What we can learn from Yoda and Star Wars
Control is defined as, “the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.”

Maintain is defined as, “cause or enable (a condition or state of affairs) to continue.”

Thus our recipe for sales success today is “Maintain Control.”

A sale is a ‘transfer of enthusiasm’ and requires many small things to take place. It requires many foundational principles to be in play. It requires many verbal and non-verbal communications to occur. I may have the KNOWLEDGE of my product or service down pat, through and through. I may have the best ATTITUDE of any member of my team, or any salesman on the planet. But until I have the SKILL to transfer that knowledge and attitude into an emotional experience received by my customer, sales will not take place. Steven Covey taught us that these 3 elements – knowledge, skill, attitude, make up a HABIT. We all want sales success to be a habit.

Today’s focus is definitely a skill – which is good news. This means it can be learned – anyone can do it.

Of the principles at work in that chaotic symphony we call a “sale,” one element is invaluable – maintain control. I argue this is worth far more than other individual aspect of a sale, because it is a catalyst, creates synergy, and is a buffer. This means even if I am lacking in knowledge or attitude, if I hone this skill, it will multiply the good effect of my existing knowledge and attitude, and will greatly make up for my lack in other areas across the board.

If maintaining control is so valuable, how is it done? Simple sounding question, but with the myriad elements at work in a sale, the answer is not as simple. This skill is layered like an onion, with many levels from crude to elegant. Let us explore some of the makeup and results of maintaining control in our sales.

The first and simplest way to maintain control: use good QUESTIONS! This allows for me to listen to my prospect, allows them to create their own need, reveal their own concerns or hot-button benefits, and most importantly, points the interaction in the direction I want it to go – a win-win SALE! Good questions allow you to receive feedback! And you can consider it all positive feedback, because they’ll either agree with you and continue with your process, or you’ll discover their true concerns, and then know what you really need to address.

Secondly, be AGREEABLE. One of the quickest ways to lose control and destroy my chances for success is to allow confrontation into the interaction. By learning to be agreeable, avoiding confrontation, I will hold onto control much better.

Thirdly, have a clear PROCESS. You must have a logical sequence of steps to take to go from introduction to close.

But this is not enough! Ideally you must also have the skill to navigate your process tactfully, without harshness, destructive interaction, and a win-win result. As you journey down your process/path with your prospect toward the desired sale - the inevitable result of completing your process/path - intentionally create your experience together. Some try to carry their prospect down the path kicking and screaming. Some try to drag them. Some try to distract them, push them, blindfold them…you get the picture.

How do the best do it? The mental image is that of confidently walking hand-in-hand from the beginning to the end, perhaps with a stall or hesitation here and there by the prospect, but with caring reassurances and invitations all along the way, until one step at a time the sale is created! The journey is complete.

Selling this way, maintaining control this way, results in a true win-win situation, and customers who love your product and service, and will not regret your interaction.

Other benefits of maintaining control are:

*It allows you to put the focus where it truly belongs – on the benefits they’ll receive, rather than their concerns.

*It gives direction, traction, and momentum to your selling - in the individual sale, throughout this day, week, month, and ultimately this season.

*It allows you to set the rules. For example, when you ask a good question like, “When do you think most people get this done – before or after they have a problem?” (after) “You’re right…but you’re smarter than that, aren’t you?! If I get this to a place you can afford it, you’ll use it won’t you? You’ll let me help you get it?” (yeah)

You’ve set the rules! All that is truly remaining in the sales process is to get them to agree they can afford your offer. Then if they try to go back on their agreement to let you help them get it, you can gently and agreeably remind them they said they’d do it if the price was affordable, and that they indeed agreed the price was affordable.

Selling is like running a complicated piece of machinery – there are many gears and pieces working together to create one result, and I, the salesman, have to opportunity to either watch the machine cramp up, seize up, blow up… or deftly maneuver the controls, take the driver’s seat, and glide to a smooth landing… How exciting!

I encourage you to examine your process and skill of maintaining control. It will come inch by inch, in small increments. Layer by layer as you develop THIS SKILL, your sales will improve dramatically.

“Life is just a game of inches,” says Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, “the margin for error is so small, I mean, one half step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it… The inches we need are everywhere around us.”

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