Remember, Sales is all about the Slugs!

Remember, Sales is all about the Slugs!

During a recent Q&A session, I found myself coming up on the spot with an analogy about slugs.  My clients liked it and said they won’t ever forget it – so I thought you’d find it useful too!

One of my clients, a coach,  was sharing how, since doing the “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” course her sales conversations have improved, but even so she was still getting “No’s” from clients who she really felt would benefit from her services and she couldn’t work out why.   We identified that in her eagerness to demonstrate her value she was trying to show potential clients all the different ways she could help them – instead of honing in on the one most pressing problem or concern in their life that was causing them difficulty in that moment.

In other words, she wasn’t talking about the Slugs

To illustrate, here is my analogy (and if slugs make you squeamish then turn away now, because I’m going to be talking about them for the rest of this post!)

Imagine that I’ve got a problem with slugs.


When I wake up in the morning I can see their silvery trails all over my garden paving stones.   They damage my plants.   Sometimes they even make their way into the house.   Now imagine I’ve got a daughter who is terrified of slugs and freaks out every time she sees one in the house and it takes me ages to calm her down.   Then one day I walk downstairs in bare feet and step right on one.  Yuk!  Enough is enough.   So I decide to do something about it and I get a “slug guy” round to see if he can help me get rid of them.

I tell him all about how much the slugs are bothering me – all the things I’ve mentioned above.   And he tells me that yes, he can help me get rid of the slugs, not a problem.   But he’s also a gardener and after telling me that he can get rid of the slugs he stands and surveys the garden.   He points out the weeds that are starting to come up through the paving stones and says he can get rid of those for me too, he looks at my lawn and says it’s a bit patchy and that last week he helped a lady with a similar lawn and now she’s got a healthy, glossy lawn, and while he’s doing that he’ll trim the plants around the edges and do the weeding.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

Well, actually no… those other things would be “nice to have” but they are not particularly troubling me right now.   It’s the slugs that are troubling me and he’s just glossed over them.   In fact I’m not even sure that he really “heard” me when I told him how much of a problem they are.   There’s a little voice in my head wondering if he really does know how to get rid of slugs. After all, he seems far more interested in the garden….

So what am I likely to say to him when he asks if I want to go ahead?  That’s right I’m going to say:

“Thank you, that’s really helpful, I’ll think about it and give you a call”

Hmm. I bet that sounds familiar for some of you…

Then imagine that same afternoon slug guy number two pops round. This guy takes a completely different approach.

After listening to my complaints about the slugs he empathises with my problem.  He tells me that his wife and daughter also used to freak out about slugs at his house and so he tried everything he could think of until he found a way to eradicate them completely.   He tells me that he’s going to use a special product to treat the pavings so that the slugs won’t want to come there, he’s going to put a piece of rubber around the bottom of the door to stop them getting in and he’s going to spray the plants with slug repellent.  All of it organic so it will repel the slugs without damaging the garden.  And after he’s done all that he’s going to come back 3 days later just to make sure it’s worked.

In other words all he says is Slugs, Slugs, Slugs.

And this is music to my ears!

So what am I going to say when he asks me if I want to go ahead (even if he charges double what the other guy asked for)?

I am going to say “Yes please! When can you start?”

Now as it happens this chap is also a gardener, just like the first one.   So once he’s fixed my immediate problem with the slugs, the one that is at the forefront of my consciousness, that I am most worried about and that is keeping me awake at night, he might also point out the weeds, the lawn and the paving and offer to help with those too. And of course because by then he will have fixed the slug problem, and so now I like and trust him of course I’m going to say “Yes please!” to that too.

I might even arrange for him to come back once a fortnight to keep on top of the garden (and the slugs!).

And I’ll also recommend him to all my friends who also have a problem with slugs.

A happy ending all round.   My problem is solved and he has plenty of business.

The “moral” of this story:   Remember to talk about the Slugs!

Join the Get More Clients Saying Yes! course:
If you’d like to learn more about how to turn your clients’ ‘Not right now‘ into ‘Yes please!‘, watch out for my flagship course Get More Clients Saying Yes!, which is going to be released soon.
I only run it once a year during October and November, and I’ll be sharing the details for the 2020 round within the next few weeks – so stay tuned!    (and If you’d like to be among the first to know when that happens click here to be notified)

Get started today for Free: 
You can also get started today by learning how guide a potential client through a carefully structured sales conversation that will bring them to a natural and easy “Yes” without any “icky” closing techniques, get started today with my 7 Steps to Yes! video training.

It’s a series of bite-sized videos (just 3 minutes each) that will give you a complete step-by-step structure for your sales conversations – and it’s completely FREE.  Sign up here.

"THE 7 STEPS TO YES" Watch these short videos and start to fall in love with sales

Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts


  1. Michael Shain on August 12, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Footballers always say keep your eye on the ball.
    That’s exactly what you’re saying in this blog.
    So simple yet so true, and yet so easy to get sidetracked.

  2. Graham on August 12, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Makes total sense now that I see it this way.
    Simple story very nicely illustrated.

  3. Carla Jehle on August 11, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    Catherine, this is JUST what I needed to hear this morning as I am planning for my FIRST online group session with the founding members of my brand new membership site! I am excited about it AND I am feeling overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start, what content to use first, trying to cut through the massive amounts of clutter, wanting to serve my members in the best possible way, let alone creating a structure and a culture to kick this off in the right fashion. Well, you have just given me the answer! I asked my new members three on-boarding questions. So the slugs were handed to me on a silver plate, as they each shared their #1 problem! I now know what I am going to talk about tomorrow. Thank you so much, you are a gem. Love always xxoo

  4. Mary Dunne on August 11, 2020 at 10:53 am

    I really loved this post Catherine. I will definitely be more attentive to a client’s slugs from now on. Thank you 😀

  5. Melanie Baldwin on February 1, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I love this story Catherine! Will remember to only talk about slugs in future ? (snails as well)

  6. Linda Anderson on August 2, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Fantastically memorable analogy, Catherine, thank you!

    It’s so easy to forget in the moment that the call is about the client and the pain they’re in, not about us at all.

    I might even put a pic of a friendly slug where I can see it when I’m on a call :-)

  7. Akasha Lonsdale on September 28, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Excellent post Catherine, and a great reminder to rein in!

  8. Holly Worton on September 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Fantastic post, Catherine! I absolutely love this analogy, and it makes it so much easier to remember this concept.

  9. Helen Reynolds on September 25, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Great blog post Catherine. I will remember the “slug thing” in my discovery calls. I know that my natural tendency is to lay out all the amazing things I can do for a prospective client but I’m now clearer that it is overwhelming and not focused enough for them. Their immediate problem is why they are on a call with me in the first place. Thank you for a fabulous analogy! x

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