EP50: Scarcity, Abundance, and the Biggest Sin in Sales
The pandemic has certainly shown the general public that scarcity or abundance of products can have an effect on people’s emotions. Scarcity increases desire — whether you desperately need the product or not. Abundance decreases desire, because there’s plenty of what you might need in the future. This is true for the sales process too. When you know that you’re going to have another conversation with a prospect, then you can relax during the initial conversation. The tension will disappear from your voice, because you’re not pushing for the sale: you know you have another chance at a future date, and you can relax while you gather information and begin establishing trust with your prospect. There’s no need to hang on and desperately keep the call going; you set up an appointment for the next conversation, and then you end the call. In other words, you “make yourself scarce.” And right there, you’ve introduced the element of scarcity to your prospect’s emotions and, in doing so, increased their desire for more information about what your company offers.
Join Chris and Susan Finch of Funnel Radio as they explore this yin-yang of scarcity and abundance, and then let you in on the biggest sin in sales. You won’t want to miss this!
This episode of Market Dominance Guys is brought to you by ConnectAndSell
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The complete transcript of this episode is below:
Susan Finch (00:22):
Hey everybody, you don't usually see me here. I'm Susan Finch. I'm usually the host on a couple of other shows, but I also help produce the Market Dominance Guys. And Chris Beall And I had this wonderful conversation that we did not hit the recording button on, about scarcity and abundance. And he said, "Hey, let's just make this into a podcast." So we're going to get going here. And we're going to be talking about scarcity and abundance and how it affects demand for what we offer in products and services. Now we know that scarcity falls into three distinctive categories, demand-induced, supply-induced, and structural. And demand-induced scarcity happens when the demand of a resource increases and the supply stays the same. And I think it's one of the most common versions of scarcity that we deal with in sales. And, Chris, I ain't even going to even ask you to talk about when it's totally manufactured, wholly unnecessary, because you told me that whiskey story yesterday, and we're going to dive into that. So, Chris Beall, enlightened us. Let's have this conversation.
Chris Beall (01:42):
Well, nothing is more enlightening than talking scarcity and whiskey at the same time. I bet there's a lot of folks who can relate to that at this very minute. And they're probably thinking, "I'm feeling a little scarcity on the whiskey front right now." And that story by the way, it is an example of brilliantly manufactured scarcity. I think everybody in sales, at the margin manufactures a little bit of scarcity, either you're busy and you can't meet with somebody. All the really good sellers are always busy, and they're busy, whether they're busy or not busy, right? Because folks feel better, quite frankly, when they feel like they're getting something that not everybody is getting. And so scarcity is correlated positively with desirability. And at the margin, of course, we all have got to use little clues in the environment to tell us what's desirable.
We may have calculated or thought through our situation. And we said, "Well, we really need a product that does X, Y, and Z. It's got to have this feature and this capabilities, performance characteristics and this cost." But really what we do is we go, "Well, wait a minute. You mean I can't have that one? I want that." I mean, that's actually what we do on the inside. And we do it all the time. We do it all the time in life. By the way, the whiskey story is about the Blanton's and it's for bourbon drinkers, for people who care about this. And what they've done is super smart. So every bottle of the Blanton's... They're these attractively-shaped bulbous bottles, they come in a bag, but it's not like a fru-fru bag, it's just a bag that looks nice.
And the cork is attached to a little figurine of a horse, and a jockey riding the horse. And when you first see it, it's just a horse and jockey. And then you look more closely and you see two things. One is, if you get a second bottle, the horse might be in a different position, one horses at a trot or a walk, and one of them's at a dead run, tail straight out behind it. And the jockey is in different positions, either sitting up a little bit or down the homestretch, head along the neck of the horse, whip hand up. So you can tell, I used to go to a lot of horse races when I was young. And so, they have these eight different horses because Blanton's... Oh, each one has a letter, B, L, A, N, T, O, N, S, eight letters with the N repeated of course.
So you get a bottle and you go, "Oh, I got the T. Well, you mean I could get all of them?" Immediately they're a scarcity because the other letters are more scarce. And when you're finally down to just one letter left, it's really scarce. And you scour the stores for this thing that, by the way, isn't usually there because they've also made it rare by not shipping very much. As a result of this, not only do they get us addicted to shopping for Blanton's, you don't have to be addicted to the damn Blanton's, you're just addicted to shopping for the stuff because you want it because you can't have it, even though there's a bottle of it right there, "That's fine. I have to buy it." I can't see the letter on it before I buy it. They put it intelligently in a box to make that information scarce and valuable.
And it's always behind lock and key. So you can't just go route it out of the box. They'll never sell you another bottle at the store if you do that. So you keep buying, and when you finally, it's like, "I've got them all, but one." You're going to have to buy eight on average to get one, whereas at the beginning you bought one to get one. So the scarcity naturally mathematically increases over time. And there you are, you become addicted to shopping. It's an example. I guess people talk about an abundance mindset as a good thing. And they're right. It is a good thing because it relaxes us in sales. When we know that we're going to have another conversation, we relax on this conversation. And being relaxed allows us to be more approachable. And when we're more approachable, we can build trust.
And we don't have that tightness in our voice that makes people think, "Oh, he's trying to do something to me." So in a mindset, as Gerhard Schwertner always says, is what makes sales really work. And the number one thing that makes sales not work as wanting the deal. As a salesperson, if you want the deal, you will generally fail. So salespeople, unfortunately, we incentivize them to want the deal, we tell them, "We'll pay you for the deal." There's a lot of luck and sales, especially toward the top of the funnel, there should be. That is, we can't know everything until we talk to somebody to learn something. And one of the things we're most likely going to learn is they don't need what we're offering. That's the standard outcome of a conversation, otherwise your market would be everybody.
And that's a dream that will never come true. Here we are incentivizing salespeople to put their fingers around the neck of the prospect and hold them tight because, "I really want this deal, whether the prospect needs my product or not." We do well in sales when we create an abundance mindset within ourselves, but a scarcity fact about us and our product. And it's that fine line that the great salespeople walk, where they're not very available, but they sure are relaxed.
Susan Finch (07:13):
I had an interesting experience, you and I, when we visited the other day, I mentioned that I had had an art gallery in Laguna Beach. And so, we sold fine art and paintings and one-of-a-kind things, which there's nothing more scarce than one-of-a-kind, other than one-of-a-kind not for sale. And we would also sell limited edition prints. And what's more limited than a limited edition is the artist's proof, which they're usually two or three of and that's it. And so, we would constantly go back to the same list and constantly say, "Oh, it's your one chance." And we would kill it. We would sell out of the entire edition before it was even on the press because people wanted, they didn't want to miss out. They wanted to say they had it. Or they had a certain number, "I want number seven. I want number one. I want number 45 because that's how old I am this year."
Whatever the reason, we would make it as scarce as possible for them to create that must-have, that very specific one thing, even though I had 500 others I could sell, the one that they wanted, that we created that they would want, they had to have.
Chris Beall (08:19):
Yes. And I'm going to jump onto one thing, which is sales. When you have a first conversation with somebody, you must be looking to end that conversation, because that makes you scarce. You become that limited edition. And if you're looking to extend the conversation forever, you're making yourself not scarce. You're saying, "I'm not very valuable. I have all the time in the world to talk to you." So that's an issue, especially for first conversations, because first impressions are very lasting. So when we teach people how to have a cold call that's effective, we teach them to say something, allow the other person to say something. We teach them to say, "I know I'm an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?" And then when they're told, "Yeah, go ahead," they don't say very much, and they end it.
It's like we would say, "I believe we've discovered a breakthrough that completely eliminates the waste and the frustration that keeps your best sales reps from being effective on the phone or even using the phone at all. And the reason I reached out to you today is to get 15 minutes on your calendar to share this breakthrough with you. Do you happen to have your calendar available?" That's the last thing you say. And when they come back and say, "Tell me more," you make yourself scarce. You say, "You know, we've learned the hard way that an ambush conversation like this isn't a fair setting to talk about something this important. Are you a morning person? How's your Wednesday?" So that's scarcity that's being created right there, that's the O that you can't get in the Blanton's unless you buy another bottle, that's it right there.
Susan Finch (10:05):
You're turning something upside down as usual. Old ways of thinking, as usual, people were taught and we were taught to be polite. And you keep talking and you keep the conversation going and you keep dragging blah, blah, blah, and that's what it becomes, but you are just stabbing that and flipping it up and saying, "No."
Chris Beall (10:23):
Oh yeah, the pancake sizzles better on the side that's still wet. So you want to flip that sucker over so it starts cooking and making some noise. I always liked that image. I used to do a little short-order cooking when I was younger. There are few things more satisfying than the sound of that flipped pancake right when it hits the griddle. And really, we want to do that in sales. We want to flip the pancake over, stop just doing it on one side, take it over to the wet side, then let it do its thing over there. And when you're around great salespeople, you realize they're not just treating their time as precious because they're going to do something with it, they're treating themselves as precious as a resource, as a scarce and precious resource. And that mindset that I have an abundance of something that should be made scarce so that people will value it, that's where almost everybody in sales gets trapped.
They want to believe that they have an abundance of value, but they don't really believe it. And then they're told not to just, what do they call it? Spill their candy in the lobby or whatever they're told, but just this one time, it would feel so good just to spit it all out. Sales is hard because very little of what we do in sales as professionals is naturally intuitive. And for those for whom is, they're mystified that other people can't sell. It's like, "What do you mean? This is the easiest thing in the world," but that's because those people have the ability to see directly into somebody else's mind. So they're not confused by all the signals on the outside, they're seeing right in there. And they don't want to move forward most of the time because they know it's not good. Again, the scarcity runs the other way, right? The great prospect is fundamentally scarce as a fact of the world, let's discover who's a great prospect as fast as we can.
Susan Finch (12:26):
So many people want to have visits, the random ones, you're always talking about all the sales deals that you got, the meetings that you got and things in a bar, sitting next to somebody, random conversations with people. I have them when I go camping, random conversations, and suddenly I'm learning about things that I never knew about. And suddenly I'm identifying a prospect, which is stunning to me in that setting. People have a hard time of knowing when to stop talking, even in those casual situations, not even such a formal thing as the call.
Chris Beall (12:58):
Yeah. And one of the ways to handle that by the way, is to change the topic. So you're allowed to continue to talk, but you're no longer within that topic. And that's very safe. So, if you're at a bar with somebody and you've met them, you don't want to just walk away, but you also don't want to go too far down the road, whatever it is that you might do for them if there's something to do. Sometimes it's easy. Like I was pulled over by some sheriff's deputies when I was moving from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Reno. And as you probably know from talking to me, that move was strenuous to put it mildly. It required seven trips across the mountains because of the house that I was coming out of, which was a geodesic dome at the top of a road that was more than a quarter mile long and had two hairpins in and a cliff.
So trucks couldn't go up and down, I traveled all the time. It had to be done piecemeal. You couldn't even get a PODS up there. So, it was done with U-Boxes and a Ford Excursion, and that's it. And I had a trailer, an open trailer. I finally got it through my thick head that perhaps renting a trailer in Reno for the day and taking it over, loading stuff up and bringing it back for $19 was better than going one way for 200. Sometimes I'm not that smart. So the very last trip I've got the trailer and I've got the Excursion loaded to the gills, and the excursion doesn't exactly have what you would call a current license plate on it because it hadn't been driven for a couple of years. So I thought eventually I might get pulled over. Well, I did. Now the cops surrounded the vehicle, there were two cars, they had guns, real guns, long ones that fire really fast.
And they wanted to make sure that I wasn't what I looked like, which is some bad guy with tinted windows in a big car and a mysterious trailer going from A to B. So I had a nice conversation with them, I kept my hands on the wheel. Oh, by the way, the driver's side door of this car doesn't open. So it has that issue also. And I had a nice conversation with them. And here's the in the bar point, at least I didn't have to worry about finishing the conversation because they wanted to get on their way, but I did manage to interest one of the officers in his brother looking at ConnectAndSell for his business. So that's an example. That's abundance thinking, right? I thought, "This is fun. Here's some guys doing their job. They're not going to shoot me very much, I don't think. And they're not going to..."
Certainly I'm leaving California and it's only 25 miles to the border. So the path of least resistance is, "Let that guy go." But what can we do with the situation by backing up? And I think we should all do this often, but we'd get in a situation that's different, unfamiliar, maybe a little tight in some way, and we tend to think, "I need to approach the situation and deal with it."
Chris Beall (16:51):
But the most powerful thing to do is to step back from the situation and contextualize it. In context, was anything bad going to happen? No. It was going to cost me 15 minutes of my life. I show them some documents. I tell them the truth, but what else could have happened? Never know, everybody's connected to somebody. So they wanted to know what I do for a living, I told them what I do for a living. Next thing you know, there's the brother. We didn't close the deal by the way, but it was at least somebody to talk with. Well, that's the other thing, I think you need to really believe in the potential value of a further exploration of the meeting as we call it, with the human being that you're talking with, even in the case where there actually will be no business, ever.
And I think the true key to sales is, our funnels are shaped like funnels for a reason, there's more at the top, abundance, there's less at the bottom, scarcity, that's the high value prospect that we're actually engaged with. There's another funnel over here, which is the one that we're not sending anything through. Think of it as the phantom funnel, through which we are rejecting folks that we should have been having further conversations with because we failed to engage them. That's the funnel that we worked for our competitor. Our fiercest competitor accepts our gifts of all the people that we screwed up with that would have made great prospects, and they accept them gratefully. And again, don't even talk to us about them, right?
Susan Finch (18:23):
Chris Beall (18:24):
They don't come back and thank us, but they're in business because of us, because we blow it at the top of the funnel and let one out that should have stayed in, but we also keep too many in that should've gone out. Funnel is too much like this and not enough like that, right? But at the top, there's this abundance of people to talk to. And what we want to do is get to the right ones that are scarce, but we want to do it in a way that doesn't screw it up. So we have to have value for them to go down the funnel. We tend to think of it as value for us like, "It's closer to a deal." Well, the way to get away from that in our heads and get an abundance mindset is to say, "There is no deal." Let's consider the case where there's never going to be a deal, would it make sense for this person to have a meeting with me and learn something, or have a meeting with my experts and learn something?
If the answer is yes, we have to forget about the deal. And it's so hard to forget about the deal. We did a whole episode on it with the dog, the chain-link fence, and the piece of meat. The dog wants to go through the fence to get the meat, and the gate's sitting right over there, 10 feet to the right. This is in our heads, we get here, instead of backing up and seeing the whole picture and then asking the fundamental question which is, "What in this situation would be good for this other person that I can provide, that I have an abundance of?" And when we're the seller, we have an abundance of information and expertise, so let's offer that.
Susan Finch (20:00):
I think that's something that is so underrated. I talk about this when I talk about how do you make your guests look good on a podcast. You and I have talked about this. When we help people look better to their peers, look better to their own prospects because they have information, knowledge and confidence on a topic, we've given them a gift. And they will remember that. And even if they don't need us, they trust us now because we made them look good, and they are willing to say, "Hey friend, I know this guy that has this product, not for us, but it'd be a perfect match for you because they are great to deal with."
Chris Beall (20:40):
Yes. And the flip is that the emotion we all remember from childhood the most is embarrassment.
Susan Finch (20:46):
Chris Beall (20:47):
We never forget it, and we never forgive it. And it is the unforgivable sin in businesses to embarrass somebody in front of their peers. And it's done all the time, but Jan Blunt always says that whoever maintains their emotional control the longest ends up winning in sales. And it's a breakdown of emotional control I believe that causes us to embarrass somebody else, especially in front of somebody else. We signal that we're not going to do this when we say something embarrassing about ourselves, that's actually a strong signal that we will not embarrass somebody else. And that's why it's a great idea, early in any conversation, to go ahead and make a little fun of yourself, whether it was the fact that you're a little late for the meeting or whatever it is, your coffee's cold, your hair doesn't look good, you're on the outs with your mom because you did whatever, whatever it is.
If you throw yourself under the embarrassment bus a little bit early, you're strongly signaling, "I will not embarrass you on purpose. I'm adopting this position of being the first to be embarrassed. And I've taken care of that. Now we're done with that subject." And then if the other person trusts you, they will say something that would have otherwise been embarrassing about themselves. And that's the surest sign of trust from another person, is when they express vulnerability through the most tender of emotions. I mean tender like a blister, not tender like, "I feel so good in my heart." The tenderest emotion is the one that hurts the most, and embarrassment is the one that hurts the most.
Susan Finch (22:30):
It does. I really hadn't thought about that much, but my most painful memories with relationships, that's what it always is about.
Chris Beall (22:38):
Yeah. We never forget them.
Susan Finch (22:40):
You don't. And you're right though, don't forgive. I can say, "Yes, I forgive you for that." Or most of the time though, I don't even address it, because I don't want to keep talking about that because I can't believe he did that to me.
Chris Beall (22:53):
Yes. The elephant in the room that people talk about is always the elephant in the room because of its potential for embarrassment. That's just why it is. Among strangers, it's very tricky because what we're doing is, in sales, we're always starting as strangers. And now we're making a decision, which is, "Am I going to trust this person with my feelings about myself? That's really what I'm going to do at some point." That's the trust. When we talk about trust, we're not really talking about, "I'm going to trust this person not to screw up my career." We pretty much think that we can defend ourselves there reasonably well. Now that's what we're afraid of, that's the death at the end of the long march is our career is ruined, but that's not really what we're concerned about. What we're concerned about is more immediate, which is, "Am I going to be treated with respect?"
That's the key. And since we as the buyer are not the expert, the seller is in a great position to not respect us. That asymmetry is where sales starts. So how does the seller manage to climb down from that pedestal without giving up their expertise? And that's the delicacy of sales, is being able to do it. The best way to do it, I think, is leave yourself professionally up there on the pedestal and take yourself somewhere else personally, because we all have peccadilloes, we all have failings, we all know what they are, and we may as well have a little fun with them.
Susan Finch (24:26):
I find it almost freeing and powerful, because the more we share that... We all have a box of those that we can whip out when we want to. When we want to be vulnerable, we all have them and we just have to choose which one fits the situation best. But I also find though, there's actually a healing thing that happens with that. The more I do it, the more I can laugh at it constantly, and enjoy watching somebody else laugh at that in me. And it actually brings me more joy than it did the pain, and it undoes a lot of that.
Chris Beall (25:00):
Yeah. And having that box is so critical. And you get that through experience and legitimate self-examination. Like legitimate self-examination, salespeople are encouraged, never to look inside themselves for something that's imperfect unless they intend to fix it. And yet, it's the ones you don't fix that are going to do the most good. And when you can talk about them and laugh about them and be that person that someone is comfortable with quickly, and you can tell. I had a conversation today with somebody that I found to be the smartest, most sophisticated people that I've talked to in a long time. But what he said very early is, he told me something very early, two or three minutes in, which was reasonably sensitive and private. And then he stopped himself and he said, "You're just really easy to talk to." Well, the reason for that is I'm sure... I can't even remember what it is, I can go back to the recording.
I hope that I said something both true and vulnerable, because if you start there, you are actually saying, "It's okay for us to be ourselves. And until we're ourselves, how are we going to explore the dangerous territory called the business-to-business transaction?" It's so dangerous. It's such a bomb that's ready to go off. It's like, "How do we get there? How do we approach it? What is the carpet that we can put down that keeps the landmine from going off under our feet?" And I think it's vulnerability that leads to trust, [crosstalk 00:26:34] of sincere expressions of vulnerability. And it's taught to some degree, but man, it's hard to do if you have a feeling of abundance inside.
Susan Finch (26:45):
In the concert, Tina goes around the edges, and you're just trying to protect yourself and protect everything that you have and hold dear and are afraid of losing, that you never had in the first place.
Chris Beall (26:55):
Right. In fact, you're compromising it by trying to protect it.
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