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The Toughest Mental Chess Game of Your Life

How business is like a game of chess and the best ways to win…

A lot of people fear sales. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that today’s society is less social than it used to be (topic for another day). It’s almost like people will do anything and everything so that they don’t have to socialize with other humans. I think that may be the reason online shopping is so popular these days. It’s funny how people prefer online because in my opinion you should fear online! Just think of how relentless the internet/social media is in trying to sell you. It just goes to show you that Everything Always Reverts Back to Sales!

There are many reasons to love the sales profession. One of my favorites is the THRILL! It’s so invigorating to close a sale. If you’ve never done sales, you need to put it on your bucket list. The most satisfying deals are the ones where you overcome objection after objection. You get so much satisfaction because it feels like you won a mental death-match… only with less blood… and no one dies. Well, you get the point.

The Chess Match

I always say that sales is like the greatest mental chess game of your life. So much of sales is psychology. The client is your opponent and you have to take out the king (decision maker). Once you do that you get the deal. It’s so true though!

Sales is all done with your mouth and mostly your brain. Your clients have a powerful brain of their own. They won’t go down without a fight (most times). You may encounter a customer that’s on the offensive where you have to counter with some defense and vice versa. I consider the client’s objections their move. That’s when I spring into action with my rebuttal. It’s a pretty simple concept once you think about it. I know that if I don’t get the deal done, then the client has won that battle. I’m so competitive that I hate when this happens… and boy does it happen often in sales!

Solve the Problem, Get the Sale

I’m an advocate of always coming up with a solution to a problem, no matter how silly the solution is. You wouldn’t just return a move in a chess game and give up, would you? Then you should never do so with a sale! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen salespeople not even try to overcome the problem (objection). It literally baffles me. You should always try to overcome the problem by giving the client a solution. The more creative you are with these the more effective you’ll become.

Solution based selling is the most effective form of selling. Solving a problem is essentially why people buy. So if you know that, why would you ever not try to solve the problem?! It’s your highest success rate! If you don’t try to solve the problems it’s like you’re playing the chess game with only pawns… you’ll never win! When I told my team about this concept it almost made their brains explode. They thought I was a mad scientist or something. Here are some examples of what I told them I’ve said to clients and you may see why. I worked in the furniture business so all these examples will be related to furniture:

***Fun Fact- Two of these four solutions actually closed a client! Can you guess which ones? (ANSWER AT THE END)***

  1. I had a client that loved a certain table and asked if it came in a dining height (instead of counter height). I replied no, but they kept going back to the table. They did not like anything else that I could sell them and when they went back to the table the final time I let them know I had the perfect solution for them! “If you just saw off 6″ on each leg it would be your perfect table!”
  2. We used sell room packages that weren’t allowed to be broken up. They had a sofa, loveseat, accent tables, rugs, and lamps. I had a client once that only wanted the sofa from the room package. I let them know “if you purchase the entire set you can sell the loveseat, table set, rug, and lamps on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist!”
  3. There was a client that was interested in a living room set and they hit me with the good ole “spouse objection.” I responded to the client “Well (name), it seems like we have one of two options then. You can either divorce your husband or kill him off… which one would you prefer?” For more on the option close check out this post here.
  4. My personal favorite is there was a client that was interested in our most expensive leather sectional. They said the sectional was going at the top of their stairs. At the top, there was a railing overlooking their family room. They told me they wanted to purchase this sectional; however, they were worried their kids would run and jump on the couch and fall over the railing and die. I thought to myself wouldn’t they have this issue with any couch they put up there? And why?! Anyway I looked them in the eye and said “(name) I completely understand how you feel, many of my clients have had this same issue, however, what we have found is if you purchase a room divider and put it behind the couch it prevents them from jumping over the railing to their death!” No clue how I thought of that one but I can guarantee one thing… if I didn’t practice these crazy solutions then I wouldn’t have thought of this. If you want to know more about the feel, felt, found close check it out here.

Best Ways to Win the Game

When my team tried these out and found some successes with these tactics, I went from a mad scientist to Albert Einstein! None of these would have worked if I didn’t incorporate some humor into the equation. People love to laugh. Using humor while you sell is extremely effective.

There’s one very important reason that you should practice this and that’s to KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP. I found that when I held myself accountable with this tactic everything was so smooth. I just overcome objection after objection until the clients’ have no more moves. Now you can’t close everyone. I know it’s a sad truth…

This prepares you more for those clients that are closable. The other reason is that you should never give up. You’ll probably hear this from me a lot. This is such a vital ingredient to becoming successful. You should never walk away from a situation by giving up completely. If you never take a swing of the bat you’re guaranteed to never hit a home run.

Finally, the masters at chess are gifted at one very important thing. They anticipate their opponents' next move. It’s almost like they see the future. I admire this. The greats know exactly what their opponents will do. Since they know this, they’re more prepared at handling it. It’s just like that one saying ‘luck is where preparation meets opportunity.’ If you want to dominate at anything you need to anticipate what is going to happen next. Easier said than done but not impossible! The only way you can do this is with preparation.

The Answer

While all these were real answers only #2 (1.5k sale) and #4 (4.3k sale) resulted in sales. Never underestimate what your clients will and won’t do. For the love of all the sales, gods don’t answer things for your clients! Give them the solution and let them be the ones to shoot you down. Get creative. Give solutions. Get crazy. Use humor. Have fun with it. NEVER GIVE UP!

If you liked this post, check out some of my best work with the 5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned from Business.

Be great,

Cody Cameron

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 376,225 people.

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