Walt Disney Knew it First: Selling is about Confidence and Constancy

Sales rallies are a great way to energize your staff, communicate new selling tools and techniques and to build team spirit.  I was recently asked to speak at a sales rally where the theme for the event was Disney, a company selected because of its stellar reputation for service.  My job was thus to link my ideas about sales to service. Disney of course has long been known for its excellent customer service, and if you’ve ever been to Disney World you know what I mean. It’s a firm that’s exceptional when it comes to both selling and up-selling. Even better, while doing some research on Disney in preparation for my talk, I came upon this quote from Walt himself:

“Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy, and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way … implicitly and unquestionably.”

I was especially struck by these words and their relevance to sales and service. After all, the foundation of effective selling is uncovering the prospect’s needs and desires. To do this well, sales people must be “curious.”  The very best sales people channel their curiosity into exceptional questioning skills that quickly and accurately discover how they can help the customer meet their business and personal goals. That sincere curiosity is the result of being truly customer focused, i.e., keeping your own ego in check.

Once a prospect’s needs have been uncovered, selling becomes all about persuasion.  The best sales people really believe in their product or service “all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”  It’s that kind of confidence that persuades people to buy.   As a result, it’s damn near impossible to resist buying stuff from Disney!  They “believe” in the magic they sell — a belief that’s contagious.

Which creates this question: If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, why should your prospect or customer?  When I conduct sales training for a bank, I often ask how many in the room use an on-line account.  I then ask those who didn’t raise their hands, why they don’t? I then get standard objections around security, hating computers, not wanting to bother with it or — “I’m just too lazy to set it up!”  So when I next ask them how they can expect to sell a service that they don’t use and believe in themselves, an “ah-ha moment” pervades the room.

Ask yourself a few questions: Just how much confidence does your sales team have in yourproducts?  How much confidence do your sales reps have in your company? In your company’s ability and willingness to keep its promises to its customers?  If you hear grousing and complaining when you put these questions to your crew, instead of “Damn, we’re good!” – you may be in serious need of a change in attitude —  and not necessarily just among your sales reps. It might be time to take a good look in the mirror!

Keeping promises is the cornerstone of great customer service.  It’s the “constancy” of focus that builds superior service.  I know, I know: it’s hard to stay focused on anything these days. But if you have to choose what to focus on, your first choice had better be your customers.   Truly great organizations have learned that listening to and responding to customer needs is what drives profits.  They know that achieving superior service takes time and commitment.   Delivering superior customer service must be more than lip service or “flavor of the month” – the customer must be your constant focus every day, every month, every year.

And to constancy of focus I would add “consistency.”  Your message, your service, your products, your people must all be consistent.  Variations in service or product knowledge from employee to employee or location to location will undermine your customer’s confidence in you, leaving you vulnerable to your competition.  Customers return to Disney World and Disneyland over and over because they know exactly what to expect and they always get it – efficient, friendly service delivered in a fun and exciting environment. Disney is the leader in consistent delivery and constant customer focus.

It takes courage to be a terrific sales person and it takes courage to deliver terrific service.  Certainly, sales professionals no matter who they are demonstrate courage every day in the face of continual rejection.  It also takes courage to handle difficult, sometimes angry customers while maintaining a cool, customer-centric composure.  And finally it takes courage on the part of management to build a customer-driven organization that truly believes in and unfailingly acts upon the precept that what’s good for the customer is good for the company.  Executing on such beliefs may be difficult–very difficult—but it is nonetheless essential. Only those who live these beliefs each and every day, faithfully practicing Uncle Walt’s four Cs, can honestly be labeled the best and make dreams come true.