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Perception or Reality?



My son recently told me a story that I felt was really interesting. I wanted to share it because I think we can all learn some things from this story.

He explained to me that he has a friend who works at an art gallery. This particular gallery hosts art exhibits where people come get cocktails and walk around viewing the art.

Sometimes, artists are there to answer questions or do demonstrations. At times the gallery invites an artist to come, set up and paint while they are at the show so people can actually see them in action.

For one particular show, the artist agreed to come, and he requested a large black canvas that he could paint on. The rest he would supply.

My son’s friend, who was the gallery assistant, pulled the plain black canvas from the back room and set it up on an easel. She had a chair next to the canvas and posted the artist’s name with it.

About 4 p.m. on the day of the event, the artist called, saying he had an emergency and had to cancel. In all the craziness, the assistant forgot to take the canvas down, so it was left there throughout the show that evening.

At the end of the night, they have a service where, if you bought a piece of art, the organization will take the art into the back room, wrap it up, bring it out to your car and put it in for you, or deliver it, if necessary.

My son’s friend, who was outside working the deliveries, and a man were standing there for quite a long time. So, she said, “Can I help you sir?”

He said, “Yes, I’m waiting for my piece of art to come out.”

She replied: “Well, let me help you. Which is it?” He told her it was the black portrait.

She said, “Which one?”

He said it was the all-black modern piece. And the man explained that he paid $700 for that and really liked it.

She scratched her head, walked inside, and had someone wrap it up for him and bring it to the car.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ethics of this, but what I found so interesting about this story is that perception is reality, and what happened was because it was in an upscale art gallery and, nicely displayed, the man perceived the blank canvas to be a piece of modern art.

Perception is such an interesting thing. His perception was that was a piece of modern art. Because it was in an art gallery, presented on an easel and surrounded by other pieces of art, his perception was not only that was a piece of art, but he liked it.

So, what do we learn through this? I think what we learn is that, in most cases, and most things that we do and sell, people really think what they want to think, no matter what you tell them.

What’s important here is to make sure that your brand — in other words, what your company stands for or what you as a salesperson or entrepreneur or professional stand for — should be the best quality it can be.

If you are going to see someone in person, you should be dressed as if that person is the most important person you could ever meet. You need to be researched and prepared, and everything you do has to be professionally done.

When it is, you’re perceived as a professional. You’re perceived to be of a higher quality than your competitors for no other reason than perception.

So, how are you being perceived?

Are you a Goal Dictator?

Warren Buffett is a truly brilliant man. Of course this is my opinion and may not be everyone’s, that’s fine but here is why I say that. Warren Buffett is a billionaire many times over. He has truly earned all of his own money and is well respected because if it.

There are many people, including him, that feel that the amount of money he has is crazy over excessive and certainly not necessary.


Since he does feel that way, not only has he committed to give half of his fortune away to charity, he has enlisted other billionaires to do the same through the Giving Pledge;


“The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the worlds’ wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”


What do I like about this? Well besides the obvious, which is helping people in need, I like it because it allows these billionaires to do something good, great in fact, by choice. Choice is a very important part of the human psyche. When we are given choices and opportunities to make them, we feel empowered and we have ownership.


How can we adopt some of this thinking into our own organizations today? Simple work with your sales people in helping them develop their own goals. I’m not talking about setting charity donation goals, though that is a great idea, I am just talking about the idea of choice.


Right now we are starting fresh with a new year, new goals. Often companies have revenue goals and from that, trickle down these numbers to their salespeople to create their goals. That would be great if that worked but I would bet money that most of you would tell me that the majority of your sales people didn’t reach that goal in which you wanted them to hit.


Why? There are several reasons. One that you can change the outcome of right now is to give them some ownership in creating their goals.

Try this. Start with how much money they need to make as well as how much they want to make. There is a difference. When I say have to make that is to pay bills and live their life. What about the other “stuff”? The stuff that gives them the motivation to do whatever it takes. What is that? If you can help them uncover it, everyone wins.


Additionally when you dictate that number, even if it could get them the “stuff”, those things that do motivate them to do whatever it takes, that exercise must be done so they can come to that realization themselves. That is important. Carving the path for someone instead of letting them carve out their own is massively different. You must let them go through this exercise. Find out what the underlying needs and wants are?


If you want help, here is a free download to walk you through it. To get started begin with you. What do you want? Why do you want it? What would it mean if you achieve it?


Remember when someone creates their own destiny and has worked through the process of how to get there, they are empowered, engaged and feel good that they made their own decisions.


And maybe if this goes well, create your own giving pledge among your sales people as well. How much would they like to give, to whom? Let’s have them share that in a sales meeting!



A World Without Salespeople

If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? I think most would say yes simply because when buyers/prospects think about “a salesperson” they don’t typically think about someone who brings real value to their organization. Why? Because most salespeople have done a poor job of really helping the prospect. Salespeople are much more concerned with showing our “value” to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible rather than diagnosing each prospects issues and trying to solve them.


Most salespeople bring to their prospects lots of information. Interestingly, information is something any buyer can gather from other sources. At the end of the day, you as a salesperson must ask yourself, “Am I really bringing value to the prospect or just information?” If you are bringing information, then you’re wasting your time, your company’s time, and your prospects time. You might as well just email your buyer the information and then go play on Facebook.


As a salesperson, if you can’t honestly and fully understand the issues you’ll need to help your customers overcome, then you really have to begin questioning the role you play. With the advent of technology and communication, the role of the salesperson has changed. If you as a salesperson have not recognized and embraced this change, then you are nothing more than a walking brochure.


Prospects and clients alike don’t want more information. They want solutions. Unfortunately, because prospects are often far too invested in their own issues, they don’t even know what their specific issues are that you may be able to solve. This is the role the salesperson needs to play — the role of helping identify the problems, whether obvious or obscure, and turning them into opportunities you can solve.


So how do you go about identifying problems? You as the salesperson must become an investigator – someone who is determined to find out what really is happening in an organization, industry and global marketplace. Asking questions is the key. “But Greta, if I show them our solutions and how we have solved them for others, they will see how we can help”. Really? How’s that working for you?

Start this process by shifting your focus. Instead of just delivering information to your customer, begin to ask more questions. When I ask clients to do this exercise, they almost always come up with these leading questions. For example; “if I could show you how to save up to 20% on your ____, is that something you would be interested in?” Seriously? When you develop a question, make sure it passes the “duh” factor. If the answer of the question could be “duh, of course”, don’t ask it.

A few things to keep in mind when developing good, thought-provoking questions are;

  • Research their organization in advance. Find out all that you can about them and the decision makers too. It’s so easy today to gather information so don’t skip this step. They will have much less respect for you if you don’t.
  • Use open ended questions. I know you’ve heard this before but it is imperative to keep this is mind. Help the prospect to think by asking questions that get them to think about the answer. Questions that begin with; “What are your thoughts on…”, ‘share with me…”, “What would happen if…” are good examples. Anything that helps them engage in a discussion with you is the basic foundation of a good question the more they are talking the more they are beginning to sell themselves. Success comes from them self-realizing they need what you have, not by you telling them.


  • Once you feel you have gathered enough information to tell them why they should use your solution, don’t. You are still not ready. Begin by summarizing what you have heard and what solutions they would need to solve the issue. Not a summary of what you can do but what they need. It must be summarized from their words and a solution they have expressed they are looking for. For example; “So what it sounds like is that you not only need a faster widget but fast enough to keep up at the accelerated pace that you are expecting to continue. Is that right?”

When you can clearly identify ways you’ve helped your buyer achieve either of these outcomes, then you will know you’re no longer the type of salesperson that buyers love to hate. Plus, you’ll be growing your bottom line at the same time. And that’s a lot better than simply doling out information!

Follow Greta and Schulz Business HERE!

Play at your Best Regardless of Your Competition.

My client Bobby was telling me a story yesterday about his son. His son is 12 years old is a very good tennis player, he tells me. He explained to me that when his son goes to the tennis camps, which he does in the summer and a couple times throughout the year, he plays with other kids that are at his level. They’re serious about tennis, they love tennis, and they want to win. And when Bobby’s son goes there, he does really well. Then during the year, when he plays at school, he doesn’t play so well, he misses balls, hits shots that are so easy for him during camp are much more difficult for him at school. So the interesting thing about that is what Bobby said to me is “When I watch my son play at school as opposed to at camp, I notice the difference. And I said how can that apply to me in my business?”

What Bobby said was he felt that setting yourself goals to compete at a higher level forces you to compete at a higher level. It also allows you to want to be the best that you can be. When you’re playing with people, competitors, associates, that aren’t that good, aren’t that serious, and aren’t that competitive, you just don’t have the motivation to reach to the next level. So Bobby said what he thinks that means to him is that he has to set his goals higher than he had set them before, and it doesn’t matter what his other associates have set their goals at, he needs to set his at that next level. It also means that he needs to play his best all the time, and even when something becomes easy for him, he still needs to play at the highest level. He needs to be going on all eight cylinders; he needs to be using a process that’s much better on the process all the time, not just when he’s in a difficult sales call. So I thought that was interesting that he tied both together. So what could I learn from that. Well, I thought it was first of all very introspective of him and interesting that he thought about how to take that situation and put it into business for him. But even more importantly, I thought what was truly interesting is what happens when you have others around you that compete at a higher level. We’ve all heard the saying associate yourself with smart people, and you’ll be smarter. Well, it doesn’t necessarily mean it happens through osmosis, but when you have people around you that thrive, people around you that want the best, you are going to naturally rise to the occasion. And how do you do that with a bunch of associates in your organization? Well, you can’t. You can’t control other people, but what you can control is that you’re always competing at the highest level.

Now, the most important thing is to make sure that you are always hitting the top level of your game all the time, no matter whom you’re competing with, no matter how easy you feel it is to make that sale because you are always competing with yourself. If you are always competing at the highest level, you will always get referrals to bigger and better opportunities, you will close more sales, and you’ll have the pride that you should have knowing that you did the best that you possibly could all the time. Keep that in mind. The next time you go see a prospect you say, this one’s going to be easy.


Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the best selling author of “To Sell is Not to Sell”. Greta does corporate training for fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs. For more tips go to: “”


Are You Tracking the Right Stuff?

tracking photoI just finished speaking to a large CEO group this morning and I asked a very simple question. “What are you doing to track your sales people?” Several of them didn’t have an answer, but one of the men in the room spoke up. He owned a manufacturing company and said, “We track the amount of quotes that they send out on a monthly basis.” I said “Ok, tell me about that.”

“Well, we require all sales reps”, and he has sales reps around the world, “to put out a minimum of 20 quotes per month.” I said, “Ok, why do you do that?” and he looked at me with curiosity, and said, “What do you mean?” “That’s how we track what they’re doing and we know that if each one of them puts out 20 quotes, they’ll typically get six back with interest, they’ll negotiate and usually close two of them”. I said, “So you’re closing 2 of every 20?” “Well, not every 20, but pretty close, that’s pretty much our track record” I then asked “How much time are they spending on the other 18 that they don’t close?” He said, “What do you mean? They don’t spend any time on them.” I said, “Who does their quotes?” “They do.” “Who puts them together?” “They do.” “Who sends that out or presents them to the clients?” “They do.” “Who follows up?” “They do.” “Then ok, so have you ever tracked the amount of time they’re spending on the ones they don’t close?” “And a 2 out of 20 ratio is 10% and so if you think a 10% closing ratio is a good idea, I would make sure that you are hiring very very inexpensive sales reps, and just get them to throw enough quotes out there. You certainly don’t need professional sales people because you’re not looking at professionalism when you do it that way.”

This is such a common occurrence, when I talk to leaders of sales organizations. So many of them don’t have any tracking at all. So many of them just say, “I hire professionals, and they get out there, and if they don’t meet their revenue number, I get rid of them.” “Ok, that’s one way of going about it, but you’re supplying no tools to them, no coaching, no mentoring, no leading and that’s not the right thing to do. You take a big chance there.” So I do admire the fact that he’s tracking something, though he is tracking the wrong things. You don’t want to track the amount of quotes, proposals, whatever you call them in your world. You don’t want to track those, because anybody can throw a bunch of proposals and quotes out there and see what sticks. You might as well sit back in your office and sent ‘em on out. What you need to do is not send any proposals or quotes out until you actually have a conversation with somebody. It is imperative to pre-qualify every opportunity, confirm that they have issues that you know you can solve with your product or service, you have had some level of discussion about investment so not to spring that on them in the proposal and finally a true understanding the solutions that you’re going to provide. Most importantly, and most commonly missed, you know when they get that proposal, what they’re going to do with it. Who’s going to be looking at it? Who are they, and if they’re happy with the proposal, what is going to happen on the other side of that?

If you don’t know those things, and your sales people don’t know those things, you shouldn’t be putting proposals out in the street. Depending on what kind of company you have and what you do, you could be spending a lot more time and money than you think developing recommendations and proposals, getting quotes, putting numbers and things together.

It is a huge waste of salespeople’s time to throw a bunch of quotes and proposals out there and just keep following up on them until you either exhaust the client or the salesperson.

Maybe, they do buy 2 out 20, it’s probably less than that. Either way 2 out of 20, a 10% closing ratio is shameful, absolutely shameful.   Your proposal should never get into the hands of anyone until;

Number 1, you know what their issues are, you know what their needs are and you know you can solve them and you have an idea of what solutions you will use to solve them.

Number 2, You have had a discussion of what the approximate dollar amount would need to be for you to come up with a solution to solve their problem.   You don’t have to give the number but you had to have some level of investment discussion and

Number 3, in my opinion most importantly, is never give anyone a presentation or a proposal or a quote until you know exactly what they’re going to do, once you presented to them, if they like it. We all know what they’re going to do if they don’t like it. So if they do, what is their process?

The CEO who owns the manufacturing company is a very bright man. He has processes in place for everything and I admire that, but the process he has in place for tracking his salespeople is poor, and if I were grading him on it, he would get an F.

Make sure that you keep your proposals back; you hold your proposals and don’t show them to anyone until they qualify and deserve to see them. Proposals never sell. The sales should be almost complete before you make your presentation, and your presentation or proposal or quote is merely the proof statement of what you already discussed. If that’s not what is happening you’re doing it backwards.

What Makes a True Leader?

follow-leaderBeing a leader is different then most of us think it is. Most leaders are actually managers in disguise.

Sarah was excited to be promoted to sales director. After all she has been in sales for almost 8 years and has always been at the top of the leader board. She knows she will really be able to help the other salespeople with their sales and they already look up to her since she had always been a top performer.

Colin comes to Sarah one day and asks her what to do about a customer who doesn’t seem to be making a decision though they really like their product. “I’ve tried everything” confesses Colin. I’ve offered free delivery, a 10% discount, I’m just stumped” Sarah asks, “can you get a meeting with the decision makers?” Colin says he thinks he can and Sarah says, “good, I’ll come with you and we’ll get it done!” Colin knows Sarah will and is eagerly dialing the phone while at the same time spending the commissions he is confident Sarah will help him win!!

Real Leadership is not managing. Telling someone what to do is absolutely not leadership. Neither is doing it for them. This reminds me of that old saying, “Take someone fishing, they’ll eat for a day. Teach them how to fish they eat for a lifetime” The idea of leadership is to get someone to self-realize what they can and should do make some decisions on their own. Once they feel good about what the answer is that they are looking for, they will continue to use that information and not have to “check in” with you before making that decision.

We often believe that to be a good leader you need to be outgoing and charismatic. That is often not the case. If you remember the old EF Hutton commercial. If you’re not familiar it is a room of people that are talking and talking but all of a sudden EF Hutton has something to say and everyone stops to listen. Often what happens is being a bit humble, a very good listener, it seems to really work well when it comes to leadership.

Here are some tips to create true leadership;


Stop being a parent to your salespeople. If you think about how we grew up, we asked questions to our parents as curious kids do, and as parents, they answer our questions immediately.   As parents they wanted us to know the answer. That’s fine but we are not parents to our salespeople. Our job is not only to get the answer to them but to get them to engage with us by thinking about the answer themselves. When they engage in the process with us, it becomes more their idea.


Help them feel empowered. Try this. The next time a salesperson says what should I do about … or how do I … try this, “if you couldn’t reach me right now and needed to make a decision, what decision would you make?” The key here is whatever they say, confirm and if its not right you can say and in addition to that you may want to say…”

You need to be a soft place to fall so if their answer is wrong using this process, you cant get upset with them making the wrong decision or they’ll never feel empowered again!


Let them be involved in setting goals. I am always astonished when sales managers/CEOs set goals for salespeople without any of their input. If you want to get them engaged and feeling that the goals are not just for what the company dictates, which by the way are most often never met, but this process should have the sales person involved in the process by not only looking at revenue goals but what are their goals? What kind of money do they want to make and why? What are the activities they will commit daily, weekly and monthly to achieve them? Give them the responsibility to come up with what they feel their goals should be and have them put the proactive behaviors behind it. Then review it together to see if its real. If it doesn’t meet your standards then push on them a bit. “oh I feel you are better then that. Don’t sell yourself short, lets relook at this..’


Look realistically at their motivation. Are they making more money then they ever have before? If so you often find that your salespeople are satisfied with the amount of money they are making but you aren’t. Meaning the commissions they are making may be great to them but they aren’t hitting the numbers you need them to hit. Motivation will come from them, not you so make sure that there is always a carrot and if the carrot stops working, you may need to change the ‘horse’.


You can’t motivate anyone to do anything. You can only give them an opportunity to motivate themselves. It may be easier to just do it yourself in the short term but remember if you do that now, you will always have to do that. Burnt out much?

Experiential Learning, my Top 6

PrintHow fast the years pass. I am always so shocked when it is holiday time…again!

My kids were just pulling on my leg and now I can barely reach their shoulder! I try to reflect a bit about my life personal and business and being a trainer I’m amazed that as much as the world of business has changed, some of the same mistakes are being made by business development professionals. I have 6 that I was writing down in examining content creation for training:


  • Searching for customers is different today. Networking is the true key to finding and keeping customers but most people do it wrong. Networking is not for direct prospecting, “hey do you guys use promotional products, here’s an example..” NO! Instead I say go to an event and look for Strategic Alliances, people that you can refer business back and forth to as opposed to hitting you prospects hard. We all know building business on referrals is the best way to do business so lets network for good alliances that you can refer business to and that is a good source for your referrals.


  • Tell the prospect it’s OK to break up….Rejection is a result of trying to sell someone your product or service as opposed to tell them you what you are calling about, let them know it seems that because of what they do you could potentially work together, but (pull back) you don’t want to assume that you are a g0od fit. What you’d like to do is ask a few questions to see if the two of you are a fit and if not, we decide it’s a NO then we only wasted a few minutes? Sound OK?

This allows you to give a NO as an option right upfront. Then you have asked for it as opposed to a prospect pushing you away and that is the rejection.



  • Be a reporter. An example of the best salespeople today are reporters. Reporters don’t have a specific agenda besides learning as much as they possibly can about a person, subject or situation. They do their research, ask great open-ended questions and always listen in between the lines. They are trying to dig out all of the information they can to recreate it in a great story. Sales people fall short because when they hear something they want to jump n what they heard and try to solve it with their solution. When you stop someone from telling you more about their situation to sell them, it is usually too early to do so and you loose the sale.


  • Research is important but not for the reasons you would think. Research should be used for credibility purposes but most importantly to create good, quality questions to engage your prospect in conversation and truly understand their needs. Additionally research the heck out of an organization or person before you call them. Refer to that information you learned to form a good question, not s ‘salesy’ one.


  • Cutting prices is almost always a result of one of 2 things. 1) The customer doesn’t truly trust you/your product or service so there is only price to use as a differentiator or 2) You haven’t truly understood the need for the product. I know need seems simple but it isn’t. What are they trying to say, what impression are they trying to leave, how do they want to be seen? What are they using it for? There are lots of questions to not only understand what a prospect needs but the true deep-down ‘whys’. Asking questions will let you also gain credibility and trust but not selling and truly asking and listening…


  • Listen and shut up!! Wow! If I could teach people that are in sales/business

development to ask questions and listen there would be a lot more success in business! Write this down; WAIT (Why Am I Talking)?

Telling isn’t selling…but it comes from a good place. We are excited about what we represent and want other to be excited too but excitement doesn’t sell, questions and true engagement does.

Long ago we were taught to ask a few questions and when you hear a “ buying signal” jump in and tell them you can help with that and how. NO!

When you ask a question, wait for the answer and whatever the answer is, especially if it may be something your product or service can help with, the best next question is, “tell me about that”, then SHUT-UP!!!




Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips go to and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to

Does your sales team OWN their goals?



This is the time most of you are creating goals and objectives for nest year. It is the time you crunch numbers to decide your revenues for the upcoming year. Are you doing it right?


I had an in depth conversation yesterday with a sales VP of an aeronautical products company. We were discussing how good he was at gathering the sales data on how many customers they gained, the percentage that each customer spent as to the overall budget, what the top products ere and so on. He then explained to me how he created the budgets for the next year for each of the salespeople. He said he had been creating salespeople’s budget this same way for several years


I asked a few questions here and got that look that you get when you speak to your dog and he obviously doesn’t understand you. My questions were:


  • Have each of the salespeople made their budget numbers?
  • Why or why not?
  • How did you involve them in their sales budget decision?


I admire someone who has the ability to create spread sheets of probability when creating goals and budgets. The problem is there are actual people involved in making this happen and just because someone puts it on paper doesn’t make it so.


In a perfect world we can come up with a logical budget on paper based on statistics and data. Great. Then we have to actually get our salespeople responsible for making it happen, make it happen. There of course are several reasons why we often have a short fall here and this article isn’t long enough to list them all but one of the most important is to create ownership with each sales person and the goals you create.

We all know that when we are a part of a decision, when we have skin in the game when creating goals, we are much more likely to make them happen because they are ours.


This year whether you have come up with goals yet or not, lets get your salespeople to define what success is for them. What do they want and need to earn? Why? What will they have to sell and how much will they have to sell to reach that goal? What do they have to do, activity-wise to reach that number?


Having your salespeople each come up with their own “business plan” since it is really their business as well being that they have say in the economic outcome, will help create buy in and therefore ownership of their business.


Give them the basics of your data that you have for their territory. Give them everything but your budget numbers for them. Ask them to take a week or so, review all of the information and create a goal and a plan that they will follow for next year to reach the goal they have set. Have them present that to you and any other senior executives and tell them to be prepared for questions about their plan.


Typically you will find that they are harder on themselves they you would be and they often come up with a higher number for their goal they you will. If not, push them back on that and ask them why so low?


It is also important that their goals are attached to something that is meaningful to them so not to just put some pie in the shy number to impress you. If you would like a form to download to give to them that will help them figure out how much money they want and need to make here is a free one for you;


Give your salespeople all of the tools to be successful but don’t expect them to follow your goals without involving them by making them theirs as well.


Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of a new book “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information and free sales tips go to Follow her on Twitter @SchulzBusiness and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to


Are Your Salespeople Taking Shortcuts?

shortcut imgLogan, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and gotten behind on work he needed to finish before the end of the day.

Then, he got a call from Tony, a prospect who introduced himself by saying: “I’ve heard great things about your engineering software package. I saw a demo about a year ago, and was not in a position to purchase it at the time. But since then, it’s become very apparent that I need to integrate it into my system.”

“Wow,” Logan thought. “This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today.”

Then, Tony said: “I need to know about the cost, the tech support and how soon it can be installed.”

Logan immediately went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $12,000, with 30-day terms.

Tony’s response was unexpected. He said that $12,000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to think about all of this more carefully. He’d call Logan back next week.

Logan did a double take. “What just happened?” he thought. “This sale was in the bag, a sure thing. He really needs it and now he’s thinking it over? He said he needed the software right away.” And that was the end of the call.

So, what happened? Logan got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Tony was sold. All he had to do was give him the information he needed, then write it up. He got fooled into assuming the sale without doing the work. He never got Tony to talk about why he was looking now, with what seemed to be a real priority about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level, without any real understanding of the true need.

So, what happened? Logan was lured into taking shortcuts. He mistakenly thought the prospect’s enthusiasm was as sure as a sale. No matter. You need the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before giving out information or making your presentation.

In Logan’s case, a couple of questions would have made a world of difference. He might have said: “Before we discuss pricing, help me understand why this software is so important. I want to make sure the application is correct for you. Would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions to better understand?”

Of course, you’re digging in to find out what is really going on. It is so important to gather this information before you discuss price so you can truly have an understanding of not only why they want the software, but the consequence of not installing it.

Once you give away your information – whether on the phone, in a presentation or in the form of a proposal – you have given up any form of control and are literally at the mercy of the prospect.

Are your salespeople going for the quick sale or are they really understanding the true need behind it?

Are you selling the book or the movie version of your service?



I’m going to try my best to do a great benefits statement so the customers know exactly what we do.” We put so much time and energy into coming up with this big introduction/benefit statement, but, honestly, it’s not as important as any of the other things that we do.

This thought is on the mind of most salespeople. They feel that they have to have some great, two-sentence explanation of what they do, and that will help sell it.

Now, it is important to summarize what you do, but that is not what sells. Let me illustrate this point. Think about the last time you read a book, and then saw the movie. Which is typically better? Well, almost everyone I talk to says the book is better. Why is that?

When you read a book, you have the ability to create what the scene looks like, what the characters look like, even the voices and sounds therefore the story becomes yours. When you put something in your own brain, you are able to create what it looks like, and what it sounds like, and what it feels like to you. You attach more directly to the story because it becomes your interpretation of the events – as opposed to some producer and director’s interpretation. This is the same reason why telling someone what you do and the “features and benefits” of your product or service is much less powerful then asking great questions and getting them to see how it can help through their own eyes.

When you tell someone why they should work with you, what the benefits are, what the advantages are, those are your interpretations of the benefits or the advantages that you offer. When you ask really good questions to get people to think about what is important to them, it is their idea.

Ask if they had success in a particular area, or how you can change things. It is this kind of thought-provoking questions that allows a prospect to see the advantage, on their own, your product is supposed to bring. So, asking questions is really much more important than coming up with an important benefit statement.

There are a couple different types of questions. Big-picture questions are thought-provoking questions that get the customer talking about the overall situation. For example, talk about the goals they set for the organization, and where they are along the line of those goals. “Right now, it is (plug in the date) and if it were one year from today and you were to look back and say, it has been a very successful year, what would have to have happened?”

Another might be: “What are the things that you fear the most over the next 12 months, and what are you doing to avoid them?”

The key is to ask big-picture questions and get people to think. The successful questions ask people to think about the answer and put themselves in that place before they do. Big-picture questions are typically used at the beginning of the conversation to get a prospect to open up sooner. You listen to the answers carefully and move through the conversation successfully.

The second type of question are what I call advantage questions. They come directly from what you believe are the advantages of your product or service. For example, if you sell advertising in a very high-end magazine, you might say: “Talk to me about how you get in front of high-income individuals now.” Then a follow-up question like: “If you had the ability to get in front of more of them, what would you say?” Again it forces them to think about not only being in front of potential clients that they’re trying to get in front of, but it has them think about what the message would be. It begins to develop where you’re going to go with your recommendations or proposal in the end.

So, rather than you telling them what they can do with your product or service, this allows them to come up with their own picture of how they might use your product.

Remember, when you go to the movies, it is purely the director and the producer’s interpretation. When you read a book, it’s your interpretation of those words, and you have the ability to create your own picture. It’s much more effective when it’s yours.


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