Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Power of the Stall - What I Learned from Burning my Eyelashes Off

I burned my eyelashes off! It happened so fast.

I was cooking on the gas stove while wearing a terry cloth robe when my left sleeve brushed across a flame and caught the sleeve on fire. To put it out I began brushing the fire with my right hand which then caught my right sleeve on fire. Realizing that was dumb, I calmly ran outside, threw my robe on the ground and watched the flames die out. Then I returned to the kitchen and finished cooking breakfast. The event was, in fact, completely uneventful. But my daughter did ask, "Mom, what's that smell?"

Later that morning, when applying mascara, I realized something wasn't right. My eyelashes weren't just extra short - they were gone. I had burned my eyelashes off. It was then I freaked out. A delayed reaction set in where I began to panic with what might have happened. My heart started to race as I went through the possible scenarios and horrific outcomes of catching myself on fire!

Thankfully I was able to stall my panic until the fire was out which helped me manage the situation better. This leads me to a concept I call the Power of the Stall. To increase sales stalling can be an important tactic. It's true that sales people want to speed up the sale and buyers tend to stall the sale. But here's how to use the Power of the Stall to jazz up your sales:

  • To make a sale you need to be a quick thinker. But sometimes in our haste to "cut a deal" we make a decision with costly ramifications. Be careful about making quick pricing decisions especially. I once sold a product below cost because I thought the customer would buy other full priced products from me. They never did.

  • Knee jerk reactions can be costly and hard to undo. When a traumatic event occurs in your business, the knee jerk reaction can be to overreact. I once worked for a company where a driver had a car accident in a company vehicle and so they took away all the company vehicles. The backlash from this was costly - valuable employees quit and went to work for the competitor and morale was the pits for years.

  • Stalling gives you a chance to think through the best way to respond. Use the excuse that you need to check with your boss or your operations manager before committing to a sale. This is a legitimate reason to stall in the customer's eyes and it will give you time to think about what is best for your business.