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Creating the Opportunity to Sell

By Andrew Wood
Posted Saturday, September 4, 2004

Sun Tsu once said that "One cannot afford to neglect opportunity." Nowhere is this more true than in the field of sales.

I am always amused when I see a business with a sign on the door that says, "No Soliciting." After all, if they don't want to meet people, why are they in business in the first place. I was sitting in a Karate school talking with the owner, when the door opened to admit a young, well dressed, African American with a big smile on his face. He greeted us enthusiastically and then rolled up his sleeves to reveal about a dozen gold chains on each arm. My friend told him that we were not interested, but I told him to hold on and give the guy a chance to make his pitch.

Whenever possible, I always like to hear the sales pitch -- no matter what the product. None of us are ever too smart to learn a new line or pick up a new technique. Some of the people who go door to door on the street can be the best. If they are not, they don't eat. In fact, I have often asked people who walked in off the street to come and work for me because they are so good at what they do. On top of that, everyone is a prospect.

We listened to his sales pitch as he showed us each of the gold chains, described the style in detail, and told us just why we had to have one at his ridiculously low prices. In short, he was pretty good.

When I asked him if his merchandise was real gold, he replied, "Of course it's real gold." Then I asked the price, and he told me each chain had a different value, but they started at just $99. I asked if he carried a gun when he was selling the chains, and he said, "No." I asked if he carried a knife or some other type of weapon, and he shook his head. Incredulously I asked, "You walk around this city unarmed, with $3,000 worth of gold on your arm? Do you know how many people get mugged every day? You must have taken martial arts lessons. Right?" Again, he hesitated and said, "No,"

but qualified it with, "but I've thought about it."
I asked him to come into the workout area for a moment, so I could demonstrate a few grab techniques. After a few minutes he was bubbling with enthusiasm. "Hey, that stuff's good. How much are lessons?" he asked. Now it was my turn. I went into my normal sales pitch, after which he responded, "Man, I'd like to do this, but I haven't sold anything yet today and I don't have any money."

Guess what we took as payment for his first month of lessons, registration and uniform? You've got it -- two gold chains. My buddy could hardly believe what had happened, and it was fun for me. After that he never threw out a salesman again.

Make a game of getting the most unlikely person you can find to buy from you. Even if nothing else happens, your performance will improve in the vital area of creativity. After all, have you ever met anyone who could not benefit in some way from your wonderful product or service? Get yourself and your staff into the habit of believing that everyone is a prospect until they prove they are not.

Butch Cassidy on Sales
There is a wonderful scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that perfectly demonstrates the attributes of a Confident Salesman . In this scene, Butch's Hole in the Wall Gang has just robbed the Union Pacific Flyer just outside of town. The Sheriff is standing on the porch outside his office, talking to a crowd of indifferent townsfolk. He is trying desperately to raise a posse to go after the gang, while Butch and Sundance watch from a balcony across the street.

After the sheriff has tried in vain for a while to arouse any interest among his listeners, a man wheeling a bicycle steps to the front of the crowd and joins him. Turning to the crowd he announces that it's time for them to meet the future mode of transportation. The sheriff demands to know what the man thinks he is doing,

to which he replies, "Well Sheriff, since you got such a nice crowd together, I just thought I'd do a little selling." Now that's the Confident Salesman at his finest, seizing each and every opportunity to share his product or service with the world.

Last year, I sold three sets of my audio program, "Making it Big In America, How to get ahead in business and in life," at $60 a set, to wrong numbers. One was a man from North Carolina looking for an auto parts store. Another was a local mortgage broker looking for a Mr. Dillard and the third set went to a 72 year old man looking for house paint! I told him that it was his lucky day, because he had reached Personal Quest and we teach success. He said he was 72 years old, retired for seven years, and that he didn't need to worry about success any more. I quickly asked if he had any sons. He replied, "Yes, and they're all bums." After I explained exactly how my audio tapes might help them get their act together, the sale was made, closed by offering our special wrong number discount of 20% off the retail price!

The great majority of sales are lost, not because of poor sales technique, but simply because the prospect is not directly asked to buy. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said "Above all, try something!"

About the Author
Andrew Wood is a sales & marketing expert & author of; Selling With Confidence, Building A Legendary Reputation, Conquering Your Market With a One Man Army, Making it Big, Legendary Leadership, and The Traits of Champions. He can be reached at ( or Mail to: or 352-527-3553


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