Buy The Shrimp Farm: The Power of Negative Selling

When we first started franchising Proforma in the late 1980s, most people in our industry scoffed at our business model. So, we reached out to people outside our industry to start building our franchise concept.

In the late 1980s, there was no internet! So we relied on advertising in business publications and attending “own your own business” expos. At one of these expos at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, I met a recent immigrant named Rawi. He was a very nice man, however, he could barely speak English and was very unfamiliar with the ways of doing business in the U.S. He requested a private meeting with me for later that evening to learn more about Proforma.

During that meeting, he told me that he really loved the Proforma opportunity and had narrowed his decision down to joining Proforma or buying a shrimp farm in Vietnam for $1 million.

Wow. I liked him and I had no idea he had that type of money to invest, but I worried he would really struggle in our business. So I advised him to buy the shrimp farm. He became very upset.

The best I can tell, it was because he didn’t want to be rejected. He didn’t want to be told not to join Proforma. He didn’t want to feel like I was telling him he was not qualified. So, from that moment forward, he became obsessed with joining Proforma and owning a franchise with us. I eventually relented. I hoped his passion and determination would lead him to success.

As most would guess, he never made many sales, and eventually left Proforma and bought the shrimp farm.

What I learned from my interactions with Rawi is that negative selling can be very powerful. I was not purposefully negative selling with him. I was trying to be helpful and honest.

The truth is, most people want something no one else can have. It’s why there are so many different types of cars with so many colors and options. Negative selling can be very powerful when used correctly. Making our prospects qualify to do business with us can be very effective. The key to any effective negative selling approach is that you have to be fully honest. Prospects can easily sniff out non-authentic negative sales approaches.

Do you want positive results? Sometimes it’s best to be honestly negative to get positive results.


Read past articles in Greg’s Million Dollar Mindset at Promo Marketing Magazine

AboutGreg Muzzillo, Founder of Proforma

Greg Muzzillo started Proforma as an industry distributor in 1978. The company grew quickly and in the early 1980s Proforma was recognized for three consecutive years on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing companies in North America. In the late 1980’s Proforma introduced its membership program to enable distributors to retain their business ownership and independence, and to share in sales and marketing resources, purchasing power with industry suppliers, one back office including all billing, accounting, vendor payments, cash flow, computer systems and more. Today Proforma has more than 750 members with over $500 million in sales. Proforma has over 100 members in its Million Dollar Club and more than 40 members in its Multi-Million Dollar Club (With sales ranging from $2 million to over $26 million). In 2014, eight Proforma members were named to Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 List of the 5000 Fastest Growing Companies.

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