Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?

Someone recently mentioned to me that Dr. Seuss’ classic Green Eggs and Ham is one of the greatest sales training books ever.  Let’s take a look.

The protagonist doesn’t even have a name, so perhaps the rapport building could use some work.  The antagonist (i.e., sales person) is the irrepressible Sam-I-Am.

Right away, our hero protests “I do not like that Sam-I-Am!”  Sam-I-Am is already swimming upstream before he even opens his mouth.  He must look like a cold-calling, door-to-door, used car salesman.

Undeterred, he goes immediately for the close.  “Do you like green eggs and ham?” he asks.

Objection #1:  “I do not like green eggs and ham.”  Period.  No explanation or elaboration provided.

“Would you like them here or there?”

Objection #2 features a blanket statement, “I would not like them anywhere.”

“Would you like them in a house?  With a mouse?”

Objection #3 follows.  Things start getting redundant, so I’m not going to re-type the entire book.  But let’s follow the story and see how many objections are made, and ultimately overcome.

“Would you eat them in a box?  With a fox?”

Objection #4…

“Would you?  Could you?  In a car?

Objection #5…

Sam-I-Am shows a bit of confidence now.  “You may like them.  You will see.  You may like them in a tree!”

Objection #6 is punctuated with “You let me be.”

“Could you, would you, on a train?”

Objection #7…

“Say!  In the dark?  Here in the dark!  Would you, could you, in the dark?”  (Side note:  readers please don’t try this line on a first date.)

Objection #8…

“Would you, could you, in the rain?”

Objection #9…

Time for a restatement of the prospect’s objection.  Sam-I-Am now asks, “You do not like green eggs and ham?”  His prospect answers, very clearly, “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.”  Again a minor faux pas, as every customer service book emphasizes the benefit of referring to your customer’s by name and Sam-I-Am fails again to do this.

“Could you, would you with a goat?”

Objection #10…

“Would you, could you, on a boat?”

Objection #11… this time quite emphatic with a recap of all the prior objections.

Sam-I-Am now smiles, holding up his product with pride.  “You do not like them.  So you say.  Try them!  Try them!  And you may.  Try them and you may, I say.”

Finally, a little movement.  “Sam!  If you will let me be, I will try them.  You will see.”  And that’s just what he does.

The green eggs and ham turn out to be quite good.  Our hero likes them and decides he would like them all of the ways they have been offered, reciting again the entire list, and closing with:  “I do so like green eggs and ham!  Thank you!  Thank you, Sam-I-Am.”

Who first said, A Prospect Is Always A Prospect Until He Becomes A Client?  Perhaps Dr. Seuss.

—  David Bass


One Response to Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?

  1. Ah, the wicked sales guy! I never thought about the Dr. Seuss analogy, but the shoe certainly fits the persona of every good sale person: persistence, persistence, persistence — re-frame — persistence

    Great insight on this entry.

    Jeffrey M Johnston
    President & CEO

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