It’s one of the best lines from one of the best movies – if you don’t know it, here is a quick breakdown:
Ron Burgundy, the infamous Anchorman, and his ever-loyal posse of friends and co-workers are discussing love and specifically, how in-love Ron Burgundy is with his new co-anchor. They launch into a comical discussion about the true meaning of love when Rick, the less intelligent weatherman, begins talking about things that he loves. After a quick story about loving a chance encounter without a name from one of the anchors, Rick exclaims “I love carpet”, “I love desk”. Then he is called out by Ron Burgundy when he is asked if he is just looking at random objects and saying that he loves them. Then comes the infamous line “I love lamp”. They go back and forth for a moment and Rick doubles, then triples down on his love for lamp. It’s probably funnier if you watch the film itself, but there is a lesson to learn in sales.
What did we learn?
There are really two lessons here. One is asking the right questions and the other is critical listening.
Being able to think critically about a problem is really where Rick went wrong, although this was part of the comedy, it can go really badly when salespeople do not think from their prospect’s perspective. In this case, Rick and the other members of Ron’s Posse were trying to figure out what love actually was. Instead of asking the right questions, they simply went on about the times they think they have experienced love and then looked to Ron for validation.
Hearing lamp in sales
This happens way to often in sales. We have a solution that fits “Box A” and we ask questions that only fit in Box A. We say things like “if you could solve “Box A”, would your yearly outcome be more positive?”. It is natural to say if you are trying to push something, but very difficult to understand from the prospect’s perspective. It would be much more helpful to ask the right question, even a classic/corney one like “what keeps you up at night”. You may not love that the answer isn’t “Box A” – but at least you really will know where you stand. In modern call coaching, some of the best teams are actually picking up on when this is happening and building out live prompts (bullet points/frameworks) for reps to remind themselves of why they are really there. In our example, if I were Rick, we could have started with a “What is love to you, Ron?” and saved a bunch of talk about loving inanimate objects.
Not listening with intent
The second lesson here is really around listening with intent. In the situation from our example, Rick wanted so badly to add value to the conversation that he blurted out something that doesn’t make sense at all (though, he may not have known it). When faced with a situation they don’t understand, the inherent nature of a salesperson is to feature dump. This happens because the features are something we do understand. If you are listening with intent, it will help you find the right questions to ask. Even if you think you understand the question, by repeating it back and confirming, you can really get to the root of the problem. On a side note, modern sales coaching software is actually helping with this by forcing reps to hear out full objections, pause for a moment, and then respond.
In real-life sales scenarios, the failure to listen and to critically think about the prospect’s problem often leads to a disconnect. When this happens to me from the prospect side I always think “this guy is trying to sell me”.
Solving the right problem through active listening
How many times have you been on a call and heard a prospect or customer say something that has true meaning to the outcome of solving their problem and it seems to go right over the salesperson’s head? I remember the first “brand new” car I purchased, I talked to the salesperson about some concerns that I had regarding being able to fit a car seat. He asked if I had the car seat there, I said “no”, and he then showed me tons of more features on the car and talked about the safety of my child. At no point was I ever concerned about the safety of the vehicle beyond the obvious safety features. It was as if he had no idea what I was talking about. I said again, “hey, just need to make sure the car seats fit” – I had 3 kids at the time and needed them all in car seats. He then starts talking about how reliable the engine is and how I’ll never get stuck out in the cold. Long story short, he assumed that I must be worried about dying on the road when in reality I was worried about tying down 3 little rugrats so they couldn’t jump all over the place while I was driving. The salesperson couldn’t identify with having 3 kids, the challenges that brings, and instead of listening/asking the right questions, he went straight to feature dumping.
Use tech to solve the right problems and close more deals
Modern sales coaching software cannot critically listen for you, and we cannot use AI to help them understand what a prospect really means. BUT it can help your salespeople avoid many of these problems by spacing out talk tracks and then prompting objection responses only after a prospect is done speaking. There are many sales leaders making a point to go back to call transcripts as a coaching mechanism and help their reps identify how they can listen more intently and ask better questions. The end result of increased listening is always asking better questions, and the end result of asking better questions is a better understanding of how to solve your prospect’s problem. Once you can solve their problem, that is when you have the deal.
Examine your team’s behavior, do you think there are any “I love lamp” moments? If so, we can guide you on how to use technology to help your reps improve their outcomes.