Here’s all you have to do…

Some years ago I was at the Texas State Fair with my young son, and we came across a simple-looking game where I thought I could win him a toy.  There was a low table in the middle of a fenced-off square and it had on it a number of Corona long-neck beer bottles, all lying on their side.  The contestant pays one dollar and is given a small “fishing pole” with a plastic ring at the end of the fishing line. 

 “All you have to do,” announced the carny, “is slip this ring around the neck of the bottle and lift it so the bottle stands upright, like this.”  And with that he put the bottle straight up on its base.  “Here, I’ll do it again,” he said, and he did so quite easily. He continued his sales pitch while uprighting bottle after bottle, and it did indeed look easy.

Several dollars and no righted bottle later, I realized this trick wasn’t as easy as it looked and disappointed, we walked off to find another game.

Since then I’ve come across a number of challenges in life that are positioned as “all you have to do.”  One I enjoyed recently was a letter I got from my broker touting the stock of Wells Fargo as a great buy. 

Why is Wells doing so great?  The analyst stated, “Wells Fargo customers have 5 to 6 products versus the industry average of 2 or 3.  This is based on Wells’ consistent focus on recommending complementary products to its customers, which we believe is Wells’ main competitive advantage.”

Can you believe it?  Wells has a huge advantage because it recommends complementary products to its customers.  Wow! I never heard of any other bank doing that.  I’m sure that Wells’ sales management process, CRM system, market planning, incentive plan and quality training programs have absolutely nothing to do with their success. 

So what all you other bankers can learn here is that all you have to do to be as successful as Wells is start recommending complementary products to your customers. It’s as easy as that.

Clearly it isn’t simple at all.  In fact, be wary of those who suggest plans that sound like, “here’s all we have to do.” 

I had this happen to me a few years ago with a bank in upstate New York.  They bought a list of area businesses, and thought that all they had to do was put their Business Banking group to work, calling and introducing themselves, and then asking for appointments.  But they wouldn’t invest in training the bankers on how to make a phone call, how to ask for an appointment, how to follow-up, and how to coach the process and measure success, nor did they have a reward system in place.

 Why?  Because they thought all they had to do was buy a list and start dialing.  Don’t fall into that trap when you start a project.  Get people who know how to make the beer bottle stand up.   They’ll show you how to do it.

 Did you miss me last week?

 Since the holidays started, I probably unsubscribed to 30 unwanted pieces of promotional email.  I didn’t want the subscribers to my blog to see my posts as intrusions during your time off, so I gave you a break during Thanksgiving week and also took one myself. I hope you enjoyed the time with your family and friends, as I did.  I’ll also take a break in the second half of December, then resume in January.

 Think Like Your Customer!

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

2 Responses to Here’s all you have to do…

  1. Gregory,

    As always a fantastic post. One that is so simple but yet so elegant. Thank you. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Best wishes.

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