Sales Success Comes in Cans


Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of YSS eZines over the last few months.

As I said in my last eZine, my wife and I went with some other family members to the UK for six weeks. (Great trip!)

My problems started just at the end of the trip where I developed the flu.
By the time I got home I had pleurisy.
I recovered from that just in time for the busy holiday period in the other small business I own.
After playing catch up with paperwork and submitting quarterly reports and returns to the Tax Office I got Kidney Stones!

Enough of my woes, it’s great to be healthy again and I look forward to working with you to achieve Your Sales Success.

I have a story for you from my trip and it relates to the heading of this eZine. See if you can pick the relevance before I tie it all together at the end.

My story starts at 9.30pm on a Thursday evening at Heathrow airport in London. We have just been called to board our return flight to Australia, which was due to leave at 10.30pm.

The first thing I noticed, as we started to make our way to our seats near the back of the plane (don’t know how we managed that), was the lack of a certain noise I am used to hearing on planes. It got progressively warmer as we moved down the isles.

That’s when I realised the air conditioning was not working.
Sure enough, minutes later we got an announcement from the captain saying that there was a problem with the aircon and all would be OK as soon as the plane was loaded and we could start some engines. (No probs, a minor inconvenience.)

It must have been about 10.15pm when I heard the baggage doors close.

Shortly after that they attempted to start the engines.
What followed was that noise of an engine dying.
A dull flat burrrhhh.
The lights dimmed momentarily.

Moments later the pleasant voice of the captain was wafting over the intercom again. “Sorry, we can’t start the engines. The battery at the terminal that powers the aircon on the plane is also used to start the engines and it has insufficient power to get us started. We will get a portable unit (i.e. a jumpstarter) and should have the engines started in about 15 minutes.”

About 45 minutes later, at around 11pm we were informed that the portable unit had arrived. Shortly, after that we heard a whirring noise followed by burrrhhh.

Again the captains voice. “Terribly sorry, we can’t seem to start the engine. We’ll have to get the other portable unit. This will probably take about another 15 minutes. I understand that it’s quite warm in the cabin but it will cool down quickly once we get the engines started.”

About 30 minutes after that the passengers started to become annoyed. 
Shouting at the crew with various suggestions:
“get us off the plane”,
“get a door open”, 
“cancel the flight” etc etc, 
anything to get out of the stifling atmosphere in the plane.

The co-pilot told us that we can’t go back in the terminal and that we can’t open the doors without a set of steps and we can’t get a set of steps.

Finally they managed to get a set of movable steps and opened the doors. Near the back of the plane was a young woman with a 12-month-old baby. All the passengers moved back to let her and the child to the door where there was cool, fresh air. (It always heartens me to see people bond like this and cooperate to help someone in trouble.)

Also at this time the crew began passing around cool water for people to drink, much too late I thought. It seemed the crew only thought of doing this after some prompting from the passengers.

At about 11.45pm the second portable starter unit arrived.
An engine was successfully started, the doors were closed and we thought we were underway.
No such luck!

The pilot them came on the airwaves to announce gleefully, “ we have managed to start No1 engine, now hopefully we can start No:2.” (I can’t believe the pilot put it that way.)

Shortly after that comment one of the passengers pulled aside one of the flight staff and suggested the captain put some of the older and inexperienced fliers at ease by explaining that once the engines got running they would keep running. We were in no danger once the engines were running. To his credit the captain made an announcement within minutes.

Next we heard No:2 engine fire up. Everyone was starting to feel better, still no air in the cabin though. Then the captain announced that we needed all four engines to be running to start the aircon and, you guessed it, we can’t start all four engines in this area of the terminal. He had to wait for a vehicle to tow us back from the terminal.

Then we were told that we had lost our position in the takeoff schedule.

Finally, we managed to take off sometime around 1.30am but not before: 
two people collapsed and were given oxygen and 
a big row ensued between one of the passengers and the head steward.

The latter was very interesting. 
From memory the final comments from the passenger started something like,
“ Who do you think you are talking to? 
Just because I choose to travel economy doesn’t make me any less of a passenger than someone in first class. 
Don’t talk, just shut up and listen for a change….” 
By the way, many of the people near the incident cheered wildly when he said that. 
It turned out the passenger was a lawyer.

OK, what has all this to do with selling? 
And, what’s it to do with the title of this article?

The title of this issue is part of a quote I read many years ago.

“Success comes in cans, not in CAN’Ts”

All we seemed to be getting from the crew on that flight was we can’t do this and we can’t do that.

What’s that got to do with sales, EVERYTHING!

The crew were in a position of customer service. 
As salespeople we are all in customer service positions. 
(Remember, the word sell is derived from the Norwegian word selje, which means, “to serve”.) 

We can learn a lot about how not to behave from this flight crew.
On the positive side they did at least listen to what some of the passengers were saying. 
They would have handled the situation much better if they’d followed some of the concepts below.
And your life in sales could be a lot easier if you followed these concepts too. 

Firstly, don’t keep telling your prospect what you can’t do.
Focus on how you can help them, especially in a crisis.

Secondly, be conservative with your promised delivery times. 
Several times the captain told us things would happen in 15 minutes and each time it took 45 minutes. 
In many ways this inflamed an already tense situation. 
If you think you can deliver the goods on Monday promise delivery Tuesday or Wednesday. 
If it’s late your OK and if it IS delivered on Monday you are a hero.

Thirdly, I was amazed by the lack of proactivity of the flight crew. 
They didn’t even think to hand around water to the passengers. 
As a salesperson it’s part of your job to think about what could go wrong both during the salescall and during the delivery.
Like the boy scout, be prepared.
What can you do to prevent any problems with the delivery?
What will you say if the prospect raises that issue?

Finally, there seemed a distinct lack of customer focus throughout the whole incident. 
The captain mentioned a couple of times it’s a bit uncomfortable for all of the passengers and he was uncomfortable too.
Well, frankly, most passengers couldn’t care less if he was uncomfortable! 
He was being paid to do a job, whereas they had all paid for a flight that was becoming a very unpleasant experience. 
He had no idea what it was like in the back of the plane.
Personally, by the time we took off I was sitting in a puddle of my own perspiration (I had a fever), and as I mentioned earlier two older people actually passed out.

Do you think that this airline is doing well, or struggling?

Should I name the airline, probably not? 
Someone might try to sue me. 
Lets just say I wish them the best of BRITISH luck trying to compete with their competitors out there on the AIRWAYS.

And one of the things you CAN DO to improve your sales results is work on your influence and persuasion skills.

Enough for this month.

Here's to YourSalesSuccess.

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