Service Professionals Can Increase Sales By Swapping the Elephant Gun for the Fly Swatter

How many times do salespeople especially those involved in services attempt to sell or employ an elephant gun for a solution (need) with the fly swatter would work perfectly fine? Too often in the quest to increase sales, companies forget about the needs of the customer and focus on their own immediate needs - filling their pocketbooks. What happens is the shotgun or what I prefer to call it the elephant gun to kill the fly approach is embraced.

Probably this approach which is born from a 100% sales based marketing approach speaks to the downfall of many companies. The first one that comes to mind is Anderson Consulting.

Sales professionals are truly authentic problem solvers who by listening and then educating help their potential qualified customers (a.k.a. prospects) This process is called education based marketing and helps to avoid the elephant gun approach to kill a fly when a fly swatter works perfectly fine. Of course, you may not earn as much dollars, however what you have done is established yourself as someone who can deliver results that are affordable, realistic and build loyal customers. Sales Coaching Tip: The sales skill of listening is 100% the most critical technical sales skill that you can have.

Through the use of sales skills such as gentle probing and in many cases open-ended questions, these salespeople can uncover the real problems and not just the symptoms disguised as problems. When the elephant gun solution is used, in many instances, it is to solve a symptom and does not address the real problem. Of course what happens is overkill or needless expenditures specific to budget, energy and time. Sales Coaching Tip: At this juncture, the sales professional is either hoping it solves the problem or does not care because she or he has been paid their commission.

Another negative outcome of this elephant gun to kill a fly approach is that it gives other service professionals within the same industry a bad reputation. How many times do we hear about insurance agents, realtors, financial advisors, business consultants, quality specialist and let us not forget business coaches, sales coaches or executive coaches who charged big bucks and did not correct the problem?

In the movie "The Patriot," Mel Gibson tells his sons to "Aim small, Miss small." This is good advice for all sales professionals. When you provide the right solution for the right problem, you will never ever need an elephant gun to kill a fly. And the best thing about this approach, other than hitting the mark (earning the sale), you will be asked backed and your name will be freely given to others.


SMB coach, sales and organizational culture authority, Leanne Hoagland-Smith is the People and Process problem solver for forward thinking leadership who want to dramatically improve their business and sales results. What this looks like differs for each SMB and why a phone call to 219.759.5601

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