Archive - December 2015

Are you selling the book or the movie?



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.

Top 10 Sales Mistakes


10) Not pre-qualifying a potential appointment before you commit to going on it. I still hear people sway, “I go for the appointment, if I can get on front of them I have a better chance of selling it”. You also have a better chance of wasting lots of time on nothing but an opportunity that has a high chance of going nowhere.


9) Not allowing the power of silence. Silence is an important tool in negotiation. It is powerful because most people are so uncomfortable with it that they will speak again before they allow the prospect to answer. When you ask a question, allow the prospect to have time to think about the answer. If you don’t, you have lost control of the conversation and more importantly, some people need time to think before answering, for those people, you have interrupted their train of thought. Stop talking!


8) Not uncovering the next steps clearly enough. Some of us are sharp enough to know that we should ask what the next step is when on a sales appointment but there is more to it then that. For example if you asked the question, “If I come back with a proposal you like, what will happen next?” (good question by the way) and they say, “we’ll move forward” you would probably assume that means sign the deal…are you sure?? Move forward could mean lots of things so make sure you understand what it is specifically.

Don’t assume it means sign the deal without asking because you know what happens when you assume.


7) Putting a proposal together before understanding all that should go in it. I am floored how many people still do the show up, ask a few questions and ask for the “privilege” to come back with a proposal. What exactly are you proposing? Don ‘t get caught up in the “if I can show them all the great things we do they will buy” syndrome. They will buy what is relevant to them and only then!


6) Not utilizing relationships they have in the community to form alliances to help get them introduced to a potential prospect at a higher level then they may be able to get to alone or by just cold calling.


5) Defending your product or service. If someone asks why you did something or your organization made a particular decision, don’t defend the decision, ask why they are asking? Don’t assume you know why. You can get yourself if deep trouble that way.


4) Not asking for a referral because you are uncomfortable. This is an unbelievable reality to me. The #1 complaint I hear from salespeople is they hate cold- calling. Then get yourself out of the cold-call business and start asking for referrals. The two reasons why we don’t get more referrals are: 1) we don’t ask and 2) we don’t ask properly! You must be specific about who and what you are looking for. No one knows better the
n you what a good referral looks like.


3) Don’t set an agenda for a meeting. If you are calling on someone and you go in with the attitude that you will “wing it” you are in trouble. No one respects your time if you don’t respect theirs. Set an agenda, discuss it with them at the beginning of the meeting and get their agreement. They will also be on the same page with you and not an adversary.


  • Don’t give the “features and benefits” of your product until you know they are relevant to them. Don’t assume they are because you “know his/her industry. Assuming is a mistake in many ways. The most damaging is not letting them tell you the issues they are having before you make your recommendations. Even if they end up being the same ones. People need to be heard.


  • not Shutting up.



Website Development by: