The Selling Cry of the Lonely Hunter
Not long ago, I spoke with a customer who recounted an experience she had at a week-long class offered by one of the better-known sales training organizations. I’m sure you know the kinds of classes I am talking about. They’re promoted with emphatic headlines, screaming things like, “GET THEM TO YES!” and “SELLING HUNGRY!” And that’s just the advertising to get you to sign up. Once she took the class itself, she described almost cult-like scenes that seemed frozen in the past. Our customer was one of only three women who attended the seminar, and she didn’t appreciate the seminar leader’s characterization of his wife as the “best salesperson of all . . . because she got me to buy her so much jewelry.”
But what really turned this customer off was not so much the class leader’s use of cheesy anecdotes to rev up the attendees. It was the anachronistic and stubbornly old-school sales strategies that were elevated to the position of holy writ. She recounted two frequently used metaphors during the session that underscored her point. The first is the hoary old image of “every salesperson is a lonely hunter.” In other words, each is out there on the Serengeti on his or her own, hunting for big game, and will only eat if they find something to kill.
The second theme of the class was that of the salesperson as “king.” In it, the guy (since this class, like most, was oriented toward males) must do battle every day to bring the bounty (i.e., ...