A Tale Of Two Widget Salesmen

Many people see sales as an exercise in confrontation. If you’ve ever bought a high ticket item like a car, then you know what I’m talking about. You want to get a cheap price, and the seller wants to make as much money as possible. For the most part, the difficulties in buying and selling aren’t centered around the price, they’re centered around the transaction itself.

Consider somebody who is selling widgets at a booth. Say the booth is at a home show. For every widget he sells, he’ll make a profit of a dollar. Naturally, the more widgets he sells, the more money he takes. If he had his druthers, he’d sell a widget to everybody that passed him by. This is precisely what he tries to do.

He comes up with a huge pitch, designed to lure in as many people as possible. He claims this widget can do anything, so more people will want it. Because he is so good a persuasion, or sales, a lot of people are convinced they want this widget. They get it home, still feeling happy that they’ve bought this widget.

But a few days and weeks pass, and they find they really don’t have much use for this widget. After a while, they wonder why they bought the thing. Soon their friends start asking them why they bought it. They don’t know. They say they were conned into buying it. The salesperson was really pushy. They bought it just to be polite.

Pretty soon this widget seller has developed a reputation as a pushy salesperson. He has to travel to a new city every couple months, because he quickly wears out his welcome. Such is the life of a traveling widget salesman.

Now consider another widget salesman. He doesn’t promise the moon. He just says what the widget does. His reputation is more important to him than anything. Instead of trying to sell his widget to every single person that walks by, he qualifies his customers. He asks them questions to make sure they can get a real use out of the widget. Plenty of people like the widget, think it looks cool, but the widget salesman is clear that they really won’t get much use out of it, unless they really do need it.

So a lot fewer people buy his widgets. But the ones that do, really use it. And enjoy it. And tell all their friends. Pretty soon people that really need this widget are beating down this poor widget salesman’s door trying to buy his product.

Before long, he’s got a huge mail order business, and he doesn’t have to do any more traveling to sell his widgets. He can relax at home, while his business runs itself. He out-sources all the people he needs to handle his orders.

The first widget salesman was worried about not selling anything, and thus created a life of hardship. The second widget salesman was convinced of the quality of his product, and in the interest of his reputation, only wanted to put it in the hands of people who really needed it. As a result, he lives and easy life with easy money.

Which one are you?