Getting Real Or Not Playing

Getting real involves challenging lazy thinking and penetrating fa├žades, games, defenses, fears, and illusions." ~Let's Get Real Or Let's Not Play by Mahan Khalsa

let's get real or let's not play sales book mahan khalsa

Let's Get Real Or Let's Not Play is one of my favorite sales books: I've been referring to it since first discovering it in 2010. The premise is that buyer and seller need to cut past the baloney and posturing, and get down to a real, emotional, in-depth discussion of what's truly going on and how help may (or may not) be available.

As the salesperson, you have to be completely willing to walk away. If the prospect won't admit to having a serious problem that you can fix, you politely end the conversation. If they won't open up and let you into their world, at least a little, you don't continue.

By the same token, you as the salesperson are not walking around with a hammer looking at everything as a nail. If your solution isn't the right fit for this prospect, YOU TELL THEM SO.

Yes, it takes bravery to sell this way. And getting real is totally worth it. The price of honesty and open discussions will give you much better client relationships.

The Power of Getting Real

"As trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down. As trust decreases, everything slows and costs rise." ~Mahan Khalsa, Let's Get Real Or Let's Not Play

Speed may not be a shocker here, but costs?

It's worth thinking about, isn't it: that when trust is low, costs go up. Think about implementation alone. People drag their heels. They spend time looking for other options, or trying to shoehorn their own pet solution into place in direct competition. Nobody tells anyone else what's going on, so things break. And of course there's the opportunity cost of dilly-dallying when you could go ahead and get the problem corrected.

Effective ways of gaining trust are to ask a lot of questions, and not push your solution a The One And Only. We ask the people who'd like to work with us a lot of questions. We're not sure, at the start, whether we're a fit for one another just yet. We don't want anyone and everyone to sign up.

How has trust been impacting speed and costs in your projects? Have you been getting real?

2023 Update for Getting Real With Your Prospects

A few months back as 2022 was ending, I was doing a series of (mostly) daily videos. These were a part of Wes Schaeffer's 12 Weeks to Peak sales accountability program. Doubled my income for that quarter, by the way. And during the series I chose Mahan's book as a topic. At that point I realized while I owned the book, I no longer had the audiobook version read by Mahan himself.

Now the topic of the video was "Eating your own dog food". That meant I had to do it. So I did. I went and got the hard-to-find original audio version of Let's Get Real Or Let's Not Play. It's in a nice boxed set of CDs and I'm enjoying them now. You can watch that video here:

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What Is the Best Sales Approach?

sales approach

Have you thought about your sales approach? What's the best fit for you? We all grew up with the image of selling as a fast-talking, pushy, greedy affair. Many of us never moved beyond that negative mental image. I didn't learn that a different sales approach was possible until over a dozen years had passed in my professional career.

Nowadays you can find a lot more books on selling. But back in the late 90s, the first thing I ran into was Tom Hopkins' How To Master the Art of Selling (not an affiliate link). Good book. Lots of memorization. Objections, rebuttals, tie downs. Struggles.

I saw how it worked; I saw that it worked...that approach never felt right for me, however. People tell me I'm persuasive, but I'm not pushy by nature. I try to be diplomatic. So while I used Hopkins' techniques for awhile, I never felt comfortable with them. Nor did I enjoy the situations they consistently put me into with prospects.

As a salesperson, I never felt my job was to force or tactically push a prospect into becoming a client. Unfortunately, that's what my belief in traditional features-and-benefits selling is all about. It just wasn't a fit with me.

A Different Sales Approach

Many years later, after stints in and out of sales, I realized I didn't know why I was getting some orders and not winning others. Something was clearly wrong. Finally, in desperation, I started looking around for a different sales approach than the only way I had seen all of those years. I found consultative selling.

Consultative selling involves you in the world of your prospect. You match up what they're having a problem handling with what you provide solutions for. That way, you never sell something to someone who doesn't really need it. You don't get into those arguments I've seen in car dealerships, where a very tense prospect is being bombarded by a glowering salesperson, being told they must accept the high price and the prospect pushing back that they can't afford it. Do you challenge people? Sure. But you're making sure it's a good fit for both sides all the way long. And if it's not a good fit, you end the process.

I found the softer, clearer approach of consultative selling to be a much better fit with my personality. And a great book on this way of selling is Mahan Khasla's Let's Get Real Or Let's Not Play (again not an affiliate link).

So which is the best sales approach?

Here's the awesome thing about selling: you can succeed with either approach--or any other you can find. The key is sticking with it. Learning it inside and out. Both traditional and consultative selling require learning and some memorization. Traditional selling requires you to memorize all those objections and rebuttals; consultative selling makes you learn and remain conscious of a consistent sales process.

You can't get out of the work of learning how to sell, whichever way you want to do it.

But you can find a sales approach that you feel good about using.

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