Monday, April 11, 2011

3 Must-Have Elements for Successful Sales

Nothing brings me more discomfort than watching a salesperson struggle through a sale. Perhaps it’s worst of all when I’m the subject of the attempted sale.

As you’ve probably heard me say before, no one likes salespeople. It’s true. None of us want to be “sold.” We do, however, welcome informed consultants and advocates who can help us make intelligent decisions that create the outcomes we’re seeking.

To be seen as an expert and not a salesperson, here are three must-have elements your visits need to employ:

1. Only talk with decision-makers. If you’re happy to spend your time talking to gatekeepers, you’ll never be the salesperson you could have been. Yes, gatekeepers are decision-makers, too. But the only decision they need to make is to pass you on to the final decision-maker. Don’t be snooty. Treat all people with the respect they deserve. But know the decision-making level of each person in your journey and help them make the decisions they need to in order for you to advance in your sales effort.

2. Identify the prospect’s motivation early. Sales presentations are useless. I dislike the term “sales presentation” altogether. I can’t think of a better way to set one’s self up to be a monkey on a leash than to prance around in front of a prospect with a dog-and-pony show hoping something said will magically trigger the prospect into a buying frenzy. Ask why the prospect is willing to meet with you. Uncover the motivation, the pain, behind the person’s search for a solution. Then fix the pain. Don’t make a presentation.

3. Talk about money up front. Have you ever been in a sales presentation (there’s that nasty term), either as the salesperson or the prospect, where things are zipping along nicely only to have it all come to a screeching halt when the subject of money comes up? Nobody wants to be there. If you have real value to offer, price isn’t a problem. If the prospect sees it as such, he or she wasn’t a bona fide candidate for your product or service in the first place. If the money works, proceed with the discussion. If it doesn’t, move on.

As you confidently talk with prospects as a resource, an expert, and fixer of problems, you’ll find anxiety goes away (for both of you), more deals get done, and you enjoy your sales efforts a whole lot more.

Here’s to your sales success!

Bryan Waldon Pope


  1. With respect to the money issue, I have a friend who makes custom iron work. He is a marvelous salesman. He also never discusses money until the last moment. He talks about design and beauty and comes up with the types of railings and decor that would be perfect for the client. I have seen him get a deposit and begin the project without ever discussing money!

    I think this method works for him because he is dealing with high end clients, who can afford his services. Talking about money slows or stops the conversation and takes the client from dreaming of beauty to thinking practically.

    We've found that when we deal with high end clients, this is true for us as well. We have often begun work without telling clients the bottom line. Many times, we could charge much more for our glass work, but we don't because we have a set price structure and we don't gouge someone just because they can afford it.

    When the client is price conscious, you get signals and then we talk openly about price and how to save money. That's when we follow the advice in step 3 very carefully.

  2. Great point, David! For every rule, there are certainly exceptions. Knowing one's market is key in any selling situation.

    May I suggest that perhaps in the situations you noted the money discussion has, in essence, taken place in that there is an understanding that money is not an issue? Perhaps those words weren't spoken, but the mutual understanding is there. Maybe my #3 point is better worded, "Have an understanding regarding money/budget up front."

  3. Using a sales system that hits all your points makes it easier. There was a time in my career that I hated to talk about money, it was tough. Now there are two ways I deal with it: 1) If I an very uncomfortable or the prospect is uncomfortable I will say "I don't like to talk about money, will you remind me when we get to that point?"; 2) Since it is a part of my system when I get to that point I simply ask, "Would you share with me what you have in your budget for services like mine?"

  4. Thanks for the comment, Coach! It brings out a great point: BE YOURSELF. Seeing what is successful for others is important, but making it your own is when you win.

    Glad you got past hating to talk about money, even if it is still uncomfortable sometimes. You're experience is proof positive that there is always a solution to the obstacles we face if we're willing to see them. Thank you for the insights!