Business Tip: Sell Harder

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By Jim Hinshaw

This article was prompted by my wife and me watching a great movie: Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks, Collin Ferrell, and Emma Thompson. Lots of others in the cast, but these are the main players. It is the story about how Walt Disney got the film rights to Mary Poppins from the author of the book, who lived in England. He pursued her for 20 years! Yep, 20. Not an exaggeration. She was certain he just wanted to improve his already profit-filled empire, just print some more dollar bills to add to the mouse kingdom. But Emma stays in England, not even coming over to discuss it.

What changes her mind is her agent; he lets her know she is out of money. So, to maintain her home and provide some funds to live on, she agrees to go to LA to discuss the script for the movie. She has been told she has absolute control, and plays it like she has absolute control. She was adamant that there be no animation, no cartoon characters in her movie. In fact, she wanted no red colors to be used. She is a woman who is set in her ways, not to be confused by the laws of physics or what makes sense.

The movie is not a Disney movie, it is a grown-up movie. Your 10-year-old would be bored to death. It is told using a flashback system, going back to Australia when Emma was a small girl and Collin Ferrell, as her alcoholic father, is a bank manager. We see his gradual descent into alcoholism, and the effect it has on the family. Some of those effects are played out when Disney tries to put the movie together. Of course, we see this via the flashback; Disney and his team do not. They just see a woman who is hard to deal with, uncompromising, unwill- ing to give in on any little item.

Remember I told you, Disney had spent 20 years chasing her, and now she is on his court, and still it seems like it is going to unravel. In fact, near the movie’s end, Emma finds out they are going to have dancing penguins. She is amazed that they would go to the trouble to train penguins to dance. One of the producers finally admits, they are going to use animation! She leaves town, will not sign off on the movie rights, all is lost. Or so it would seem.

Walt gets on an airplane and flies 11 hours the very next day to meet at her home, no appointment, just a big surprise. He confronts her with the idea that the problems she has with the movie are actually problems with her relationship with her pop, which have spilled over into her adult life, some 50 years later.

So he sits there, does an outstanding job analyzing her responses, and asks again for the right to produce the movie, complete with dancing penguins. It is amazing.

Here is my application. I realize 20 years is not a realistic time to follow up in our industry. But how about three years? I talk to too many sales reps who don’t follow up the next year. I have seen studies that tell me 70 precent of sales are sold after the customer has been asked five times. Five! The second con- cept is that you are never done selling. Walt realized when Emma hit his town; it was not a done deal. He never gave up! He went to extreme lengths to put the package together, flying half way across the globe. Lastly, ask more questions. Walt did his homework, found out she had changed her name, and why and where the pain was coming from. Only after doing all that, he could did he get the signature.

So my question to you is: What are you going to do different- ly this year? I just had a conversation with Eric Kjelshus, talk- ing about his goals for this year. He is looking to grow sales 25 percent; not a small number. He asked me what would be the obstacles he may find on that path to profits. I told him that I see three opportunities as I travel across the nation: (1) Not enough leads; (2) close ratio is too low; (3) gross margin is too low, not enough profits in the job.

Those are my three opportunities that are almost always present. To hear how to solve them, send $20 cash …

OK, just tune in next month, we will work on this and a bunch more. Don’t send any money! Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.

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