Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 19, 2012

A Critical Lesson in Relationship Selling From Mr. B.J.

Mr. B.J. (that’s him in the photo) is one of the best sellers I’ve ever seen in action.  In fact, I’ve discussed how he and his sister Chloe sell and produce an incredible close ratio.  But just as Mr. B.J. is an exceptional seller and can teach us a great deal about selling, he can teach us one of the primary lessons about relationship building.

In my years as a sales leader and trainer I’ve had the opportunity to go on thousands of sales calls with sellers.  During these calls I’ve observed how the sellers interact with their prospect, their questioning and presentation style, and how they handle objections and difficult questions.  I’ve also noticed how they deal with the other people they encounter during these calls.

It often isn’t pretty. 

When we sellers encounter people such as receptionists, personal assistants, non-decision makers attending the sales meeting, and others that we tend to think of as ancellary during our sales calls, we often have a tendency to give them slight attention, or, worse, completely ignore them without giving the slightest thought to what message that is sending to them or how that impacts their view of us.  Our attention is fixed upon the prize, not on the potted plants sitting at the reception desk or to the side of the decision maker.

So, back to Mr. B.J.

When anyone—friend, family, stranger, or Debbie and I when we get home from being gone from the house—enters our home, they are greeted by our three dogs.  Although all three dogs are excited, Lola and Chloe are willing to be ignored if you choose to ignore them. 

Not so with B.J. 

If you come into our house Mr. B.J. demands that you look at him, speak to him, and bend down and pet him.  He only demands a few seconds of your time, but you will acknowledge and greet him or you’ll pay the consequences.

And what are the consequences?

If you choose to ignore him he will follow you around the house, hopping on your leg and barking at you until you acknowledge him. 

I’ve seen—and heard—him demanding to be paid attention to for up to 15 minutes straight. 

He wants to be a part of the action. 

He demands to be acknowledged. 

Unlike Chloe and Lola who will accept being ignored, B.J. won’t let you get away with it.

All of our family and friends have learned to greet B.J. at the door just as they greet Debbie or I.

But even though Lola and Chloe accept being ignored, they get even more excited and get a great deal of pleasure when acknowledged and greeted.  If you choose to ignore them they’ll slink off, feelings hurt.

What does Mr. B.J. have to do with relationships and selling?

If being acknowledged and greeted is that important to a dog, what can we conclude about the human beings we encounter?  Do we think they are less aware of how we treat them than Mr. B.J. is?  Hardly.

Stop thinking of the non-decision makers you meet as obstacles or potted plants to be ignored, and realize that not only do they have feelings but that they influence the very people you’re trying to influence–and they just might have a lot more influence with those people than you do.

Take a lesson from Mr. B.J.—people want to be acknowledged and greeted.  Most won’t be like B.J. and demand that you acknowledge them, instead most will be like Lola and Chloe and go away without ever letting you know that you blew it, but they just might let the decision make know what they think of you.

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  1. Ah, Dachshunds. Cool dogs, and great sellers and teachers. Always good to hear about the exploits of Mr. B.J and his ladies. Doc is snoring on the couch, as I type.

    Comment by Mike Kunkle — October 19, 2012 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

  2. I have my own Miss B.J. at home, with 2 little wall flowers as well. Sales people are truly amiss if they think the wall flowers don’t influence or make the actual decision themselves. My boss just approves or not for the matter. Smile, acknowledge and seek out those valuable wall flowers.

    Comment by Suzanne — October 19, 2012 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

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