Once upon a time there was a bee called HappyBee who lived in a pleasant semi-detached beehive in the middle of a big Would. He would have gone out more but the Would was full of Would-bees who hassled him quite a lot, selling shiny, insubstantial and illusory dreams. One day a Would-bee called Sellafield came up to the hive and offered HappyBee some special dark glasses which would allow him to go out into the Would without being dazzled by shiny, insubstantial and illusory dreams. Sellafield wasn’t a bad bee as far as Would-bees go. He listened and he seemed very genuine. And he did really seem to like the glasses. In fact he was wearing some himself because it was a sunny day and they really did protect your eyes from dangerous radiation and dodgy deals which were things Sellafield was very genuinely concerned about. There was a lot of credible scientific research to prove the efficacy of the dark glasses and Sellafield obviously believed in this research and was very convincing about it.
HappyBee didn’t really want to buy the glasses because he was perfectly happy staying in the hive and only went out when he had to do the nectar shopping, which didn’t involve going into the Would. He would make a list of what he wanted and avoid anything that was too obviously shiny that was not already on his list because he was happy without it and he found he had more money this way. But Sellafield was a very bee-guiling bee and dealt with all of HappyBee’s objections one after another. Every now and then Sellafield would get HappyBee to imagine all the irritating Would-bees he might have to deal with if he didn’t buy the dark glasses, and all the pleasant feelings he would experience if he went around wearing the dark glasses. Eventually, partly because he couldn’t be bothered to argue anymore and partly because he was scared of what would happen if he could see all the Would-bees, and partly because he could imagine how wonderful he would feel when he was wearing the glasses, and partly because he was really convinced by the scientific evidence, and partly because they were shiny, because he was just a bee, he bought the dark glasses anyway.
Sellafield went back into the Woulds and later that day attended a meeting of all the Would-bees. Every now and then the Would-bees would get together to talk about stuff and to agree strategies and policies and to practice techniques and all those kinds of things that Would-bees do. Some of the Would-bees were Wanna-bees and some were just Would-bees-if-only, and some were Already-has-bees. There were even some strange looking bees who looked more like flying beans than actual bees.
These beens with bee wings were known as the Has-beens. They talked and talked about all kinds of things but today, HappyBee was the main topic of conversation. Apparently he was a Buyer-bee and this was a kind of bee that all the Would-bees were very interested in. If all the Would-bees had really stopped for a moment and listened to the still quiet voice within their heads they would have realized that HappyBee wasn’t really a Buyer-bee at all, he was really just a Just-bee. A kind of Live-and-Let-Live-Bee. But they didn’t. They talked about strategies and policies and all that gumpf and some of the Would-bees genuinely wanted to help HappyBee because they were worried that if he didn’t get out more he would become unhappy.
Then the Busy-bees said they should form an action plan, so they did.
Meanwhile HappyBee was sitting in his hive looking at his new dark glasses. He was a bit fed up. He thought the glasses were very nice and very useful….if you went outside a lot. But he stayed in a lot. He was beginning to regret buying the dark glasses from Sellafield. It was all very well imagining this and imagining that, and Sellafield was a genuine Would-bee and meant well, but the reality was that HappyBee liked to imagine what he liked to imagine. And it didn’t involve going out. After all, that’s why he had picked a semi-detached hive; so he could go out by staying in and becoming semi-detached from the outside.
The next day, HappyBee was sitting in his hive in a bit of a daydream. He was dreaming about all the lovely things he liked to dream about. He had put the dark glasses on Bee-bay which was a special place where bees could put things they had bought which they didn’t really want. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. It was another Would-bee called Sellalot. HappyBee didn’t like Sellalot. He had met him in the Woulds and Sellalot had tried to hassle him into buying a lot of things he really, really didn’t want and which were over-priced and unproven, scientifically speaking. HappyBee pretended not to be in, which was something he was very good at because he really was out inside his head which is the best place to be when you are in and you want to be out but you don’t really want to be out.
Eventually, after a lot of dubious tactics, like shouting, ‘FIRE, FIRE!’ and ‘there’s a weasel in the woods!’ Sellalot went away.
Later, two Wanna-bees approached HappyBee’s hive and knocked so hard the whole hive shook. They were called Rich and Fatuous and wanted to be very rich so very badly that they were prepared to do anything (and even be unhappy) to be what they wanted to be, including things they themselves didn’t really feel comfortable about. They had a strong belief which was that when someone buys something then they are in buying mode so this is a good time to sell them more things. The two Wanna-bees were selling something called Fresh Air which they were convinced would be good for HappyBee. But HappyBee was getting cross because his hive was all messed up by the violent knocking and he was starting to feel besieged. But he was a good ignorer-bee and eventually Rich and Fatuous went away.
Later still that day, two more bees called Hassle and Hustle turned up. Hassle and Hustle thought HappyBee was just stupid and needed to get out more. They thought if they could get him out he would be really grateful to them once he realised how good ‘out’ was and this would make him more susceptible to a hard sell. They put notes on the windows for HappyBee to read and slipped lots of glossy paper through his letterbox and did all kinds of publicity seeking stunts outside the hive to get HappyBee to come out.
But HappyBee had had enough. He did decide to come out but when he opened the door he just said bad things to Hustle and Hassle and they went away with a flea in each ear although the fleas soon left because Hassle and Hustle tried to sell them some itching powder because they hadn’t really taken the trouble to understand the whole flea-itching-flea-powder sales dynamic.
The following day a senior-bee called Count Manager came to visit HappyBee to apologise for the behaviour of Hassle and Hustle and to re-build their commercial relationship. Imagine his surprise when he discovered there was a sign outside the semi-detached hive saying, SOLD. He looked inside and saw that all the furniture had gone and no-one was in, although there was a pair of dark glasses lying in the middle of the floor.
Somewhere far, far away, on the other side of the Would, in a place called Already Have, HappyBee was sitting in his new, DETACHED hive. It was a funny place. On the inside it was the most amazing hive you could ever imagine. There were all kinds of wonderful things and if you went inside you just couldn’t help feeling happy and inspired. On the outside though, it was invisible to all Would-bees, Wanna-bees and Has-beens except for a notice board.
On the notice board there was list of Messages for Would-bees, Wanna-bees and Has-beens:
- It’s a wonderful thing to be passionate about what you are selling and to believe in it totally
- It completely makes sense to anticipate buyer objections
- It is wise to have genuine solutions to all buyer objections
- Having genuine scientific evidence for the real, life-enhancing value of your product is ethical and demonstrates your good will
- Persistence, industry and focus are admirable qualities
- Listening and rapport building are fantastic and essential skills
- Selling me things I really do not want ultimately breaks rapport
- Selling me your solutions instead of my solutions only works for you and not for me
- If I experience remorse I am disinclined to risk repeating the experience
- In spite of all the scientific evidence to the contrary, my solution works for me because it is my solution
- When I am ready to buy what I really want I will know where to find it and I will buy it from someone I like and trust
- Your job is not to sell, your job is to find out who doesn’t want what you have to sell and to leave them alone