When you provide the right solution for the right problem, you will never ever need an elephant gun to kill a fly.

How many times do salespeople, especially those involved in services, attempt to sell or employ an elephant gun for a solution (need) when the fly swatter would work perfectly fine?

Too often in the quest to increase sales, companies forget about the needs of the customer and focus on their own immediate needs – filling their pocketbooks.

What happens is they use a shotgun, or what I prefer to call an elephant gun, to kill the fly.


Probably this approach, which comes from a 100% sales-based marketing approach, speaks to the downfall of many companies. The first one that comes to mind is Anderson Consulting.

Sales professionals are problem solvers who, by listening and then educating, help their potential qualified customers (a.k.a. prospects).

This process is called education-based marketing and helps to avoid the elephant gun approach to kill a fly when a fly swatter works perfectly fine.

Of course, you may not earn as many dollars. However, you have established yourself as someone who can deliver results that are affordable, realistic, and build loyal customers.

The sales skill of listening is 100% the most critical technical sales skill that you can have.

Through the use of sales strategies such as gentle probing and asking open-ended questions, these salespeople can uncover the real problems, not just the symptoms disguised as problems.

When someone uses the elephant gun solution, in many instances, it is to solve a symptom but does not address the real problem.

Of course what happens is overkill or needless budget, energy, and time expenditures.

At this juncture, the sales professional is either hoping it solves the problem or does not care because she or he has received their commission.

Find a Better Approach

Another negative outcome of this elephant gun to kill a fly approach is that it gives other service professionals within the same industry a bad reputation.

How many times do we hear about insurance agents, realtors, financial advisors, business consultants, quality specialists, business coaches, sales coaches or executive coaches who charged big bucks and did not correct the problem?

In the movie The Patriot, Mel Gibson tells his sons to, “Aim small, miss small.”

This is good advice for all sales professionals.

When you provide the right solution for the right problem, you will never ever need an elephant gun to kill a fly.

And the best thing about this approach, other than hitting the mark (earning the sale), you will be asked back and your name will be freely given to others.

About the author

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith has over 25 years in sales. Her true joy is selling and…

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