By Greg Nanigian
Have you ever experienced beginners luck, where everything seems to go your way the first time you try something new, or do something you haven’t done in a long time? Every shot goes in the hoop, every puck in the net, every pool shot in the side pocket. Wouldn’t it be nice to have beginners luck all the time? The phrase “beginners luck” describes the phenomenon when people who are new to something, and inexplicably outperform so-called “experts.” The question is, why does it happen?
One answer is that when you are brand new to something, you aren’t bogged down by all the rules, theories, statistics and techniques that may churn through your head when you are an age old veteran and still trying to perform at peak level. When you are the veteran, don’t you hate when some newbie comes in and just starts cleaning up the place and winning everything in site? Well rest assured, in most cases of beginners luck, the luck will eventually fade away and reality will settle in, bringing the new top performer down to earth. This is especially true in sales.
In the selling world, we like to call the beginner stage, the “dummy stage”. Beginners luck usually runs out and performance becomes anything but consistent. However, if done right, you can harness the dummy phase, and use it to your advantage, something we like to call “The Dummy Curve”. The Dummy Curve is a process, or a progression from dummy to professional, but keeping the effective tools from the dummy stage to enhance your honed skills in the professional stage. Many of the “dummy” qualities are charming and disarming to the prospect, if used wisely and without being obvious. The trick is to harness the useful dummy qualities and become more reliable and productive as you grow into a sales professional.
MEET LT. COLUMBO
So you can see what I’m talking about in action, here’s an example we often use in our training to explain this concept. Way back in the 1970s and ’80s, there was a TV show about an LAPD detective named Lt. Columbo. His character was a seemingly bumbling detective who had a way of being vulnerable and disarming during his discussions with murder suspects. They always ended up underestimating him. Check out some YouTube samples of Columbo using his most famous line, “Just one more thing”.
In one episode, Columbo gets a call at 11 p.m. to investigate a murder. He hits the road and goes from house to house, looking for leads, until he knocks on the door of the fifth house. By now, it’s about 1:30 in the morning. A couple opens the door. The husband says, “Can we help you?” Columbo responds, “Oh, yes, I apologize, I know it’s late. I’m Lt. Columbo with the LAPD.” Columbo shows them his badge, and they curiously eye his disheveled appearance. (By the way, if you guessed that these two were the murderers in the episode, you’re right.) “Unfortunately,” Columbo goes on, “there’s been an incident with the Murphys up the street. Did you know the Murphys?” The wife says, “Well, kind of, not really.” Columbo says, “Well look, you’re not a suspect. I’m just here to ask you a few questions. It’s just routine. I know you’re not a suspect because there were tire marks all across their front lawn. I saw your car parked out front here. The tire treads don’t match.”
The couple invites him into the living room and offers him coffee. After a few minutes of questions and answers, Columbo interrupts the husband and says, “You know what? I apologize. I didn’t bring a pen or paper with me. I was asleep when I got the call to come out and forgot to bring those things with me. Could you help me with that?” The wife gets him a pen and paper. You can tell that both husband and wife are thinking, This guy’s clueless. He’s never going to catch us. With his head down and his suspects convinced that he’s an amateur, Columbo continues to ask questions and takes lots of notes. They never suspect the bumbling detective has what it takes to uncover their well-thought out scheme.
Finally, he completes the interview and returns the pen. He’s leaving, and they think they’ve gotten off scot-free. As he’s about to step outside, he smacks his palm against his forehead and says, “One more thing. Do you have another car?” They say, “Well, yeah, right out here in the garage.” They take him out to the garage. Columbo kneels down and inspects the vehicle. The tires are covered in mud,and the tread patterns match perfectly. Case closed. Lt. Columbo was so disarming that, at the moment of truth, the criminals literally forgot that he was a detective investigating a murder. Why was he disarming? Because he was so good at pretending he knew a lot less than he actually did.
Being the dummy and asking a lot of questions can help you disarm your prospects and get them to trust you much quicker than normal. Mastering the dummy curve can lead the dummy to closing more deals and making more money. In our next blog, we will show you how to put the Dummy Curve in to action and improve your sales production.
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