I learned a sales technique at a young age, one that I have perfected over the years. Here’s the technique in a nutshell: make sure everyone wins. It works wonders and allows me to gain advantage at all sorts of opportunities in life.
See, I’m sort of a whipper-snapper when it comes to convincing other organizations to work with me. This goes for running tournaments, convincing top-level coaches to join my program, and finding venues for camps. I don’t consider these all that difficult to do, largely because of the principle I apply. Allow me to explain.
My friend Scott York, president of the league my kids compete in, credited me with “great negotiation skills” when I secured Focus on the Family as the home of the national tournament last year. I wore that compliment with pride.
Here’s how I did it. I very much wanted the facility. Focus on the Family was great for speech and debate, and the location was perfect. Focus had empty space because of cutbacks on staff, so it made sense to them to allow us in. Besides, the league was primarily home-school families, very much part of their audience.
I won: I secured a fabulous facility in a great location with a reputable organization.
They won: Focus got to connect with a major demographic and utilize their buildings.
I sometimes wonder why others don’t harness this principle, make sure everyone wins. If the national tournament would have been bad for Focus, I would not have pursued it. While it may sound overly simple, I’m convinced many sales are lost because the salesman is not concerned with making sure his or her customer wins.
Not only Focus as a venue, but Dr. Chris Leland as a Tournament Director. His resume surpassed anyone’s I knew of at the time—he’s forensics director at Colorado Christian University with decades of experience. I was the superintendent of the tournament, and I very much wanted Chris directing the tournament.
When convincing him it was worth his time, I made sure he understood the advantage of connecting with the audience of home-school speakers and debaters. I made sure he won in the arrangement. Honestly, I was asking him to volunteer dozens of hours of time, so I had no other choice but to make this job as appealing as possible. He agreed, and I believe we both benefited from the partnership.
I won: I got the best TD a superintendent could ask for.
He won: Dr. Leland secured access to a wonderful community good for his college.
In fact, the 1st place Lincoln-Douglas award winner ended up going to CCU. A super-duper win for Dr. Leland, and I was thrilled that fate brought him such a great award winning student. Thrilled for me, too. The student was an alumni of my program.
Are you getting the idea? Win-win situations are the way to go.
This happened with a camp venue I secured for our main Training Minds Camp: Point Loma Nazarene University. (See here, it’s going to be awesome!) I attended Point Loma with my debate club in January, and during my stay I had some important meetings with the department chair, faculty, event managers, and local coaches. Everyone had questions, ambitions, expectations, concerns, etc., etc. All good people who liked the idea of Training Minds coming to California, but several issues that needed to be sifted through.
In every question I answered with a persuasive pitch, largely because I always made sure everyone won. Training Minds for sure wanted to be at Point Loma, but the university needed to understand how Training Minds would serve to their advantage. Our meetings were always centered on making sure everyone got a piece of the action.
I won: Training Minds gets to have speech and debate camp on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
They won: PLNU gets to have Training Minds come in and bring their program onto their campus.
Make sense? Seems pretty simple to me. It is a salesman’s reflex in my conversations, I suppose. I’ve witnessed meetings break down when one side feels entitled, greedy or pushy. Or perhaps one side feels they are being taken advantage of. Or the other side being too presumptuous in the deal.
I think it is as simple as the salesperson losing sight of the simple rule: make sure everyone wins. If one side doesn’t, even if that side is on the other side of the table, it’s a deal to walk away from.