Help me out here. I have a “friend” who needs a little advice. You see, he lives in this very peculiar village filled with practical jokers.  

This village has ongoing competitions which are pretty basic. Each competition has a significantfinancially valuable prize that is given to whoever can simply find the prize and free it from its current possessor by proving themselves more worthy of its possession. 

Is there REALLY a prize? 

Here’s a twist on the competition though. A majority of the time, there isn’t actually a prize to be had, it’s a ruse of a competition. However, all the competitor has to do is ask if there is a legitimate prize waiting to be won and they will be given an honest answer. If there isn’t, then they can simply move on to the next competition as there are always multiple competitions taking place.   

Believe it or not, very few competitors ever validate the legitimacy of any given pursuit. 

Hidden in plain sight 

And, when the prize is legitimate, it isn’t necessarily hidden. If one of the competitors asks where the prize is located, they have to be told. And, not only will they be told of its location, they will actually be told the key to dislodging it from the current possessorIF they askOnce again, most competitors get so giddy at the opportunity to compete that they never slow down to ask the location of the prize. 

I told you, it’s a very strange place. 

I’ve seen my biggest challenge and it looks just like me 

You would think that any competition where there is a known prize and the location can be identified ahead of time would be easy right? Well, it can be, but most of the time the competitors make the challenge way more difficult than necessary. 

You see, the thing that makes this competition most challenging are the ambushes. It’s not as though the ambushes aren’t a known part of the competition though. The competitors know they are going to be ambushed, but instead of using this knowledge to their advantage, they choose to compete from a position of paranoia and fear 

Fortunately, this is never any kind of physical ambush, but it is an ambush nonetheless. Despite knowing the ambush will happen, thcompetitors never know exactly when it will happen or by whom they will be ambushed 

And, not only do the competitors know the ambushes are going to happen, they actually have a chance to avoid ambushes, or at the very least, prepare themselves to react successfully. As bizarre as it may sound, most competitors don’t take advantage of this opportunity. This happens so often, there is a name for this phenomenon, “winging it.” 

Trolls and Guardsmen 

There are two types of ambushers, Trolls and Guardsmen. Both have the same goal: to intimidate the competitor into retreat. The Trolls use riddles to challenge the competitor while the Guardsman usually just stand in intimidating silence. It’s actually a fun competition to watch. Cocky and often arrogant competitors become bumbling fools and quickly run in retreat as they encounter a Troll or Guard. 

Despite the expectation of an ambush, the competitors are startled every. single. timeRetreat is often the outcome but, even when they survive an ambush, they know more ambushes lie ahead. 

Getting past a Troll means having to successfully answer their riddle. Getting past the Guardsmen is a bit trickier as it is up to the competitor to determine how he/she will prove their worthiness to pass.  

Now, here’s the thing, there are only a handful of riddles that ever get asked by the Trolls and there are only a few “worthiness” examples that ever need to be shared with the Guardsmen. 

It’s not as though the rules or keys to success in this Village competition are unknown. 

Help me help my friend 

I told you, I am looking to give some advice to a friend, but I read somewhere that before you offer advice, you should ask questions. Here is how that Q&A with my friend went down.  

Me – Do you always ask if there is a legitimate prize? 

Friend – (With a perpetual look of confusion on his face) Um, no. 

Me – Well, do you ask where this assumed prize is located? 

Friend – (Looking more confused) No. Why waste time? I want to get started as quickly as possible. 

Me – If there are only a handful of riddles that ever get asked, have you written down your successful responses and practiced them to use for the next time it is asked? 

Friend – (In growing frustration) No, never crossed my mind actually. 

Me – What about the Guardsmen? Have you ever written down the successful things you tell them to make sure you can repeat those ideas during future competitions? 

Friend – (With the proverbial light starting to flicker) No, but that does kind of make sense. 

My friend kind of sounds like the village idiot, doesn’t he?  

Take advantage of the known rules 

As a salesperson, this is the game you play every day. Like my friend above, way too many of you make the game WAY harder than it needs to be. In sales there are certain conversations that will repeat themselves in every opportunity. Document those conversations, script out responses, and practice them. Yes, practice them, role play them and do this until you own them. 

Is there a prize? Don’t be shy about asking a prospect if there is a legitimate opportunity to win the business away from the incumbent. This may be an awkward question to ask but, if you don’t, you really are being played the fool. 

Where is the prize located? Establish the target that, when hit, will likely result in you earning the business. Again, the thought of this may make you uncomfortable. But, if there is a legitimate opportunity to earn their business, the buyer actually needs your help to validate the end game and give them a basis on which to make their decision. 

Objections These are inevitable and they are predictable. Keep a library of objections, script out your responses, and practice them so they are readily accessible the next time you need them. Because you are prepared, instead of feeling attacked and tempted to retreat, you will see nothing but opportunity. 

Examples to prepare for 

  • “We’re happy with our current broker.”   
  • “We don’t renew for another 6 months, call us back as it gets closer.”   
  • “The current broker is the owner’s brother-in-law.”  

Value statement In order to even have the chance to pursue an opportunity, you have to get a prospect’s attention. There are a handful of value statements that you need, but they must make it very clear as to why someone should want to take a meeting with you. 

Examples to prepare for: 

  • Elevator pitch 
  • Cold call script  

The game of sales is hard enough guys, don’t make it harder than it needs to bePrepare for the competition before the game starts and you will blow away your competition who are likely just showing up on game day and winging it. 

If you’re interested in being prepared as I’m suggesting, but just not sure what those conversations should sound like, just contact us and we’ll be happy to help you get started. 


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Photo by Dmitrii Shironosov