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Start strong. Finish stronger!

Start strong. Finish stronger!

Any salesperson can start a conversation with energy and enthusiasm, but it takes a pro to keep that level of engagement to the end.

Most salespeople give up the moment they encounter indifference. They assume if their prospect isn’t immediately engaged, the deal is doomed.

Big mistake.

Sales masters know that letting a prospect influence your commitment to providing value is the first step towards failure. Sales isn’t just about starting strong, it’s about finishing even stronger.

To illustrate this, here’s a story about the best waitress I ever had, and the unforgettable sales lesson she taught me.

My co-founder and I were speaking at a conference in Boston. The event went great and, as it ended, one of the attendees told us to check out this famous restaurant for dinner.

We were both starving and exhausted in a city we didn’t know, so we decided to try it out. This guy clearly knew what he was talking about; the line was out the door. It took 45 minutes, but we were finally seated.

Then we met our waitress …

The waitress and the water

This woman was incredible. She was the kind of person who took pride in her work and owned the room, and that was before she even opened her mouth. When she did, I got one of the best sales pitches I’ve ever heard:

“What kind of water would you like tonight, gentlemen? I’ve got three choices: A bottle of sparkling, ice-cold, premier San Pellegrino, a cold glass of filtered water, or … I could just get you a cup of Boston tap. What’ll it be?”

We ended up passing on the premium water, but it wasn’t easy.

There’s nothing I love more than being sold to by a good salesperson, and this woman was a pro. Or so I thought.

In her defense, we were exhausted from the conference and not as energetic as we might normally be. But because of our lack of engagement, she became less enthusiastic.

I was a little disappointed, but the dinner wasn’t over yet. I was hoping she’d showcase more of her killer salesmanship with the dessert menu.

Honestly, I didn’t want dessert. But I respect sales skill, and I wanted to see this woman crush it again, maybe even ask her some questions and learn from her.

Wait … that’s it?

The room was full of people with amazing desserts, so I knew her pitch must be good.

She approached us, opened the menu, and said, “So, you guys want dessert?”

What? That was her big pitch? I was more than a little disappointed.

I turned her down, figuring she’d at least try and sell us on another cocktail or cup of coffee.

Wrong again. Instead, she said, “Okay, I’ll bring the check.”

Start strong, finish stronger

What happened to the peppy, energetic, hard-selling waitress we’d met earlier?

I’ll tell you what happened: At some point in the evening, she noticed we weren’t totally engaged with her and assumed we weren’t interested in being sold.

Instead of trying to influence us with her enthusiasm, she let us influence her.

As a salesperson, you should always be the influencer. Energy, passion, and enthusiasm are not your prospect’s responsibility, they’re yours. You control the direction and mood of the conversation, not them.

And yes, there will be times when you can’t influence your prospects, like at the restaurant: We were so exhausted, our waitress might not have gotten a reaction from us either way. But that wasn’t an excuse to disengage.

In sales, your outlook and energy is always your responsibility.

Anyone can start strong. Our waitress certainly did. But it takes a special kind of salesperson to finish strong.

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