How a 200 Year-Old Shipping Tool Can Help You Get More Customers

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July 16, 2014

Have you ever watched a cruise ship come into dock? If you have, maybe you noticed those huge ropes that the crew uses to tie down the vessel. These bowlines are as thick as your arm, and they’re pretty heavy. There’s a big potential problem when you’re dealing with ropes of that size. You need to get the rope safely all the way from the bow of the ship, which is about ten stories above the water line, to someone who’s standing down on the pier. There’s really no way to do it … unless you use what the sailors call a “Monkey’s Paw”.

The monkey’s paw knot is most often used with the monkey’s fist knot on one end, a bowline on the other, with about 30 feet of line between. The lightweight feeder line would be tied to the bowline, then the weighted monkey’s fist could be hurled between ship and dock. The other end of the lightweight line would be attached to a heaver-weight line, allowing it to be drawn to the target easily.

David Sandler, creator of the Sandler Selling System, saw this as perfect analogy for marketing and sales. That little monkey’s paw is how you get in the door. If a big ticket purchase is too intimidating to your prospect to purchase on their own, you can use the Monkey’s Paw strategy to sell a small piece of the total sale (the Monkey’s Paw)… with the up-front agreement from the prospect that, if predefined conditions are met, the balance of the sale (analogous to the big bowline rope) will take place.

So let’s say you have a prospect that is skeptical about committing the time and/or money associated with a long-term agreement. You might suggest that she invest in a “piece” of the service, perhaps 90 days of study and evaluation, for a small initial financial investment. The initial investment can then be applied to the balance of the agreement if they decide to continue.

Notice, though, that there must be a clear agreement between you and the prospect about exactly what will take place during that initial period, and exactly how the prospect will make the subsequent decision. If that part were missing, you would be tossing them a Monkey’s Paw that wasn’t connected to anything! Who knows what you’d call that, but it’s not a Monkey’s Paw.

To execute the Monkey’s Paw strategy effectively, the prospect has to have significant reasons for solving the entire issue, and the budget to do so, otherwise you are just making a small sale. The Monkey’s Paw strategy is a means to ease into the bigger sale, so if there is no chance of the prospect making the larger purchase, then you are just going to be wasting time with unqualified prospects.

Solely offering to do an “assessment,” for instance, is not enough for you to successfully execute the Monkey’s Paw strategy. There’s no commitment for the prospect to do anything else, and no benchmarks for action, even if they pay for that “assessment.” The prospect must be will to make the total commitment, even if only a “piece” of it is required up front , and you must be able to diagnose a prospect’s problem fully, and identify a solution, before you can carve off a piece of that solution! So you still have to approach the large sale as you normally would.

The Monkey’s Paw strategy has been used successfully by sales and marketing teams around the country for decades. Most people won’t invest $10,000 or more because they saw an ad or got a call from your salesperson, but they may be willing to invest a small amount to test the waters and see how you do business. This strategy also allows to you collect more information from the new customer, such as there billing and contact information, and you get to evaluate them as a customer as well. You might find that navigating there PO process or billing time is not going to work well with your company.

If you have a long, large, or complicated buying process, you might try breaking it into pieces with a Monkey’s Paw to pull in more of those big customers.

This guest blog was written by Mike Montague, Associate & Certified Trainer, at Sandler Training Kansas City. You can check out his Monkey’s Paw offer of a 1-Day Sales Boot Camp on August 14th in Kansas City.


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