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Have you ever watched a cruise ship come into dock? If you have, maybe you noticed those huge ropes that the crew uses to tie down the vessel. These ropes are as thick as your arm, and they’re pretty heavy. There’s a big potential problem when you’re dealing with ropes of that size. You need to get the rope safely all the way from the bow of the ship – which is about ten stories above the water line – to someone who’s standing down on the pier. There’s really no way to do it … unless you use what the sailors call a "Monkey’s Paw."

A Monkey’s Paw is a simple seafaring contraption that’s built around a little rubber ball. That little ball is connected to a long piece of tough string, which is tied to the huge, heavy rope. Instead of trying to throw that massive rope down to the guy who’s standing on the pier, you throw the little rubber ball. He catches it, and then he can pull the ball, the string, and the heavy rope to the dock. Maybe it once had something to do with a monkey. Who knows?

These days, because of David Sandler, the phrase has everything to do with sales. That little rubber ball is how you get in the door. If a big-ticket purchase is too intimidating to your prospect, you can use the Monkey’s Paw strategy to sell a small piece of the total sale (analogous to the little ball) … with the up-front agreement from the prospect that, if predefined conditions are met, the balance of the sale (analogous to the big rope) will take place.

So let’s say Jim’s prospect LaVonne is skeptical about committing the time and/or money associated with a long-term consulting arrangement. Jim might suggest that she invest in a “piece” of the service—perhaps 90 days of study and evaluation—for a small initial financial investment. The initial investment can then be applied to the balance of the consulting assignment if LaVonne decides to continue. 

Notice, though, that there must be a clear agreement between Jim and Lavonne about exactly what will take place during that initial period … and exactly how Lavonne will make the subsequent decision. If that part were missing, Jim would just be tossing LaVonne a rubber ball that wasn’t connected to anything at all! Who knows what you’d call that … but it’s not a Monkey’s Paw.

To execute the Monkey’s Paw strategy, you must perform through pain and budget stepsin accordance with the Sandler Selling System.

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