As a sales professional, Carrot Selling can be one of the most important mental models in your toolkit. Whether you are selling an extremely expensive product or a more commonplace service, the core elements of Carrot Selling will help you reach your goals.
Don’t believe me? In this article, we are going to go over some of the core elements of Carrot Selling. At the end, you will have a great idea of what Carrot Selling is and how you can incorporate it into your business.
To better explain Carrot Selling, I was really happy to get some insights from Jeffrey Gitomer. Simply put, Jeffrey is the king of sales. Through online learning, seminars, consulting, and coaching, Jeffrey helps his clients accomplish all of their sales goals. One of the great things about learning from Jeffrey is that he has written extensively on this subject matter of sales. In fact, he has written over five New York Times best-selling books on sales. Some of those books are The Little Red Book of Selling and Sales Bible. Between his work as a prolific author and game-changing sales coach, you are definitely going to want to listen to Jeffrey’s tips, tricks, and strategies.
So are you ready? Let’s jump into Carrot Selling and how it can change the course of your sales strategy.
Starting with Basics
So what is Carrot Selling? The idea goes back to the old saying “You can use a carrot or you can use a stick.” The carrot represents some positive incentive while the stick represents some negative incentive. The overall goal of the carrot or the stick is to produce some type of outcome.
For instance, let’s say that you are trying to motivate your team to reach a specific sales goal. In this sort of situation, a carrot would be a reward (like a financial bonus) for the team hitting the goal by a certain date. A stick would be in the form of the employee with the lowest number of sales getting fired. It’s a simple and crude example, yet it shows how the carrot or stick can be used to incentivize certain types of behavior.
When we’re talking about Carrot Selling, however, we are talking about positive incentives. In sales, the carrot is attracting someone to you, instead of pushing your agenda onto them. To put it another way, it is about leading with value and helping the prospect accomplish his or her goals, rather than instilling your sales agenda onto them. Instead of following a pre-planned script that is laser-focused on how you can help your company achieve its sales goals, Carrot Selling leads with the prospect. The good news is that by providing value and leading with the prospect, you actually get in a better position to actually accomplish those internal goals.
The key with Carrot Selling is pulling people in. It isn’t about pushing or being too salesy. Rather, it is about drawing in prospects through a variety of different ways. I’m going to speak about some of those ways below. Just keep in mind that you need to overwhelmingly focus on the prospect and how you are attracting them to you and your business. If you just remember this fact, you will already be in fantastic shape.
Zigging While Others Zag
One of the more important things that Jeffrey speaks about is a competitive edge. It’s really an example of when you want to zig when your competition is zagging. Carrot Selling is made for this, as it helps separate you from your competitors. While your competitors may be focusing on instilling their agenda onto others, you are playing a different game.
As Jeffrey says in one of his YouTube videos, he doesn’t necessarily teach people how to sell. Instead, he teaches his clients why people buy.
It isn’t easy to shift this perspective. Many salespeople will find that their bosses embrace archaic tactics like cold calling. Jeffrey argues that 99 out of 100 people that you cold call will hang up on you. Ultimately, he says that this is the single biggest reason why salespeople quit their jobs. While rejection is a part of life, consistent rejection over time can be extremely demoralizing. The second reason why salespeople quit their jobs is due to a bad boss. For instance, if you have a boss that demands cold calling, you will discover that cold calling rejection is the perfect firestorm for quitting.
Considering this, if you are a new salesperson, you need to embrace a different path. Again, to incorporate Carrot Selling, you need to zig while everyone else is zagging.
But what if your boss is forcing you to cold call? What if you can’t embrace some of the more effective ways of developing relationships and generating more sales?
What you can do is go visit 10 existing customers. Once you sit down with those customers, find out why they bought your company’s product or service. You can go with other salespeople, your boss, the CEO of your company, or someone else. Whoever you go with, get to why that customer is doing business with you.
So why should you do this? Getting this type of first-hand knowledge from your customers can help you sell your company to new prospects. On your next outbound call, you can say something like, “I know that I’m brand new. You may not necessarily know me. However, would you like to know why the last 10 customers purchased our company’s product or service?
By taking this approach, you don’t need to have a long introduction. You don’t need to go through the rigamarole of, “How are you today” and questions like this. This is a much more direct way of providing some upfront value and not wasting your prospects’ time.
As Jeffrey says, if he was a new sales representative at a company, he would take this exercise even further. He would spend one week at customers’ places of business. Jeffrey would immerse himself in this training and figure out why customers bought from his new company.
Whether you choose to implement this idea or not, it is a great example of Carrot Selling. Getting to know what your prospects want is a great way to pull people in.
The Power of Asking Questions
This leads to another important truth from Jeffrey. He says that as a sales professional, you need to ask questions rather than introduce yourself.
As a prospect, one of the simple realities is that you likely don’t care who the salesperson is. You are extremely busy in your day-to-day life. If you are a leader of your organization, you probably get pitches from salespeople all the time. Combining these two facts, a sales professional needs to really stand out to get (and keep) your attention.
On the other hand, if the sales professional has an idea for the prospect or has some questions for that prospect, the prospect is much more likely to listen. Questions and/or leading with value are a much better way to start (and strengthen) any type of prospect relationship.
Ultimately, if you are being taught how to sell, you will initially feel uncomfortable. You’ll probably feel like you’re being pushy. At the same time, you can remember all of the salespeople in your life that you didn’t like. It could be everyone from the person who sold you a subpar washing machine or the salesperson that sold you a specific car.
While cold calling and other sales tactics may have worked in the past, the tide is turning. Specifically, it is turning toward people that share certain qualities. As Jeffrey argues, they are shared value-oriented, perceived value-oriented, and relationship-oriented. If you are asking questions of your prospects, you are in the camp that is leading with value.
Remember: as a salesperson, asking is engaging. The key here is to provoke thought. It is to ask intelligent questions that get people on the other side to start thinking. You want them to start thinking, “What do I need to change in my life?”
So as Jeffrey says, you want to ask questions about prospects that make those prospects stop and think. You want them to consider new information and respond in terms of you. He calls this an engagement question.
For instance, Jeffrey may say something like, “We hardly know each other. Where did you grow up?” However that prospect responds, that information gives you a place to go. You have also emotionally engaged that prospect because they are thinking about things like the house they grew up in, their siblings, their parents (if they are still alive), and all the memories that occurred (both good and bad). To put it another way, Jeffrey has both information about them to further the conversation and he has an emotional connection that he can build upon.
Jeffrey argues that 99.9% of sales professionals will start the engagement by saying something like, “Thank you for having me. Let me tell you a little bit about our company.” The truth is that the prospect doesn’t really care about the company. In fact, there is probably another sales professional like you that is looking to take a piece of the prospect’s time. You need to tell the prospect something that they don’t know.
Sales professionals may balk at this. They may say, “That’s not how I was taught. I was taught to go through these 27 boring slides.” As Jeffrey says, he is grateful for these people. Over the course of 25 years, they have made him a fortune.
You don’t want to be on the other side of Jeffrey. You want to embrace Carrot Selling and incorporate questions into your day-to-day sales work. Sure, adopting this approach may initially feel uncomfortable. However, if you choose to do it and lean into this key Carrot Selling tenet, you will inevitably see positive results.
Take Advantage of Storytelling
If you have read our blog posts before, you undoubtedly know how much we value storytelling at Dubb. When it comes to sales, storytelling is so important because it is a starting point. It is a conversation starter. One great starting point is a smart question to ask your prospect. It helps you find common ground, and common ground is where a relationship can start.
Carrot Selling is tied with storytelling. Once you truly understand what your prospects or audience wants, you can create value in their lives by telling stories. Those stories can be everything from how your product or service has improved specific customers’ lives to how your company started. Even better is a testimonial video, which helps you leverage social proof by having other satisfied customers share stories about your company, product, or service. That said, when you are in the room with a prospect or other type of audience, you are going to want to lean heavily into storytelling.
As Jeffrey says, talking in sales is an unnatural state. A salesperson gets caught up speaking from the “bottom to the top” while Jeffrey starts from the top and works his way down. He isn’t afraid to share overarching stories that can better illustrate what it is that he is trying to sell.
The great news is that storytelling is a learned skill. You can get significantly better through practice. Even though some of your initial stories may fall flat, you will learn from your mistakes and get better. Over time, you will see a vast improvement.
Even better? As humans, we are wired for stories. It is in our DNA. Your audience wants to hear stories about you, your company, and your product or service. Storytelling is an inherent trait of Carrot Selling, so make sure that you are taking advantage of storytelling in your daily sales work.
Jeffrey believes in the power of video in the sales context. Not only is it powerful, but it is subtly effective as a component of Carrot Selling.
Video helps you build stronger connections with your audience members. It is a more engaging and powerful form of communication than text, as your viewers can hear and see what you are saying. Subtleties and nuances of your body language and tone of voice simply don’t come across in text-based communication. It is a more human way of communicating with any type of prospect or customer.
Moreover, video saves your prospects time. Even if they aren’t running large sales departments, your prospects are undoubtedly busy. They have full calendars in their personal and professional lives. Because of this, as a salesperson, you need to deliver your message as concisely and effectively as possible. Video (especially asynchronous video) lets you do this. Your audience members can view your video content whenever they want. Whether they are on their commutes or are catching up on their email before going to sleep, your videos are always working for you.
Video content is more effective for you as well. It is easier to create. Instead of typing out a lengthy email and contemplating subject lines, you can simply take out your smartphone and start recording. There isn’t much more powerful than that.
As part of the Carrot Selling method, you can use video in so many different ways. As he said, when he first started using video, Jeffrey attached a video to a proposal. The proposal was the central part of his pitch and he saw mediocre results from this strategy. Now, he flips the script. He attaches a proposal to a video. While it may seem insignificant, Jeffrey calls it “life-changing.” The video is the central player in the communication, which more easily lets you leverage everything that video-based communication has to offer.
It’s really easy to do this. For instance, you can make a video and say to the customer, “Listen, I have attached this exceptionally boring proposal to this video and have left the price out on purpose. However, I want to share with you what happens after you take ownership and how you win so that when you read this proposal, it makes more sense. My cell phone number is ‘XXX-XXX-XXXX’ and I will be standing by.”
In May 2022, Jeffrey used that strategy to make $350,000 in sales. The strategy works—even if certain sales professionals tried it and it didn’t end up working for them. More likely, the sales professionals who didn’t see success fell short for some idiosyncratic reason. Individual failures don’t mean the strategy itself doesn’t work.
I could go on and on about the different ways that you can use video to reach your sales goals. If you search through our blog, you will undoubtedly find great tips and strategies that we have written about. In the end, however, if you want to incorporate Carrot Selling into your business, it is in your best interest to use video. Whether you use Dubb or some other type of software, don’t hesitate to get in the habit of creating value-added video content for your prospects and customers.
Embrace Attraction Marketing by Creating Your Own Stage
As I said earlier in this post, Carrot Selling is about pulling people in, rather than pushing your agenda to them. It is about creating something valuable so that your prospects and customers are naturally interested in what it is you have to say.
Attraction marketing is all about attracting people to a stage that you have created. The key is creating your own stage. Essentially, it is about creating your own podium, pedestal, and speaker. Importantly, however, you need to say something valuable. It isn’t enough to create the podium, pedestal, and speaker while adding pure noise to the conversation. You need to add signal, which can be easier said than done. That said, by asking questions and really stepping into the shoes of your audience, you can more easily figure out what it is they want to hear.
But let’s go back to the specific medium. There are so many ideas here to attract people. As a starting point, you can start a podcast, host an online summit, or interview people to be in a book that you publish. In today’s day and age, there are so many different ways to create content. There are plenty of free and paid tools out there that can help bring your visions to reality. All you need to do is get started.
Remember: this is a good example of being the carrot that pulls someone in. You aren’t acting as the stick here. You are creating a platform, leading with value, and building long-term relationships with your audience. While these relationships won’t be built instantaneously, it is an investment that is absolutely worth the work.
Personalize Your Videos
As we are speaking about video content, I want to bring up one more point about videos and Carrot Selling. Whenever you are creating a video for an individual or group, you absolutely need to personalize that video. Even if that personalization is for a few seconds of a longer video, it is almost a prerequisite of Carrot Selling.
Personalizing your videos is critical in sales. It is especially critical when you are creating a video for someone that you don’t necessarily know. As I mentioned above, all types of professionals get unsolicited sales pitches. You can immediately tell if the message you are receiving is generic. If you send a generic, non-personalized sales video, your odds are incredibly steep. Sure, you may get lucky once in a while, but in all likelihood, you aren’t going to find much success with this strategy.
In sales, it is all about doing research. We have known that for years. However, we are living in an age where we are spending a significant amount of time online. We have plenty of online profiles, whether they are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or somewhere else. You are going to want to complete some diligence. Check out your prospects’ profiles and see what their hobbies are. Really understand who these human beings are.
If you don’t do this, you are essentially accepting a dereliction of duty. Think about it: people have online profiles because they want others to see them. Take advantage of that. Have a real human conversation based on what you have learned about their real life.
Just remember: you do not want to be weird about this. But also remember that it is only as weird as you make it.
You can think of this as a challenge. It is a skill that you can definitely develop. As Jeffrey says, he is a big AC/DC fan. AC/DC’s lead guitar player Angus Young is considered one of the best guitar players ever. He is around five feet, two inches tall. He had many challenges to overcome in his life, yet he overcame them. He is so great that Jeffrey classifies him in a category of musicians that he can watch twice. He doesn’t care how tall those musicians are; all he cares about is how good they are.
The same is true in selling. Jeffrey doesn’t care how tall you are. He wants to know how good you are. He wants to know whether you can transfer the message and make him want to buy your product or service. Do you have a compelling message? Is it value-driven? Does he have something in common with you that he likes?
To bring it back to the center, make sure that you are personalizing your video content. A great way to do that is to create a quick, 30-second personalized video and attach a longer, pre-made video to that message. If you are a Dubb user, you can easily do that through Dubb’s playlist feature. In the end, no matter what type of software you use, embrace personalization. Your prospects are already thanking you.
Finally, another key element of Carrot Selling is to embrace humor in sales. The idea here is to be human and be funny.
For instance, you can be funny by being self-deprecating. Jeffrey makes fun of himself. He recognized that if he does, then the other person becomes relaxed. Jeffrey gave an interesting example. When he checks into a hotel and the clerk says “Can I help you,” Jeffrey says that he is there for his hair transplant (Jeffrey is bald). The clerk doesn’t know what to say.
If the clerk smiles at Jeffrey and wants to further engage with him, Jeffrey knows what he is dealing with. That initial interaction sets the tone for anything else that Jeffrey wants. For instance, if he asks for water, potato chips, early check-in, or a better room, he can get it. Basically, anything that comes with having broken the ice, Jeffrey can access.
In a more straightforward sales context, Jeffrey may ask where a prospect grew up. That prospect may say that they grew up in a small town. Jeffrey will then say, “Well, I guess the first thing you had to watch out for was paved roads, right?” The prospect will then laugh.
Simply put, if you can make them laugh, you can make them buy.
Now, there is a huge question associated with this tactic. Many salespeople don’t think that they are funny. They may want to sincerely try this tactic and engage their prospects with humor, but they are nervous about whether they can make those prospects actually laugh. This is a real concern. One of the more cringe-worthy things is people who try too hard to be funny. If they think they are being funny and their audience doesn’t think they are being funny, the underlying relationship could be on rocky ground. If it happens enough times, the relationship could be permanently impaired.
So what can you do? Jeffrey says that if you don’t think you’re very funny, study humor. There are books you can buy and movies that you can watch. There are training programs that you can take that teach the essential principles of humor. You can even join a Toastmasters group that specializes in humorous speech.
Even if you pursue one (or more) of these paths, recognize that you aren’t going to be funny all at once. As Jeffrey says, he didn’t realize that humor was an important part of life until he was in the sixth or seventh grade. After that, he began studying humor. He would do things to see if he could get other people to laugh. At Temple University, he attended a public speaking class and sharpened his humor skills there. It was a process, and as Jeffrey says, if you aren’t thinking funny, you aren’t going to act funny.
Sure, there will be moments where you force it. There are going to be times when you say things that are not funny. No one is perfect. However, as long as you don’t do it most of the time, you are going to be fine. Making fun of yourself is a great way to put the odds in your favor. Jeffrey, for instance, has a joke on exercise that absolutely levels the playing field. He can then say anything next.
Creating Value Wherever You Go
Carrot Selling isn’t rocket science. You aren’t splitting the atom by incorporating Carrot Selling within your sales team. But having said this, Carrot Selling is an extremely effective way of reaching your sales goals. It lets you build long-term relationships with your prospects and helps you add value to their lives.
By putting the prospect and customer first, you are doing yourself a favor. You are actually increasing your chances of hitting your sales targets. While it may be so tempting to embrace the stick and use brute force sales tactics, the simple reality is that they don’t work. They actually destroy relationships that could be extremely valuable in the long term. On the other hand, by embracing Carrot Selling, you put the odds on your side. You make the entire conversation less stressful and more fulfilling. You become a top-tier sales professional who creates value wherever you go.
I encourage you to keep Carrot Selling at the top of your mind. At the same time, don’t hesitate to consider Dubb! At Dubb, we are laser-focused on creating the sales operating system of your dreams. Whether you are trying to leverage Carrot Selling in your business or simply want to use Dubb to reach your sales goals, we are happy to help you with your work.
To get in touch with us, feel free to click here. You can also click here to sign up for a free 14-day trial with Dubb. We can’t wait to see what you create!