On a quiet 2013 Tuesday night in Germany, an 1,100-pound bomb exploded… killing three men. This wasn’t a terrorist attack. The active bomb had been buried for nearly seven decades.

You see, the three victims were experts on disposing of World War II-era bombs. Reports said they had defused more than 600 bombs in their careers. But as Peter Bodes, head of the Hamburg Ordnance Disposal Unit, told German public television at the time… accidents happen.

Old, unexploded bombs remain a major problem throughout Europe. Working near such danger is a risky proposition, even for the best-trained experts. They know most of the bombs will eventually explode… They just don’t know exactly when.

My sales mentor back in the early 1980’s regularly reminded me that, “The difference between winning and losing is so slight that it’s scary.” Multitudes of salespeople do almost enough to close the sale, but fail because they miss something. I’ve done it and I’ll bet you have too.

That said, today I’ll share some of the most common miscues gleaned from admissions by hundreds of salespeople, and comments from many sales managers. I’ll attempt to provide helpful sales tips and suggestions that will help with your selling stumbles. Better to resolve them now with some tweaking and fine-tuning in order to improve outcomes, than to allow them to grow into insurmountable issues that hinder your future sales success.

REALLY Poor Listening

One of my favorite sayings is, “You will listen your way into many more sales than you will ever talk yourself into.” Listening is difficult for most salespeople, because they think they were hired to talk, right? WRONG! Best practices say to listen 80% of the time and only talk 20%.

Learn to become an active listener. This is accomplished by making good eye contact, reading body language and facial expressions, and responding verbally while listening, (seriously!, wow!, awesome!, etc.). Nodding occasionally and showing facial expressions proves you are hanging on every word. Finally, paraphrasing occasionally to prove you really got the message. I’ve written more about listening HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Ready-Fire-Aim Presentations

I’ve always said that surgery without a diagnosis is malpractice. The only answer for that is to ask more questions. Don’t be scared. Questions are your best friends. How else will you determine any pain (problems) the prospect is experiencing? Additionally questions will reveal needs, wants, expectations, stakeholders, budget, buying concerns and personal feelings. So hold your dry powder until those 10-15 questions have been asked and answered and when your discovery has been completed; only then should you present and propose. Read a couple more articles on this topic I’ve written HERE and HERE.

Conducting ‘One-Legged’ Sales Calls

Do not make sales presentations to less than all the buying power. Players will vary from residential to commercial calls and may include a spouse, a landlord, a purchasing agent, or a committee. Find out who needs to be present and ask to confirm they will be. If that’s not possible, then reschedule the sales call at a day and time when then they can be present. Don’t waste your time and effort by presenting to ‘one-leggers’ and then hoping the message gets delivered to Mr. BIG. It won’t. The price is the only thing that will reach his/her ears, not the value. Don’t risk it. There’s more on this dilemma HERE and HERE.

Answering Unasked Questions and Objections

Enter sales calls as ‘blank slate’ events. Although many will have Googled beforehand, you don’t really know what they know or don’t know. Enter the appointment assuming they know nothing about you, your services or your company. Call me crazy but don’t volunteer information until they ask.  The same goes for any objections they may voice. Don’t attempt to answer it. Answer their questions and objections with questions as to why they are raising the concern. Read more on this HERE and HERE.

———— Heads Up————

Today’s post contains links to 18 relevant articles written and published by Doug. Just imagine what you will receive when you get a copy of his book, Sell is NOT a Four Letter Word. It contains 116 topics and is 274 pages in length. Doug always provides FREE U.S. shipping.


Poor Prospect Temperament/Buying Style Skills

Every person is unique and special, but generally folks can be lumped into four basic temperament types. Two are extroverts and two are introverts. It’s critical to quickly identify the temperament/buying style of each prospect and then mirror that style during your selling conversation with each one. When you don’t it’s like speaking German to a Japanese guy. It won’t lead to a closed sale. Go back to the buffet and get some more on this topic HERE, HERE, and HERE. You really need to learn to use these strategies.

Selling Rather Than Teaching People to Buy

Everybody likes to buy, but nobody likes to be sold. The reason is that people don’t like to be controlled by somebody else. So my best advice is for you to stop selling and simply teach people to buy.

You accomplish that by listening to what prospects want and determine what they really need. Their priorities should determine whether your offering will fill their need. If not, you should admit you’re not their guy and offer to end the sales call.

People can smell a phony a mile away, and will know when you’re blowing smoke. So, remembering that questions are your best friends, use them liberally to prove to the prospect they are in control. That will relax them and keep the conversation going, hopefully toward closing the sale. And yes, I’ve written more on this topic HERE and HERE.


Shooting from the Lip

A lot of selling is “hit and miss.” Salespeople show up, chat a bit, ask a few leading questions and/or launch into a sales pitch.

Time is very valuable to all of us. You don’t need to memorize pages of a sales presentation. Follow a successful model or sales track. If you get off course, use it to get back on. Of course, I have more to say about this HERE, HERE, and HERE.



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