Blog | Entrepreneurship

When People Are in the Way of Your Sale

Do you struggle getting past the guard dogs protecting your sales? Discover the different types of middle-men protecting your sale… and how to deal with them.

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You’re on your way to your next appointment. You’re completely prepared for your presentation to the owner. You should feel prepared, after all, you’ve spent months learning everything you can about her business. After numerous attempts, you’ve finally nailed down a small time frame around lunch to grab her attention.

Upon arriving you’re encountered by one of two guardians. We’re going to discuss them both below.

The Rottweiler

There’s a scene in Lethal Weapon 3 that’s appropriate when discussing sales in business. In the movie, Mel Gibson’s character, Martin Riggs, has broken into the home of someone he’s investigating. Shortly after entering, he’s confronted with a vicious guard dog. A Rottweiler to be precise.

Riggs needs to get past the dog. He realizes he has two options. One, he can shoot the dog. Riggs doesn’t have problem shooting people but draws the line at shooting dogs. (I’m sure you can sometimes relate.) Or two, he can try to connect with the dog, earn his trust and then continue on past the dog.

In order to do so, he has to get the dog’s guard down. To befriend the unfriendly foe, he got down on the floor, rolled his eyes and started whimpering and whining like a puppy. Within a few seconds he was rolling around with his new BFF, lapping his face and nuzzling their necks.

What happened?

A minute earlier, he was in danger of being torn limb from limb. Now? He’s got a canine friend for life.

In business, you probably won’t have to encounter too many guard dogs to get the sale. But you will have to confront everyone from the receptionist that greets you at the front door to the president’s personal secretary. Be friendly, humble and approachable and never patronize the gatekeepers.

I know, I know. If you’ve ever participated in any type of sales training you were told, “Don’t waste time with anyone but the decision maker.”


At any given moment, you could very well be speaking with the decision maker. What you say and how you say will determine who — if anyone — they direct you to. It’s entirely possible it’s not the owner or president who signs the checks anyway. You might need to speak with someone at a director level like the CMO, CFO or director of human resources.

It’s never a waste of time to build rapport.

Most people don’t give secretaries, security guards and receptionists the time of day. They simply view them as another obstacle to get through on the way to another sale.

This is a mistake.

Start a little chit-chat to pass the time. It takes very little effort to ask them how their day is going or compliment them on their glasses. When all else fails, bring up the weather. Relate to them, just like Martin Riggs did, and you’ll see that they are not scary at all, just regular people doing their jobs.

The Chihuahua

With rise of social media, everyone matters, all the time. You need to be as personable as you can be, unlike another breed of dog, the chihuahua.

Sure, they might look cute and cuddly… until they notice you, realize they don’t know you and then begin the onslaught of yips and barks.

Though their bark is far greater than their bite, it can be so annoying that the only way to get them to stop is to leave.

It’s not their fault, it’s simply how they’re made. But either way, you’re not getting past them so stop wasting your time.

Don’t lose heart, though. As you know, sales is a numbers game. The key is to know when to push through and when to cut your losses, regroup, learn from the encounter and move on to the next plan of attack.

Have I piqued your interest yet? If so, check out my book Sales Dogs and discover how to get explosive sales growth for your business by understanding what type of sales-dog you are.

Original publish date: September 20, 2018

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