Sales Training: Day 110 – Show then tell

This is a very simple point but one that’s often overlooked.  There is a grocery store near my house that I frequent.  If I’m looking for an item there and I cannot find it, I usually just ask one of the store employees.  What happens next is the important part of this lesson.  The store employee drops what they are doing and walks me to the item.  This is a subtle, but effective sales strategy.  Aside from me feeling important and good about their service, it solves an issue for me; time.  I usually squeeze going to the grocery store in between my other tasks for the day.  I want to get in and out as quickly as possible.  They know that about me, and most of their other shoppers.

As you’re giving a demo or presentation, one of your prospects may ask you a question about an additional feature or some additional functionality within your product.  Don’t simply say, yes we can do that.  If you were planning on showing that later in the presentation, and there are other features that need to be shown first because they build on each other, say “Good question. I am going to cover that in a bit.”  However, if it is a standalone feature just go ahead and show them how it’s done.  If you don’t, they’ll be thinking about their question when you want them focusing on what you are presenting.  They may also think you are hiding something.  Relating this back to the grocery example – you are getting a request of something that is important to them and showing and/or acknowledging it, and “walking” them to what they want, right then.  You also start to build trust with this approach because it shows you are listening and are considerate of their time.

An exception; if the decision maker is on demo and asks to see something, stop and show it right then.  And compliment them for asking the question.

Tip:  Set the stage for your demo by having your questions written out and mentally placed at the right point in your presentation.  This also gets them engaged and makes the session interactive.

sales training
Sales training

Sales Training: Day 109 – (Most) Prospects hate confrontation

Most normal people don’t go to work wanting a confrontation with a pushy salesperson.  Who would?  They actually don’t go to work looking for a confrontation with anyone; which should give you a little insight into your prospect’s psyche.

You need to be continuously working on your rapport-building skills.  If you haven’t already, please go through the lesson, Day 4 – Building rapport, now and come back to this lesson.   By establishing rapport with your prospect, they learn to like you, which is essential.  With rapport, you have a much better chance of success than with confrontation.

This is also true the farther along you are in your customer’s buying cycle.  Let’s say you’ve been working on a sale for a long time (whatever that is for your business).  Now, there’s a problem on their end.  Your prospect knows he’s taken up a significant amount of your time and is hesitant to tell you whatever the problem is.  Maybe they yanked his budget.  Maybe he overstated his importance.  Whatever the issue is, your prospect is being non-committal.  And he doesn’t want to tell you because he does not like confrontation.   That is his personality.

This is why you must ask pertinent and prepared questions from the start of the customer’s buying cycle.   You don’t want to get to a place in the sale where you are heavily invested, and get blind sighted.  This is also why rapport building is so important.   Part of rapport building is learning about your prospect as a person.  You need to know their personality so that you can ask the right questions and then study their responses.

sales training
Sales training

Sales Training: Day 108 – What to say when you’ve lost the sale

I haven’t won every sale.  Neither will you.  I was once in a very heated competition.  After a huge effort on my part the prospect awarded the deal to my competitor.  When they first sent me the email letting me know they selected someone else, I was furious.  I wanted to pick up the phone tell them they were crazy, and worse; stupid.  In my heart of hearts, I believed we had a better solution for them.

You’re obviously going to do your best and try to win each deal, but some are just going to get away from you.  Once the deal was finally irretrievable, I wrote my prospect the following email:

Hello Beth,

Thank you for the note.
I want you to know I have appreciated getting to know you and your team.
I certainly wish you the best with your new project.  If I can be of service in the future don’t hesitate to contact me.


Louie Bernstein

Did I get the business after this email?  Nope.  But what I did was leave the door open.  I didn’t act like a sore loser, which nobody likes.  Let’s say, for example, the implementation goes bad with my competitor’s product.  Or, it turned out their product wasn’t what they had promised.  Do you think my prospect would have called me back if I had acted like a spoiled brat?  No way.  So, keep your cool and be a professional.

And yes; not for this particular sale, but this type of email has gotten me business after the initial sale was lost.  Copy both the email and the attitude.

sales training
Sales training

Sales Training: Day 107 – Objection: We’re happy with what we already have

Here’s another dagger into the heart of the average salesperson.  Master this objection and leave your competitors behind. Here’s the best part about this objection – your prospect is telling you they’re already using something similar to what you’re selling.  You don’t have to spend time educating them on why it’s wise to use a product like yours.  They’re already sold on the concept.  Now you need to help them understand why it’s a better idea for them to start using your product for the same purpose.

The first thing you want to do when you hear this objection is cushion it and affirm how smart they are for using a product like yours.  “Kelly, I’m really glad to hear you see the value in outsourcing your sales function.”  This one sentence will lower your prospect’s guard and make them more receptive to what you are saying.

From here there are several things you can say and/or questions you can ask after cushioning this objection:

  • Most of our current customers used <competitor’s product> when we first contacted them. (My favorite.)
  • If there is anything you could change about the way they do business, what would it be?
  • You mentioned you were just “happy.” People who use our service brag about us to their colleagues.  Can I tell you why?
  • <Competitor> is a fine company. Can I tell you why we win so often when competing against them?
  • Are you open to being a good consumer and willing to consider an alternative?

Selling to a company where the competition is currently embedded can be very difficult.  However, handling it with the right questions will give you a shot at removing the incumbent.  And that can be the sweetest sale of them all.

sales training
Sales training

Sales Training: Day 106 – Pin the cushion

When a prospect gives you an objection the natural thing to do is react and tell them how wrong they are.  That’s what amateurs do.  NOT professional sales people.   You need to let your prospect’s objections bounce off you like water off a wet duck.

Remember that objections are a prospect’s way of:

  • Looking for more information.
  • Trying to get clarification on a point.
  • Being difficult.

When a prospect throws an objection at you picture a couple boxers in the ring.  When one of the boxers throws a punch that barely hits or grazes the other boxer, the recipient feigns a response.  He looks at the other boxer with, is that all you got?  It’s very similar in sales.  You need to acknowledge the objection was thrown and show that it hasn’t hurt you by cushioning it and responding – with a question.  Your counter punch to the objection is a well prepared question.   The key is to not take the punch too hard.  You want to relax and cushion the blow.

Some examples:

Objection – We’re happy with what we’re using.
Cushion – It’s always good to have a smoothly running operation.

Objection – Your price is too high.
Cushion – Price can certainly be a consideration.

sales training
Sales training

Sales Training: Day 105 – Listen to this

This could easily be the first lesson in the Sales Getters Sales Training Course.  If you aren’t a good listener, you’ll never reach your full potential in sales.   There is nothing as self-defeating as not listening to what your prospect is saying to you.

There are several keys to good listening:

  1. Look the person who is speaking in the eyes. Don’t glare, but consciously make eye contact.  This will signal to the other person that you are paying attention; even if you are not.
  2. While the other person is talking don’t be thinking about what you are going to say next. Not only is this a bad habit, you’ll miss what they are saying.
  3. Occasionally, repeat back all or part of what they said or asked you. Keep it conversational and don’t be a parrot.   If your prospect says, “Louie, I am going to have a tough time getting this past the Operations Committee.”  It’s okay to reply with the question; “Max, Operations can be tough.  How do others get things through them?”  Max then knows you heard him.
  4. Listen for tone and inflection. It’s true that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.  Your prospect may be telling one thing and meaning another.  You have to listen carefully to detect this nuance.

After developing good listening skills you can sometimes tell what a person really means.  I had prospect tell me, after we had sent a proposal and agreed on the date to review it, that he had not had time to look at it.  I could tell from the tone of his voice he had no intention of looking at the proposal yet.  When I pressed him with, “Larry, you’re really not interested enough yet to start going through our proposal, are you?”  Larry replied, “No.”


sales training
Sales training

Sales Training: Day 104 – Customers versus prospects

Do you act differently with your prospects than you do with your customers?  Don’t.

Put yourself in their shoes.  What if you act one way during their buying cycle and another way after they’ve given you their money and their confidence?  During the buying cycle you’re calling every day, bringing gifts and getting your prospects all the resources they need.  Don’t stop doing those things.  You probably don’t have to call as often because there won’t be as many details to cover.  However, while there may be fewer calls, your calls should still deliver the same amount of value to your customer.

This approach is simply good business because:

  1. You want your existing customers to buy additional products and services from you.
  2. You want them to tell other prospects how good you were after the sale.

You cannot be one type of person before the sale and another type of sales person after the sale and have a profitable, long-term career in sales.

sales training
Sales training