The Salesman Who Couldn’t See What Was Inside the Empty Christmas Box

A successful businessman recently told me that he thought far too many of his salespeople were approaching prospects with a ready-made set of expectations, beliefs and paradigms – and that even the most experienced were missing out on new business because of their long-held (often self-restricting) perceptions.

He was desperate for his sales team to look for the total opportunity, not just the one that they were expecting to find.

And the conversation reminded me of this Christmas story.

It’s December 24th and Salesman Bob has finished for Christmas.

The traffic back was hell, the boss never lets anyone go early for Christmas and he reckons he might be coming down with a cold.

But at least he’s home.

Now – where is that really expensive gold wrapping paper he bought for his wife’s present.

Someone’s used it – although no one is admitting to it.

Bob has to go back out and buy some more wrapping paper.

Bob is not full of Christmas cheer.

Then it’s the big day – YAY!

The kids woke up around 5.30, came in for a hug, but never settled back down to sleep. They’re desperate to see if HE’s been.

There are lots of gasps, screams of delights and “look daddy, look” – and, although Bob protests, there’s a picture his wife takes of him unshaved, exhausted, sitting on the floor and wearing his dressing gown inside out.

He goes to make a cup of tea and his little girl follows him into the kitchen with a shoe box wrapped in AN ENTIRE ROLL OF EXPENSIVE GOLD PAPER.

OK Bob, no need to get angry it is Christmas.

But when he opens it – the box inside is completely empty.

“Honey, that’s just a waste of paper. You’re supposed to put something in the box. That’s the whole point of giving presents. You don’t just give people EMPTY boxes”

To which the little girl replies;

“But it’s not EMPTY daddy. I blew kisses into it until it was full and then I wrapped it up with as much special paper as I could find so they couldn’t get away, so whenever you’re away with work you can open up the box and take out one of my kisses at bedtime to help you sleep tight.”

The Moral of the Story?

How many times this year did you look straight at an object, an opportunity or another human being and miss something potentially wonderful?

The wonderful Zig Ziglar used to call it a bad case of Stinkin’ Thinkin’ – and when I’m running sales workshops I hear it all the time.

We combat Stinkin’ Thinkin’ during our training with something I first outlined in my book Selling with EASE – which I called BIO & TIOBest Intended Outcome and Tolerable Intended Outcome.

If you want to surpass your business and personal targets next year BIO & TIO are the first steps to clearing out the head trash that’s probably stopping you from getting there.

All the best for a wonderful Christmas and a spectacular New Year


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