ROBERT LEHRER HAS BEEN AN INDEPENDENT B2B group benefits broker for more than twenty years. He told us about an encounter with a cynical buyer. Right at the start, this buyer took exception to his ideas and repeatedly interrupted him. He tried to win her over with his charm and product benefits. She seemed uninterested in both. Robert knew he was at a disadvantage as a seller because, he believed, buyers inherently mistrust sellers and the clock was ticking, allowing little opportunity for him to demonstrate his trustworthiness.
After trying everything he knew to say or do, Robert gave up. It was long past the end of a typical day, and he was tired. In frustration, he candidly said, “I'm here only because you invited me to come and I'll be happy to leave if you'd like me to because I'd rather be home playing with our new pet rabbit right now.”
What happened next took him by surprise.
The scowl on this woman's face suddenly turned into a look of curiosity, and she immediately asked me all about our new rabbit. She told me that she and her husband love rabbits. This led us to talk more about our personal interests, and eventually turned to why we were involved in our respective capacities, why what we did mattered, and how we could work with one another in a mutually beneficial fashion.
The outcome was one of the largest sales Robert had made to that point in his career. “A previous dud of an appointment,” ...