Can you sell like Rumpelstiltskin?


I had a chance to check out Shrek Forever After this afternoon and one of the scenes that caught my attention was the sales process between RumpelStiltskin and Shrek (see picture above, courtesy of Dreamworks)

Rumpelstiltskin, if you’re not familiar is a magical dealmaker who specializes in granting wishes…with unfortunate consequences and lots of fine print.  In the movie he hangs out at the Crone’s Nest Carriage Park (full of witches and crones) and desperately wants to become the ruler of Far, Far Away (where Shrek lives).

What does this have to do with business?  Well our man Rumpel is a true salesman and he displays some serious selling skills in the movie that could benefit anyone in business.

He pretty much goes through the entire sales process, although in this case it’s a one session close type of opportunity.

What’s your target?  What do they want?

The sales process starts with understanding who your target market is and what it is they want to buy.  In our example, Rumpelstiltskin is a bit down on his luck and he’s missed out on some big opportunities, so his target is really anyone who’s looking for a big change that magic can deliver.  As it turns out Shrek fits the bill – he wants one day when he could live the life of a single Ogre again without all the stress that’s in his life.

Rumpel does a bit of back alley research to figure all of this out and he learns exactly what his prospective buyer is looking for and how he feels about it (what his pain points are).

Establishing Contact

The next step in the sales process is to get in front of your prospect.  Most of the time, your best bet is to be introduced, but sometimes that’s not possible.  If you can’t do that, then you want to find a way to get in front of your prospect.  It’s a little unconventional, but Rumpel goes the route of staging an accident and asking Shrek for help.

Not only does this put Shrek off his guard, but it give Rumpelstiltskin a reason to offer Shrek a ride, a drink and dinner as thanks for the rescue – a great opportunity to build up rapport.

Building Rapport

As they’re riding along in the carriage, they share stories over drinks and Rumpel sympathizes with Shrek’s problems.  He puts himself into Shrek’s shoes and lets him know that he really understands where Shrek is coming from.  Shrek finally has someone who gets where he’s coming from, what his problem is and he’s thrilled to be listened to.

The Offer

The offer is a very natural conclusion to the discussion…hey – if you’re interested, I have a contract here that can give you what you want. 

Of course Shrek wants to know what the catch is and Rumpel plays it cool – he explains clearly that to get something you have to give something…and in fact he even takes the offer away as a great persuasion technique (“Well if you’re not interested – it’s no big deal, we don’t need to do anything…!), prompting Shrek to make the move to keep talking about the deal.

Now I will say that Rumpel deviates from the ideal sales script at this point by tricking Shrek into a Win-Lose deal that’s pretty one-sided.  He does ending up closing the deal, but he lies about the outcomes -  however like most of those deals, they don’t pay off in the long run.

Aside from that though, the overall sales process was very effective and would make an worthwhile framework for a lot of sales.

So how was the movie?

In case you’re wondering, the movie was good – worth a trip to the theater in my opinion.  It’s not as engaging as the first couple in the series, but the animation and 3D are very good, it’s got a good story, it has several funny parts and overall it’s a nice way to get away with your family for a couple of hours.

Have you seen the movie?  Did I miss any sales tips?  Share your thoughts below, I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach