“Do you sell Tires or Nails?”

A failing tire shop placed an ad to hire a new sales representative. After receiving, assessing, & finalizing the two best applicants, the desperate owner scheduled them both into his office for a joint interview. But after the callous exchange of the usual questions & answers, the perplexed owner sought a clearer way to distinguish which of the two candidates could salvage his business from bankruptcy. So he asked the candidates to each sell something in the store to a visitor. The first candidate, naturally, picked the latest, cutting-edge tire in the shop. He then found a well-dressed window shopper and eloquently explained the details, warranty, & affordability with precision. And although the well-groomed browser didn’t purchase that day, the owner was impressed by how much of the product knowledge & technical jargon he already knew about his product. The second candidate rummaged through the remaining tires; finding one of the replaced tires with a long, rusty nail still lodged halfway within. He carried it to the next visitor & asked a simple question that led to the sale of a full 4-set of tires, an annual membership to the shop’s loyalty rewards program, & the hiring of a new sales representative:
“Could you believe that something this little could stand in the way of you getting to your family?” 
But in the end, the tire shop survived for just another year before closing; four months after their best sales rep moved on to much “greener”  financial pastures. And although the owner blamed the young sales rep’s departure for his business failing  his lenders, he never truly embraced the real problem: selling tires (features & slogans) instead of nails (needs & benefits). As a consultant for entrepreneurs & small business owners, over 90% of my clients’ financial problems were first salesmanship problems. Regardless of what’s being sold, the everyday customer is not interested in your product’s features, technical jargon, nor your company’s own aspirations of dethroning your competition. They’re only interested in the benefits your product has towards solving their own needs! So everyday, the associates at Black Tie Business Solutions challenge ourselves, our colleagues, & especially our clients who struggle in sales with a very simple question: “Do You Sell Tires…or Nails?” 

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