The Belt Story
by Tim Healy
As a Sales Performance Coach, one of my most favorite activities is being in the field doing a Ride-Along with my clients. What is a Ride-Along? Essentially, I am in the field with a sales-person and I am observing how they perform during a live prospect or client sales call.
This observation during a live call is a great way to help sales pros objectively look at what they are doing well and what skills need sharpening or maybe a complete overhaul. Not only is it a great coaching tool, it provides some great stories. One of them happens to be The Belt Story.
I was riding along with Kevin who is the District Manager in the Midwest territory of a manufacturing client. He has gained the nickname “The Machine,” because he is relentless when it comes to doing what he needs to succeed.
After our last appointment of the trip Kevin was heading back to drop me at the hotel. I realized earlier in the day that I ran out of clean shirts and I had an early flight the next morning.
Since I did not want to deal with laundry, I asked Kevin to drop me off at a local mall so I could buy a shirt for my trip home. He took me to the local Macy’s department store.
When we pulled into the parking lot Kevin said he would stay in the car since he had a few calls to make. I said, “No problem.” Then I asked him if he needed anything while I was in Macy’s. He gave me an odd look and said, “No Tim I’m good”.
Then I asked him again. “Kevin, are you sure there isn’t anything you need?” He smiled and said no again. Then he said with a laugh, “You know what Tim, I could use a belt.” I said, “Ok, what is your size?” Kevin was really confused. Was I being serious? Then he insisted he was just kidding. I said, “No Kevin really what is your size?” He said, “Ok Tim. I’m a 38.” “Great – what color?” Kevin didn’t know what to make of our exchange. He said black. All the while during this exchange I was really just having some fun.
As I was proceeding to the store I realized this is a great coaching opportunity. I decided I was going to buy Kevin the belt. So I purchased my clean new shirt for the trip home and the 38 black men’s dress belt for Kevin.
As I got back into the car Kevin was still on a client call. Once he wrapped up he asked me if I was ready to go. I said I was, but first I told him I wanted to give him his new belt. As I pulled the belt from the bag Kevin looked on in utter shock.
“Tim, are you crazy? Why the heck did you get me this belt? I wasn’t serious.”
“I know Kevin. But why do you think I bought you the belt?”
Then Kevin said, “Because I’m a nice guy?” Well you are a nice guy but no that is not why I bought you the belt. Then Kevin started to guess and guess as to why I bought him the belt. Then he gave up slightly frustrated.
I said, “Kevin, I bought you the belt because you asked for it.” Kevin continued to look at me confused. Yes, that’s right I bought Kevin the belt because he asked. And this was the coaching opportunity.
Too often sales professionals, even seasoned ones like Kevin, stop short of asking for the order. Instead, they will follow up with a call or email which is shooting yourself in the foot. It is unnecessarily extending the sales cycle.
As sales professionals we have to ask for the order each and every time, multiple times! So I again told Kevin – I bought you the belt because you asked. Now I want this belt to serve as a very effective sales tool for you.
I want this belt to be your belt of choice when going on your sales calls. As you are walking into the meeting take a moment and tap the buckle. Taping the buckle will be your physical reminder that YOU MUST ASK FOR THE SALE TODAY and EVERYDAY!