain why he should be the surgeon that I would allow to cut into my precious skin. This is where he shined. He spoke about his methods and demonstrated confidence in his skills and pride in the facility in which he worked. He had a great knowledge of the patch he would stick into my belly, and told me all about the latest stitch-less bandages he would use to close me back up.

    If I didn't hate the thought of getting cut open so much, I would have downright enjoyed the whole conversation.

    Now, I am aware that selling lumber and millwork is not brain surgery. It's not even hernia surgery. But sales is sales, and we can all learn something from my rather painful experience.

    The next time you are meeting with a lead, try to be like my surgeon. Hopefully the lead is a referral, so you know he is at ease with you and trusts you as a credible businessperson. Then use your time together to showcase your thorough understanding of the project at hand. Though you know he is going to be doing the project, don't rush the first pitch. Answer his questions and patiently let him reconfirm that he is moving forward.

    Then, with confidence, explain why you and your firm should be the lumber and millwork supplier to carefully spec in, procure, and deliver precisely what the doctor ordered.