Traffic Light Analogies

What a winner these are.  I got reminded of them today when a prospect left me a message on my voice mail.  Called Kevin, and MD of a £30m+ sales progressive lighting company, he mentioned he hoped to gain an “amber light” off his Chief Exec upon returning from America.

I chuckled when I heard this, and even sent him an email telling him so.  The reason being I really should use this tactic more often myself.  Talking traffic lights is simply a terrific qualification tool when seeking to pin down progress with a prospect.

The first time I came across it was from my good pal Steve Cullen.  A winner of a salesguy, I remember one cold Winter’s day being at a heating-less place near the Yorkshire moors (long story) in the 90s doing a jig for him around an unfurnished wooden-floored room, as he called me up to say he’d won a £25m outsourcing deal for PWC’s helpdesk.

We discussed selling a lot in those days, and one time, he encountered a sticky prospect that wouldn’t commit to anything at the end of meetings.  So out of frustration, Steve simply suggested that they list all outstanding issues on a flip-chart.  Then he said something along the lines of, “Right, think of which of these are essential to the project, without which nothing can happen.  Let’s give them a red traffic light, as they can stop the show.  Anything that can stay as it is now and won’t effect things can have a green one, and anything in between, amber”.  And with that he finally gained progress.  Genius.

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