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The World's Worst Pick Up Line ... and OODA Loop

The World's Worst Pick Up Line ... and OODA Loop

July 19, 2012

I don't lose my cool too often, but there's one thing that really sets me off.

And I mean I get vehemently angry. My blood pressure rises and my face begins to tighten. Worst of all, your employees may be the ones who are turning me into the Incredible Hulk and getting me so fired up that I want to punch someone!

Why? Because they're using the worst pick up line of all time every time they meet a customer ' me included! Whether they're on the phone or on the sales floor, most of them are using the same line over and over'

'How can I help you?'

Deep breaths. Slow down. Pleasant thoughts '

Look, it really is the worst opening your employees can use, because it's costing you sales. But the solution isn't just better opening lines. The solution is better sales training!!

I'll give you two techniques (including one jet fighter pilots use in the U.S. Air Force and Navy) that business owners are using right now that have increased sales. And before you say, 'But Jon we don't have time for training' I'll give you a solution for that too'

The Big Rub that's killing your sales

Let me start by addressing the Big Rub. You know what I'm talking about. It's TIME. Who has time to shut down your business for several hours or a day ' or pay everyone to bring them together for a special training that only a few of your sales people may ever use? Right? Sometimes someone offers you an idea so good and you say, 'I don't have time.' Well pay attention because this is one of those ideas.

Bottom line: You have slow down 10% to speed up 50%. You read that right. To speed up and increase your sales you're going to have to take the time to slow down a bit to train your people on everything from their pick-up lines, customer service to their closing techniques. The beauty of these techniques I'm about to share is that they don't take much time at all'

Working with one of our clients, Tom Brooks, we had big breakthrough with his sales training. It's called 'Triangle Training.' He uses this technique to train his managers as well as sales people. As the owner of Truckin Thunder in Virginia, Tom sells hundreds of heavy duty tool boxes, hitches, floor mats and other accessories for truck and van owners.

Just 15 minutes is all you need

'Triangle Training' is a terrific way to train your staff because it doesn't take much time and they train each other. No trainer required. No special props are needed. All you need is about 15 minutes. Here's how it works.

1. One person plays the role of customer.
2. A sales person plays himself.
3. A 3rd person plays the role of observer.


The 'customer' and the 'sales person' should role play a common sales scenario. The 'observer' should simply watch and pay special attention to verbal cues, questions, responses as well as the sales person's body language. Afterwards, the observer provides feedback to the salesperson and the three of them coach each other. Then, they keep switching roles.

Tom surprised his managers in a recent meeting and asked them to role play selling a tool box to a 'customer.' The first manager, he said, really struggled. The second manager did better. And the third manager did very well -- because they had all learned from each other.

'We're trying to move our company from order takers to a sales outfit,' he says. Using
Triangle Training, he's now getting his sales people to ask more questions and be more aware. 'If the customer is asking more questions than the salesperson, then the customer is controlling the conversation. And that's not the way it should be,' he says.

For example, at Truckin Thunder, a customer may come in asking about a tool box. In the past, the sales person would show the customer some of their most popular toolboxes. Now, they qualify by asking a series of questions like, 'What kind of truck do you have? What kind of tools are you carrying? Is your truck left unattended in the evenings? Does it need to be secured? Have you had a tool box in the past? What did you like about it or didn't like about it?'

The secret to a 15% sales increase

Based on the customer's responses, they can then direct him to the best toolbox for his needs. As a result, sales are up about 15% since they've implemented the Triangle Training nearly two months ago. That's because the staff is learning more about the customer and can recommend additional products. It's working so well that Tom may have his sales staff come in 15 minutes early two days a week to work on the Triangle Training. Now we are onto the next phase of growing his business.


John Long, owner of Marathon Sports running store, recently used the OODA Loop sales training strategy which has helped boost sales 10%.

In Minnesota, my friend, John Long, borrowed a maneuvering technique U.S. Air Force and Navy jet fighters often use called the 'OODA Loop', which represents the sequence of events that unfold in a combat situation: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

Although not a combat situation, the same sequence of events occurs in sports as well as sales and customer service everywhere, including John's running store, Marathon Sports.

Many of his sales people are young athletes. So he adopted the OODA Loop to train his staff on how to interact with customers from the moment they walk into the store, which may go something like this:


Observe' Does the person look like an experienced runner? Does it look like the person is a first-time visitor? Does the person look like they may have been referred by a doctor? (NOTE: Nothing is spoken at this point. But the first step is already begun, and can take just one or two seconds so the sales person quickly moves into the next step')


Orient ' Based on their observations, the sales person may ask: 'What are you looking to accomplish with your visit today?' (Isn't that better than "How can I help you?") If they're an ultra-marathoner, then they may also ask, 'Did you run today?' If it's there first time in the store, they may give the customer a quick tour of the store as if they're showing off their brand new apartment to a friend.

Decide ' The sales person then asks a series of follow-up questions about the customer's exercise habits, style preferences, past shoe experiences, etc. as he or she takes the customer through the store's special fitting process.

Act ' Based on the information gathered from the decision process, the sales person recommends particular brands and styles of shoes for the customer to try.


Source: John Boyd; wikipedia.org

Created by USAF Colonel John Boyd, the OODA Loop is used by jet fighters to counter attacks. But it's also a terrfic training device to use with your sales staff.

Every customer is different, John says, so the interaction should be different. But the OODA Loop process is always the same and gives his sales staff a process to help them engage the customer in a more conversational and meaningful way.

As a result, the staff is more aware of the people in the store, they're more willing to help each other during a sale, they're more engaged with customers and overall, sales are up about 10%.

Here are 6 steps to create your own OODA Loop'


1. Map the sales process and pay special attention to all the points in which you touch the customer. (i.e., They walk in, eye contact, greeting, engage, exploration, decision to purchase, upsell). Build the scenarios, imagine the most basic interactions and map them out.


2. Identify the major points where your sales people Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

3. Simplify, Codify and Multiply (SCM) the best sales techniques. Watch your best performers and model what they do. Determine what's working and what's not in your process. Then, simplify the best techniques, document them (codify) and then train others (multiply) how to do it too.

4. Take the time to teach the OODA Loop to your sales staff.

5. Have your sales staff mentor each other using the Triangle Training. Whenever there is downtime at Tom Brooks' store, for instance, he has his sales staff role play various customer scenarios.

6. And most importantly, provide a feedback loop. If you're using the Triangle Technique, for example, make sure the observer is providing sound guidance and the sales person is getting advice for improvement.

Every business has a different 'way' of interacting with customers.

  • Tom has The 'Truckin Thunder Way.'
  • John Long has the 'Marathon Sports Way.'
  • We have the 'Brand Launcher Way.'


What's your 'way' of communicating with customers? How can you train your sales staff using the OODA Loop or Triangle Technique to develop your 'way' of doing business?

Does it take time? You bet it does. Keep in mind, slow down 10% to speed up 50%. The Big Rub is that we're all in a hurry and don't believe we have the time to provide training or Simplify, Codify or Multiply. But it's the only to growth and freedom from your business.

If you want help getting your staff to perform better CLICK HERE.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President