I just read a superb LinkedIn post from Lori Gaffney, CEO at BPN – Borders Perrin Norrander about doing “favors” for clients. The take away was that the vast majority of favors are merely leveraging chips to be cashed in at a later time. Insincere attempts to curry favor. She’s spot on and I commend the article to your reading HERE.

Since I love movie metaphors, it made me think of the final scene in “Clear and Present Danger” (1994), when the POTUS and our hero Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) are in the Oval Office:

Jack Ryan … “It gives me no pleasure to do it, sir. As acting deputy director of intelligence, it is my duty to report this matter to the Senate oversight committee.” 

President Bennett … “You’re not going to do that.” 

Jack … “I’m not?” 

President Bennett … “No, no. You’ve got yourself a chip in the big game now. You’re gonna tuck that away, you are going to save that for a time when your own ass is on the line and then you’re gonna pull it out. And I’m going to cash it in for you. Right?” 

Moral: Don’t masquerade helping by doing favors that you intend to cash in on later. Help or don’t. I often coach media teams on the principle of helping – as in “Helping is the New Selling”. The fundamental premise is that clients resonate with Like-Mindedness. You (sales) are thinking on behalf of their problems and are trying to help them find solutions. Often that means studying their business, deeply. Understanding the challenges they face and offering solutions. I’m often asked, “If I’m not going to sell them something, what do I say if I get them on the phone (or meet them at a networking event, etc.)?” How about:

1.    Review their website, carefully and look for any functionality problems. How many reps call up a customer and simply say “Bill, I noticed a problem on your website and thought you’d like to know about it”.

2.    I came into your store and noticed the clientele are largely Moms with kids. Is this your core customer or are you hoping to attract others?

3.    I ordered a product from your company and wanted to give you some feedback on the packaging (good or bad).

4.    There’s a new competitor in the market and I stopped in to see how they ran things. Wanted to share one good and one bad reaction from that visit.

The list can go on of course, but these approaches are likely very aligned with your client’s mindset. Like-mindedness is how sales people elevate from being one of a droning chorus of sellers asking the client for some of their marketing funds, into a what I call an MVA “Most Valuable Asset”. A helper. No strings, just help. When sellers assume this stance, it stands to reason the customer will, if nothing else, appreciate the input, and over time, being more open to your voice over the rest of the chorus.

Selling, can now begin on much more respected level.

Yes, it’s playing a slightly longer game vs the closings and goals you have each month and quarter, but practiced with conviction and regularity, like-mindedness is the ultimate connector. Neglect that, and play the insincere “favor chip” game, and you’re likely to get the response that closes that final scene:

President Bennett … “The old Potomac two-step Jack.”

Jack … “I’m sorry Mr. President, I don’t dance.”

As always…I welcome, encourage, and value all feedback and comments.