Werner Erhard would describe "the guy in the diner" as someone who has an opinion on everything without ever experiencing anything. It's like when you are talking to your friends or family about what to do about runaway inflation, which college football team is going to win the national championship, or weigh in on who the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should have inducted in 2022 (Pat Benatar is overdue, as are MC5, The New York Dolls, and Judas Priest).
- The Oxford Dictionary defines the word opinion as: "What or how one thinks about something; judgment or belief."
- The Oxford Dictionary defines perspective as: "The relation or proportion in which the parts of a subject are viewed by the mind; the aspect of a subject or matter, as perceived from a particular mental point of view."
- The true understanding of the relative importance of things; a realistic sense of proportion.
The Difference Between Opinion and Perspective in Sales
Let us agree the difference between your opinion and your perspective is that your opinion doesn't require you to have experience in the subject matter you are weighing in on, while your perspective is the result of your experience, making it something more valuable than your opinion.
You are entitled to your opinion even if you know nothing and have no experience in the subject matter you are discussing. But when it comes to being One-Up, you don't want to offer your client your opinions. Instead, you want to offer them your informed perspective.
A Simple Example of the Difference Between Opinion and Perspective in Sales
You walk into your local car dealer to buy a new car, as you just cashed the largest commission check in your career. You are struggling to decide between buying a red car or the same model in yellow. The salesperson suggests that the yellow model is much more attractive, offering you their opinion. But immediately after expressing their opinion, they follow up by noting that the red model is going to hold its value, as many more people buy the red when buying a used car, sharing their perspective.
I have a friend who can never make up his mind whenever we have dinner. Instead of choosing from the menu, he asks the waiter or waitress what he should order. Much of the time, the person taking the order will name a dish and suggest that a lot of people really like it. Then to make sure my friend knows that the value of the information isn't particularly valuable, I ask the server if they have ever tried the dish they named. In nice restaurants, the servers will have tried everything on the menu and will have a perspective. My friend always orders the dish the server recommends, even though the server's perspective is based on the number of people who order the dish, having never tasted it themselves.
Your Obligation to Your Clients and Prospective Clients
One reader of Eat Their Lunch asked me how I conducted the research for the book. I explained that I don't do any traditional research, as I am only willing to provide advice and recommendations based on what I have actually executed myself. The books are my perspective, not my opinions. I feel I would be a fraud to suggest a strategy or tactic having only read about it.
Your obligation to your client must be something greater than your opinion. Because your clients rely on you to help them make the best decision for their business, your advice and your recommendations must be based on a perspective built on your many experiences helping others improve their results. It is your experience that provides you with a perspective.
To occupy the One-Up position and remove your client from being One-Down, you need a perspective informed by your experience.
Your perspective is what allows you to offer your counsel, as you have much more experience than your client when it comes to the decisions they need to make to improve their results.
When you advise your client to do this instead of that, you are sharing something that will improve their decisions and results, as your client will not have the experience to know that a different choice would not be the best choice for them because certain factors make the first choice better than another choice, even if your client likes the second choice better.
The Value of Your Experiences to Your Perspective
Recently, I started a file titled: Dumb Things Smart People Say. I capture the pictures of the quotes these intellectuals offer, a reminder that the value of the advice is inverted when the person has no experience that should cause one to follow the guidance on offer.
Your perspective needs to come from what actually works, why it works, who it works for, and who it doesn't work, and what works for your clients based on their goals and initiatives, as well as their resources and their constraints. After working in an industry for some time, your perspective will take shape without you consciously trying to develop it. Your subconscious mind will recognize certain patterns before your conscious mind realizes it.
Because your client lacks your experience, you have to transfer the value of your experiences in the form of your perspectives. To help your client acquire your perspective, you have to share with them the stories and the lessons you have learned by helping other similarly situated clients improve their results, including the problems and challenges that provided you with the negative outcomes you now know how to help your clients avoid.
There is nothing close to the value of a book. For twenty-five dollars and six hours, you can acquire the knowledge and experience of an author who learned what they know over decades. But what comes closest to that transfer of perspective is spending a couple of hours with your clients, helping them to acquire a perspective that will cause them to make the decision you would make for them. Know for sure, that this is what you are doing as a consultative salesperson.
Learn how to be One-Up in sales in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative.