The Inevitability of Impossible – by Kelly Riggs

Recently, I was talking with a sales manager at a high-end auto dealership who was telling me how his salespeople are often guilty of pre-judging a potential client based on their appearance and the car they currently drive.

One morning, he said, a very casually dressed customer drove up in a much older car, one that had clearly seen it’s better days. 

Worse, the customer was a female. And she was by herself.

DING-DING-DING!! Single mother in crummy car. TIME-WASTER!

Suddenly, every salesperson in the building (both male and female, by the way) was busy. Paperwork to do, phone calls to take, follow-up in the service area. You name it, everyone had an excuse. 

Except for the new guy. Time to pay his dues.

He trudged out and met the lady.

The other salespeople peeked around the corner, made sure the coast was clear, and then enjoyed a good laugh among themselves. “Poor guy,” they said. “What a waste of time.”

Impossible sale. But a good learning experience for the new guy, right?

But give him credit. He went through the entire sales process. No shortcuts here. He asked good questions. He listened carefully. He showed her a car and painstakingly went through the feature list.

And something crazy happened. 

Yup, she bought the car.

Yes, indeed. That single lady with the crummy car drove off the lot in a brand new Mercedes E-class sedan. Put down $30K against her $65,000 purchase. 

As it turns out, she was a pediatric physician. Her husband, also a physician, was in clinic so she was shopping by herself (the nerve!).

Oops.

Oh, by the way, she had just come over from another dealership because she couldn’t get anyone there to help her out or take her seriously.

The Power of Words

How often are salespeople guilty of pre-judging a prospect or an opportunity? And do you know what the most common excuse is for that bad habit? 

“I don’t want to waste my time.”

That one always sends me into uncontrollable laughter. As if salespeople don’t ever waste their time…

The problem is that when you prejudge, and your mind is made up, all other options disappear.

“It can’t be done.”

It is amazing how often these four words can grind an opportunity to a halt. 

When someone decides that “impossible” is the only possible outcome, creativity stops, opportunities disappear, and miracles never happen.

Impossible problems don’t get solved. 

Impossible circumstances cannot be overcome.

Robert Schuller said it quite eloquently in his book, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do:

Understand the power of this word: impossibility. When uttered aloud, this word is devastating in its effect. Thinking stops. Progress is halted. Doors slam shut. Research comes to a screeching halt. Further experimentation is torpedoed. Projects are abandoned. Dreams are discarded. The brightest and the best of creative brain cells turn off. In this defensive maneuver, the brain shelters itself against the painful sting of insulting disappointments, brutal rejections, and dashed hopes.

I was discussing one of those impossible situations with a client a while ago. 

Having tried in vain about a year ago to develop a business relationship with a potential customer, my client had given up. “We decided it was an impossible situation,” he said. Each sales call had produced the same response: “We currently work with a really good company and there is no reason at all to change.”

Is that so?

About a year later, my client hired a new salesperson – let’s call him Jim – who mentioned that very same customer as an opportunity, so they decided to make the sales call together. Funny how things change. In this sales call, the prospect said, “We’ve never had a reason to change, but now we need to find a way to do business with you guys. We’ve done business with Jim and we really like him.”

It appears that things aren’t always as impossible as they seem.

The company still had a perfectly good vendor, one they really liked. They were just as happy as before. But Jim represented value they were willing to sacrifice for. 

Customers are always willing to make a change when the value they perceive outweighs the hassle of a change. The trick is to find the value they will perceive to be of greater value than their current situation.

Back to Robert Schuller:

But let someone utter the magic words, it’s possible. Buried dreams are resurrected. Sparks of fresh enthusiasm flicker. Tabled motions are brought back to the floor. Dusty files are reopened. Lights go on again in the darkened laboratories. Telephones start ringing. Typewriters make clattering music. Budgets are revised and adopted. ‘Help wanted’ signs are hung out. Factories are retooled and reopened. New products appear. New markets open. The recession has ended. A great new era of adventure, experimentation, expansion and prosperity is born.

You know, optimism is often sorely underrated.

Just think of the seemingly impossible situations that have been overcome because someone decided that the word “impossible” wasn’t in their vocabularies. 

Failure is not an option.” Remember those famous words from Apollo 13 NASA Flight Director Gene Krantz? 

Many scientists thought the body incapable of running a 4-minute mile. Roger Bannister dismissed the idea and recorded the impossible on May 6, 1954.

Alan Turing created the machine (the first computer) that decoded the unsolvable messages created by the German’s Enigma device (don’t miss The Imitation Game).

It just doesn’t make sense to decide that something isn’t possible before you’ve got all the facts and exhausted every idea.

Especially in sales.

A former sales executive and two-time national Salesperson-of-the-Year, Kelly Riggs is an author, speaker, and business performance coach for executives and companies throughout the United States. His clients include companies ranging from $3 million dollars in annual revenue to in excess of $1 billion, and represent a variety of diverse industries, including professional services, construction, energy, automotive groups and more.

In 2015, he began his 9th year as founder and president of Business LockerRoom, Inc. www.bizlockerroom.com, a business performance improvement company located in Broken Arrow, OK.

He has written two books: “1-on-1 ManagementTM: What Every Great Manager Knows That You Don’t” and “Quit Whining and Start SELLING! A Step-by-Step Guide to a Hall of Fame Career in Sales.”

Kelly Riggs is the Founder of the Business LockerRoom, and host of #BizLockerRadio, airing Mondays at 3:00 p.m. CST. To receive his brand new ebook “Maximizing Your Sales Revenue,” click HERE.  For more information, visit www.bizlockerroom.com.

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