He Wants One . . .

Help your customers pick out what they want and show them how to take it home.

I received an e-mail from a long-time friend that really got me thinking (now that’s trouble!). Don works as a general manager for another long-time client/friend who owns multiple dealerships. What follows is our "ping-pong" back and forth that took place today over about a two-hour period. If you’ve followed my rants at all over the years, I know you’ve heard this message before.

Don was a salesperson when I first met him and a pretty decent one at that. (Okay, he wasn’t really that good, but since he’s gonna read this, I figured I’d give him a little credit.) Since then, he has gone on to become an extremely valuable member of the company he works for.

In fact, his boss told me that after our first training session, Don really began to kick butt and take names. He separated from the pack immediately, and within a year, he was offered the sales manager position at a pretty high-volume dealership. That dealership grew at about twice the rate of the national average without changing anything in terms of driving more traffic into the store. According to the boss, Don made the difference.

So here it is. I’ve removed most of the personal stuff about family and such, and the part where he gives me all the credit for making his career. I didn’t think that needs to go in there.


Hey Otis,

We bought a new store in Florida and I moved the family out here. I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but I was leading a sales meeting the other day, and something you said in a training seminar you did for us years ago became the message of the day. It is still the most powerful thing you ever said to me.

You had said it in the seminar, but later, we were standing out on the showroom floor, and I was struggling with a particular customer was when you really smacked me with it: "Don, the customer wants a bike. You and the sales manager want him to have the bike. We’re all on the same team… let’s get the guy a bike."

If you ever get down to the panhandle of Florida, look me up.


I spoke with your boss the other day, and he told me that you and your family are all fine. You’ve become a great sales manager according to what he tells me. Please help me understand, though, why that simple message of "He wants one, we want him to have one" doesn’t hit everybody with the same impact as it hit you? As soon as I can figure out how to make that the message, the whole message, and nothing but the message, we may be able to change the world!

Let me know how your world is going, Don. I’m hoping for all the best for you and your family. God bless you.


As far as the message, it really just simplified the whole process for me. Since then, I’ve approached each customer with the idea that my job was, and still is, to help them pick out what they want and show them how to take it home. They already have the desire, or they wouldn’t be in the store. I just ask them questions to steer them towards "their" motorcycle. It is the ingredient that brings the whole sales process together.

If you don’t consider the importance of the values of the customer as to their purchase, the sales process — any sales process — is just words on paper. You can show them every bike you have on sale or every great deal in the store, but if it is not what the customer wants, then it is not a great deal to the customer. Like you always say, "there’s no such thing as the right deal on the wrong bike."

When you combine the process with a strong desire to help the customer pick out what they want, you usually end up with a sale. From then on I have approached each and every deal from the customer’s perspective. As far as how to change the world, I’m not sure what to do differently because what you said to me worked!

Congratulations on your success. Keep it up.


Now I’d love to take all the credit for Don’s success. I’d even like to tell you that everyone who attended that same training seminar went on to fame and glory. But unfortunately, the truth is much more mundane than that. The truth is that Don experienced a paradigm shift that day, but not everyone else in the room did. Don went on to achieve a very high (almost abnormal) degree of success in sales, while the rest of the class went on to some pretty normal results.

Why does this message fall on deaf ears? Is it too simple? Too easy? Too explainable? Is something supposed to look like magic before we take it seriously?

And why did it resonate in Don’s ears? The truth is that many of the people that go on to great success aren’t necessarily blessed with great natural gifts. They are somehow just able to see the simplicity of the facts; they get it! The customer wants what you sell, and you want him to have what you sell…

Even when I re-read it now, it sounds too simple.

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