Super Agent

What You Can Learn From a Hot Dog Eating Champion

Authors of Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt didn’t use a PowerPoint presentation during their keynote address at the Live Your Story conference; instead they spoke to the room about the power of stories by telling stories. One of these was an account of competitive hot dog eater Takeru Kobyashi who decided to try his luck in a hot dog eating contest when he and his girlfriend were low on money.

He began to train using techniques he found, through experimentation and practice, to be most efficient—he separated the dog and the bun, dunked the bun in water so he wouldn’t have to take time to drink it separately and squeezed the bun into a ball that was easier to chew and swallow. Picturing it might make your stomach turn, but Kobyashi smashed the record by eating 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes when no one before had eaten more than 25.

So, what does Kobyashi’s story teach us?

-          Never accept the status quo barrier or limit.

Most decision-makers are currently satisfied and are unaware that there are any significant risks to their business. They see no unavoidable reason to change or look for alternatives. Are you offering new insights in your sales conversations, asking disruptive questions and developing the skills to steer prospects away from the transactional process that leaves them at risk? Successful producers help prospects discover what exists past that status-quo barrier—better outcomes, decreased risks, and a mutually valuable partnership.

-          Redefine problems and solutions to discover the story that no one else is telling.

For example, maybe a prospect believes that one of their problems is the high cost of their workers’ comp claims, and the only way to reduce that cost is to bid on their insurance. By engaging in honest dialog you can help them redefine the problem. Are their injured employees getting the right treatment by the right doctor at the right time? Is their experience mod incorrect or mismanaged? By leading them to reshape the problem they become aware of the real factors playing into their coverage, and you’ve created the emotional catalyst necessary for them to change.

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