A Sales Lesson from “The Bachelor”

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My wife and I have become hooked this season on “The Bachelor” on ABC. The other night I uncovered a vital sales lesson within the show that you can use to build your practice right. But first…

For those of you intelligentsia who would never partake of such cotton candy amusement, here is a synopsis: Good looking straight and successful dude, somehow still single at 29, decides he wants to get married. The producers of the show hustle up 25 knockout women for him to choose from over 13 weeks of hijinks and drama. Eventually, he will select one lucky lady to be his wedded wife and break the hearts of thousands.

This is a fab show to watch with your significant other; it is hilarious. It demands ongoing catty commentary from husband and wife due to the sheer absurdity of:

• Why is this guy still single? Don’t the women in Dallas (in his case) recognize meat on the hoof when they see it?

• Why are these women still out there? This is the surprising and sad part: during this season, all are quite comely; many are intelligent, professional and definitely marriage material. One had serious “issues” which made for OMG moments. Back in the day, when I was in college, any and all of these ladies would have been corralled and married by my fraternity brothers by the time they graduated or shortly thereafter. But now, their clocks are ticking and the available men are in short supply.

• This Bachelor tells each woman the same things: I can see myself spending my life with you, you’re so special, yada yada. He makes out with all of them. What a cad. My wife and I started making up dialog for him as it was all the same for each woman.

In this week’s saga, there are four women left of the 25. This week he is visiting each gal’s family. Are you hooked yet? Can you imagine looking a dad in the eye (one of them a 2-star General), when you are courting – and kissing – three other women at the same time? Can I bring my posse with? There were major faux pas made by two of the families that did cost one of the women their shot at wedded bliss.

This leads to a Big Sales Mistake: Not setting the up-front agreement.

This means one needs to tell “the buyer” what might happen (perhaps negatively) and what the buyer needs to do to overcome this obstacle and still make the sale for the seller.

Example: “Mr. Prospect, it’s time for you to meet the outstanding professionals that will be working on your account. I know you will be as fond and amazed about them as we partners are. Before we move forward, let me inform you that they are all from another dimension, have only one Cyclops eye (good for concentration) and speak Klingon. Please don’t let that influence your ultimate decision in any way. If you are uncomfortable, let’s discuss it before you make a final decision and we might find some humans to take their place.”

What happens if we don’t warn the buyer in this situation? Quite likely they will say no. Rather, we need to take away their objections before they can give them to us, before we lose the sale. We need to tell them to hold on before they decide against us, or they won’t because they didn’t know better.

20 years ago I toured England speaking to various CA firms over there. Love the country, their people, their relaxed sense of life, and hate the food. A large regional firm had me speak on client retention to about 200 of their manager level staff. The managing director pulled me aside and said, “Allan. See that one? She’s a keeper; she’ll be a partner. Gwynneth, will you please say allow to our guest from across the pond?”

Indeed, she was an impressive young lady. Some people just have it, and you can tell right away: the smarts, charisma, leadership potential, a personality clients will love.

“Wow,” I said. “She’s a keeper! Y’all (some southern lingo, here) are lucky!”

A year later I went back and spoke to the MD. “Where’s Gwynneth?” I asked. “How is she doing?”

“Uh, she’s no longer with us,” he replied.

“Oh no, did something happen to her?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. She went to one of our competing firms.”

Ouch. This firm trained their competitor’s future partner for free.

“What happened? Didn’t she know she was a future partner and that she wasn’t supposed to leave?”

“Uh, no. We never had that conversation with her.”

The lack of an up-front agreement bit someone in the backside again.

This week Bachelorette #4 did not warn Mr. Bachelor-Dude that her brother was a psycho and was most likely just released from prison. Instead, our young stud walked into a family that was not at all what he expected. That old emotional swing (see The “I-Hate-Selling” Book) went from positive to negative in a real hurry (as can happen in every selling situation).

The really sad thing was that our hero really, really adored this girl. She reminded me of my wife: sweet, considerate, selfless and pretty. Someone you would want to mother your children and be your partner for life, as I have been blessed.

#4 could’ve set an up-front agreement with The Bachelor like this: “Sean, darling, you know I adore you, and I love my family. I need to warn you ahead of time that my brother sometimes forgets to take his medication and can be a little – uh, a lot – rough around the edges. PLEASE do not let this get in the way of our future life ahead. Please don’t let him ruin our marriage.”

Thus warned, Sean would have expected the worst, and found it (and been prepared to deal with it). Instead, he expected this wonderful Cleaver-type family and instead got the Bundys’ on crystal meth. It was too much for him to grasp so suddenly. Tragically, this young lady was sent home, a decision our Bachelor friend may regret the rest of his life.

Lesson Learned from The Bachelor: Use an “Up-Front Agreement” to create the outcome you want when trying to “close the deal.”

Allan S. Boress, CPA, FCPA is the author of 12 published books on marketing, selling and managing the business development process for CPAs. He has consulted with over 500 professional firms and trained over 200,000 professionals since 1980. His “I-Hate-Selling” methodology is available at www.ihateselling.com and amazon.com

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