In the 1998 romantic fantasy, Meet
Joe Black, Anthony Hopkins plays a mega media mogul who is
about to die at a relatively young age. As the movie opens, Brad Pitt
is a sales rep sitting in a coffee shop who by chance meets Hopkin’s
daughter, a young medical doctor played by Claire Forlani. Pitt and
Forlani have a love at first sight connection. They part but never get
each other’s names. Pitt then walks away from the coffee shop, gets
hit by a bus and dies instantly. This provides a body that the
personality of "Death" can take to come and get Hopkins. So Death (in
Brad Pitt’s body) ends up at the Hopkins estate and appears to be a
friend of Hopkins. Claire Forlani can’t believe that the guy she met
in the coffee shop is a friend of her Dad’s. Pitt, now with his body
inhabited with the personality of Death (not the guy in the coffee
shop) and Forlani fall in love. Forlani knows something isn’t quite
right, but is so in love she ignores her intuitive warnings.
At a critical point in the movie,
Hopkins confronts Death, who is in love his daughter, and asks him
what his plans are for her. Surely she can’t have a long-term
relationship with Death. Death says that they love each other. Hopkins
explodes and says that what they have isn’t love because she doesn’t
know who he really is. She is in love with the guy she met at the
coffee shop not Death. He further explains that love is knowing
everything there is to know about someone and only then can the other
person choose to be your partner based on who you really are.
I won’t spoil the ending in case you
never saw the movie. My brief description of the story can’t capture
the great acting and opulence of this visually spectacular epic. It is
worth a look, or a re-look.
So why have I added movie critic to my
long list of duties? If you are a Relationship-builder in your
approach to sales rather than a Client-Controller, you care more about
people and your relationship with the client than you do about making
the sale. Sure you want to make the sale, but you are not
going to do everything you can to get your client to buy like a
Client-Controller would. You are going to help your client make an
educated decision that feels right to them and trust their decision
whatever it is. This is the basic premise of the Selling
It occurred to me that this is the same
point that Hopkins was trying to get across to the personality of
Death in Brad Pitt’s body. You say everything there is to say to the
person you care about. You tell them everything there is to know about
you, and then let the "chips fall where they may." (You trust the
other person to do what feels right to them.)
As a Relationship-Builder, you find out
everything you can about your client’s finances, how they feel about
what they are doing with their money, and what their hopes and dreams
are. You find out what they want that they don’t have. You show them
options on the best ways to achieve their goals. You educate them on
the pros and cons of the best options. You make them aware of the
consequences of not doing anything. And then, at the end of all that,
you ask them to make a decision based on what feels right to them.
You and your client, "say everything there is to say to each other,
then let the chips fall where they may."
I once coached a woman named Leslie who
was selling Long Term Care insurance with some Client-Controller
types. They were doing a very aggressive one-call close sales
approach. She was dedicated to the concept of Long Term Care insurance
and what it could do for people. She was very technically astute about
the products and had been a nurse for many years prior. But she felt
horrible using the tactics of the Client-Controllers.
After hearing Leslie relate all the
frightening details of the aggressive approach being used by the
Client-Controllers, I asked her this question. Could you have an
appointment with your parents tonight and help them make an objective
decision about whether or not they should own Long Term Care
Insurance? She said, "Absolutely!" I said, that is all you
ever need to do with anyone!
I said go help people make an educated,
objective decision that feels right to them. This isn’t about trying
to sell everyone you talk to. This is about helping people make the
decision that feels right to them. If it turns out to be a sale,
great. And it often will with this approach!
If the conversation doesn’t turn into a
sale, you have still succeeded in helping someone make an informed
decision that feels right to them. What often happens when you treat
people with this level of honor and respect, is that they will find
something else they need to buy and you end with the sale of another
And who is more likely to be willing to
give you referrals, someone who has just been hammered into a corner,
or someone who really appreciates you for the approach you have taken
and the help you have given them in making an informed decision that
feels right to them.
Rent the video Meet Joe Black. It
will give you an analogous metaphor to hold the power of
the low-key approach. (This movie isn’t violent but it isn’t for
As to Leslie’s success…I talked to her a
few weeks after we had our conversation. She left the
Client-Controller’s to work on her own selling Long Term Care and was
making one or more sales a week without all the trauma and drama!
Enjoy your summer,
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