November 1, 2017

What is Your Canyon to Cross?

Are you ever in the middle of a sales opportunity with your client and frustration hits an all-time high?  No matter which way you slice it or how much you thought you had prepared, you just can’t get the customer to see the value in the solution?  We are on opposite sides of a large canyon – how do I get them over to the other side?  My goal is always to resolve a customer’s problem.  Now, how do I get there?

Recently a CEO I know, Jessica, spoke at an event I attended.  She was telling the story about a girls trip she took for her friend’s birthday.  This wasn’t a spa trip by any means.  Most people would be happy heading to their favorite Mexican spot for tacos and fresh lime margaritas, but not Jessica’s friend.  Nope!  Her friend wanted to take a hike.  But, it wasn’t just any hike–she wanted to hike rim to rim at the Grand Canyon – in one day.  For those of you who don’t know about rim to rim, hikers have been known to die on this journey.  There are warning signs prior to entering the Grand Canyon that you should not do the hike in one day.


Regardless of all the warnings, they proceeded with their plans.  In preparation for their journey, they did some pre-hikes, read all the right books, ate properly, packed an adequate water and food supply, made sure their packs weren’t too heavy and even created a timeline to ensure they rested during the hottest points of the day.  They were ready!  So off they went… selfie stick in tow.

Unfortunately, things started to go sideways just before the halfway point.  One of their friends, we will call her Sally, wasn’t feeling great at all.  Sally had hit a wall.  She was weak and was experiencing blurry vision and vomiting.  She could barely put one foot in front of the other.  The group helped her along, but she had to keep moving because they had a couple of miles before they would reach a medic or resting point.Goal

After observation and some rest at the medic station, Sally was cleared and faced  two options: she could rest overnight or keep going.  Sally’s decision would affect the entire group because if Sally stayed, they all had to stay.  Jessica realized at this point the tears had to stop.  They were running out of daylight and it was time for a Radical Candor call to action.   Radical Candor is simply saying what you think while also giving a damn about the person you are saying it to.  So, in this case it probably went something like this: “Sally, I know you are exhausted, tired and feel like you can’t go on.  We all really want you to feel better, too.  However, you are getting up right now and we are finishing this hike because staying here is not an option.  So, get up and let’s go.”

Everyone took turns helping Sally up the canyon.  They cheered her on, carried her pack and lifted her spirits as much as they possibly could along the way.  Sally survived and completed the hike.

When I originally heard Jessica tell this story, I thought of all the times I’ve been in a situation where I threw up my arms out of frustration and I soon realized something.  I never quit.  Quitting is just never an option in my vocabulary.  When struck with what appears to be an impossible situation, you must keep going.

In sales contexts the same lessons apply: you pull your resources and re-tell the story in a way which will resonate with your customers.  It is our job to know what our customer’s business initiatives are, understand their pain points and have conversations with them.  When you present your business case, with their needs in mind and your solutions in hand – I bet you get to the end of the trail a whole lot quicker.



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