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The "My Guy" Philosophy and Why It's Wrong

Author: Andy Thompson

Have you heard of the “My Guy" philosophy? It goes like this: Our customers seem to have “their guy” or “their gal”—and as long as their business partners are providing simply average service at a competitive price, they will continue to utilize the services of that vendor. Wrong!


Have you heard of the “My Guy" Philosophy? It goes like this: Our customers seem to have “their guy” or “their gal”—and as long as their business partners are providing simply average service at a competitive price, they will continue to utilize the services of that vendor.

Another ideal is the “bench philosophy,” which states that once a salesperson finds a prospect with his guy or gal, he should keep in constant contact via various means to position himself first on their bench (to make himself or firm their next logical choice).

While these two ideals sound fine, they are wrong. They are so wrong that if you follow these “rules,” you are limiting yourself as a salesperson, and you’re doing a disservice to every prospect you ever will call upon.

Let me explain. There are many problems with the My Guy Philosophy. First, think for a moment about your own client base. How many of your own clients truly love you? (I mean, would go to war for you.) The clients I’m describing are those who will say when a salesperson calls, “No thank you, we’re happy, we don’t have time, I’m busy, my current vendor is a family member, etc.” Would you guess half or 75 percent?

With all due respect, depending upon the quality of your services, you probably have no more than 25 percent of your client base that is truly in love with you and your company. The other 75 percent will say they have their guy, but if called upon by a professional salesperson in your industry, they can be converted from prospect to client for this “new guy.”

Think about this: If three out of four of your clients are always out on the market, would it not seem reasonable that 75 percent of your competitor’s clients are on the market as well?
Another problem with the My Guy Philosophy is that clients have a hard time telling the truth when it comes to answering a salesperson’s questions. In an initial qualifying interview when asked about one’s current vendor, it is very easy for a client to simply say, “They’re doing a great job.” It’s easy, it’s painless, and it’s an easy way to get this salesperson out of their office. Usually during the initial interview, a few surface questions are asked, the prospect says, “Just fine, they are great, no problems…etc.”

If one’s mindset is the “My Guy Philosophy,” they will quickly figure this prospect has their “guy” and end the sales call by explaining the bench philosophy. They will tell the prospect that over the next few months they will receive propaganda from their company and a call every few months to make sure that they are still happy with “their guy.” The sales call quickly ends and the prospect moves on with their day and the salesperson is happy that they have positioned themselves firmly on this client’s bench.
The truth in the above scenario is that the salesperson probably was weak in identifying the prospect’s pain and blew an opportunity to gain a client. Let’s replay the above. The salesperson starts the appointment with the all-important rapport. Once comfortable she begins asking questions that traditionally are issues with service and the prospect’s industry. Since no relationship is perfect, if enough questions are asked, soon the client will identify a pain. However, this is not the real pain; this is only the sneeze that indicates a full-blown flu. In order to diagnose the fact the prospect has the flu, the salesperson must begin asking a series of questions that lead the prospect from sneeze to realizing they are sicker than they have ever been.

Let me be clear: This process is not enjoyable for a prospect. It’s painful for the prospect; he or she will at times get upset, emotional, and may even curse. Realizing that you are sick when you thought you were well is very uncomfortable, but if the medicine for that sickness is sitting in his or her office, the prospect will quickly realize that making a change will make them well again.
The My Guy Philosophy is a wimp’s approach to professional selling. It is a philosophy that will allow for a decent living of any salesperson in any industry, but will not propel that person to excellence and into the top performers of their industry. The philosophy is based upon the fact that people buy intellectually—when in fact, people buy emotionally. People don’t buy one’s proposals, product knowledge, or even price; they buy the feeling that what the new person offers heals their pain.

They key to the “Non-My Guy Philosophy” is finding a prospect’s pain, healing that pain, and then showing them love until the next professional comes along and identifies the fact that you’re not so perfect either!


IIABA member Andy Thompson ( is an agency principal, sales coach, technology guru, and part-time winemaker.

Copyright 2005 by Anson Ross Thompson. Used with permission.

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