Tag - sales training

Don’t ask to get married before courting your prospect!

Well it’s the love season! Valentines day is around the corner and love is in the air.
What would you say to a friend who said he met a great girl and after 2 dates he
was going to ask her to marry him. Though I don’t actually know your answer I
am guessing most of you reading this would say, “are you crazy?” you don’t
know enough about her, you think you are a good match but how do you really
Additionally, if you are going to ask someone to marry you, isn’t it expected that
they will say yes since there is a courting period? If there were red flags you
could pick them up early and either address them or get out before it’s too late.
Makes sense right?
Of course it does. Then why in sales, are we getting to know very little about our
prospect and asked them to marry us so soon? Somehow we think in business
courting is not necessary. Well it is! A prospect needs to understand you, your
organization, get questions answered and you need to truly understand what
their real needs are, not just the ones they tell you upfront they want or need.
You need to know the whys. They whys help you customize a true
recommendation for them that reflects all of them, not just what they initially told
you wan the issue they were trying to resolve.
The courting period is the time where you really get to know the prospects issues
and how they are affecting them and their organization. I don’t mean taking them
to lunch and to play golf. That is fine but its not what building relationships are
truly about. The idea of courting should help your prospect self-discover that
he/she wants to do business with you. Yews you can tell them why early on my
giving them your ‘dog and pony’ show of all of your features and benefits of how
you can help them or worse, how you have helped ‘others just like them’.
Imaging using that line on a date….
Here are some tip in being successful in sales and frankly in dating….
1) Slow down. The courting part takes time. It is also if done well, some true
discovery is done and will help really come up with the best plan in the

2) Ask great questions to get your prospect talking. I’m not talking about
questions like, “wouldn’t be helpful if you had a solution that would print
your widgets faster and for less money?: That is a leading question and a
very silly one. Do you really think they can’t see through that? No. Ask
open-ended thought-provoking neutral questions. Think of these questions
like this, if you didn’t have an ulterior motive to sell this person, what would
you ask them to try to help them with their issue? Those are the right

questions. They show that you care about the entire picture and not only
what revolves around your particular solution.
3) You must truly understand what the Clear Next Step will be at the end of
the meeting or phone conversation. Not just “Ill call you next week with the
proposal” or “Ill send a proposal to you on Tuesday”. NO! You must get a
clear date and time that you both agree to and have it on the calendar!
Your responsibility is to get the agreement of that next step, not suggest it
to them. There must be skin in the game, and this is how to test
that…BEFORE you propose anything!
4) Make sure that you have a full understanding of what they will do if you
decide to get them some recommendations based on what they need and
how working with you will solve those issues. In other words, don’t buy
the ring until you know she’ll say yes.
So is sales really like dating, yes and no. I will tell you it is more like it then
you think. Understanding people, TRULY understanding people is the key to
a successful career in sales…..Unless you have enough money to buy lots of
engagement rings.

Are Your Salespeople Riding the Wave?

The worst seems to be over but our economy is, inevitably, cyclical. Like the rest of us, it has its ups and downs. Yet, when we are in a down cycle, do you get nervous about the economy? And do other factors external to your industry, including world events (such as elections for example) cause you to tighten your belt?

Cycles in the economy and moments of national or world uncertainty are not a time for either anxiety or celebration but a time to be realistic and acknowledge that what goes up, must come down. I certainly don’t mean to be a downer but if we learned anything in the last few years I hope we learned that you need to be lean and mean all of the time, not just when the going gets tough. Your sales team needs to be able to respond to this volatility. If it does not, the competition’s sales team surely will.

During these last few months, with things seeming to lighten up, the opportunities are more fruitful. I am sure your sales team feels pretty good about themselves lately but what is the truth? If your salespeople are accustomed to having sales fall in their laps, especially newer ones, they have yet to be put to the test.

With the buying opportunities seeming to now be coming along more frequently, are our salespeople really good or just reaping the benefits of a comeback?

Right now, your sales team could be the weakest part of your company. It may not seem that way since you have most likely seen an upswing in sales, even slightly and are feeling relieved. Well don’t!

Many salespeople are showing their feathers like a proud peacock but fail to recognize that their sales in these times simply may be coming to them along with the ebb and flow of the economy but with very little true sales ability involved.

A lot of companies wait until desperate times. Then the layoffs and cost cutting begins. Smart companies do not wait. They know that they should evaluate their sales force now, finding out who has effective selling skills to utilize in the slump that may lie ahead.

When assessing your team, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the necessary elements for selling in a good and not so good economy?
  • Which salespeople have those elements?
  • Which of your sales people may not have the necessary skills, and why are we waiting to replace them?

If salespeople are not strong enough to make it through tough times, they probably do not belong on your team at all. Evaluate their skills. Go on a sales call with each salesperson and see how he/she performs in the real world. Another option is to have them each take an assessment that shows the skills they truly have—and don’t have*.

Hold your ground and act as though the economy were flourishing. Keep in mind that the economy is cyclical. When things are good, act as if you were looking for ways to build revenues and cut costs. Do it now, that way, you are not caught off guard when things recede —which they always do. Now is when real sales professionals can shine.


For further information on this subject follow the link http://www.schulzbusiness.com/interview-questions.aspx


* If you would like to take a free assessment for a salesperson on your team, email me at greta@schulzbusiness.com and I will send you the link.

Are Salespeople Born or Made?



Are salespeople born or are they made? I hear this question a lot.   Surprisingly, the answer is “made.” Believe it or not, there are learned characteristics that help catapult success in sales.   And they aren’t what you think.

First and foremost, when it comes to sales success, the two most important things you have to have are commitment and desire. You have to have the desire to be successful and the commitment to do whatever it takes to get there.

That being said, the other characteristics are based on beliefs and influence the ability to sell.

Here they are:

  • Takes Personal Responsibility: Someone who lacks this trait always blames someone else (the prospect, the competition, the economy) for his or her lack of success. He has an answer for everything and an external explanation for why he didn’t get the business. So how do you test someone to see if he’s got this trait? Ask this question:

“If the economy shifts downward fifteen to twenty percent, and your goals were based on last year’s figures, how should your goal numbers change?”

  • Can Control His or Her Emotions: Someone who lacks this trait takes things a prospect says personally. He gets excited over comments the prospect makes and does a lot of defending instead of learning why the prospect said what she did. To test for this trait, ask this question:

“If a prospect say’s she’s unwilling to work with us because of a bad past experience, but you know the company is different now and has corrected the problem, what would you do?”


  • The Way Your Salesperson Makes His Own Purchases: This is a huge clue telling you how about that person’s selling style. A salesperson that comparison shops will empathize with prospects who do the same. Typically, this person’s number one factor in getting a “good deal” is the lowest cost. That’s trouble. So how do you test the trait? Ask this question:

“When you’re shopping for a large purchase, what’s your process like?”

There’s a whole bunch of other characteristics, but these three are interesting because most employers don’t look for them. Instead, they look for someone who’s outgoing, a “real people person”. Not only is that a not what to look for, but it can hurt you because the salesperson’s underlying beliefs are unknown.

Oh, by the way… when you ask the questions posed above, these are the answers you want to hear:


  1. They shouldn’t. Not at all. When the economy is good, salespeople are often “order takers”, rather than being true salespeople. Since it comes easy, they often forget (if they ever had it to start with) their real selling ability. The salesperson has to find a way to make sales happen and not accept that external factors are responsible. I wonder how your mortgage company would if you said this:: “The economy is down, so I’ll only be paying you 80% from now on.” Let me know how that one goes!
  2. Find out why and what happened. The wrong answer begins with “Yeah, but…” and defends something that not only doesn’t work, but also doesn’t get to the root of the real problem. For you to find out, you have to dig deep and ask the right questions.  
  3.  Their process should include things like deciding what he wants, going to one or two stores and    buying it that day. Why is that important? Because the more research your salesperson does and the more comparison shopping they do overrides what you teach them about getting a commitment from the prospect. They believe in looking around and comparing and if it kicks in, they’ll empathize with the prospect that says, “This looks good! But I need to look at a few other proposals.” Translation: “I’m not interested in yours.”

So no matter how friendly and outgoing someone is, don’t confuse it with the characteristics of a good salesperson. If he has some of the above characteristics, he can be taught to sell—even if he’s the quiet and reserved type!





SELL NAKED/ Telling isn’t Selling!

Jim arrived at the office of Bob Simmons, President of the ABC tool and Dye Company early so he could sit in the parking lot and review in his head what he wanted to say. Jim practiced each step of his presentation in his head and exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. He knew that his power point slides were perfectly in order and were just want he needed to land this account. He knew what this company needed because he has called on other companies like this and helped them just like he can help this one. Jim took a deep breath and walked into the building, “I’ve got this one down” he thought and proceeded in the door.

Once the pleasantries were over Jim got right down to business. “Mr. Simmons, I have been with my company for the past 3 years and our company has been in business for over 50 years. We are the leader in our industry and have worked with lots of companies like yours and have been able to meet the needs that you have”.

“Well, that’s why I agreed to meet with you, Jim. We do have a need for a product like yours and this might be a good fit” stated Bob Simmons.

“I’m glad you did” Jim said proudly. “Our product line has the best reputation for least failures on the job therefore downtime is at the lowest in the industry which will keep you up and running more efficiently”.

“Great Jim, but our service department isn’t sure if they can retrofit your model into our existing equipment”.

“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that we do it all of the time and with companies who have bigger problems then yours. As a matter of fact I brought a power-point presentation that I believe will help you understand why we’re number one in the industry”.

After the presentation, Mr. Simmons said, “Thanks for the presentation Jim but I am still a little concerned about our existing equipment and the retrofit we’ll need to do. We can’t afford any downtime with the change or production could be compromised”.

“Mr. Simmons, I understand that is a concern but we do this all of the time and don’t worry we can handle it.”

Fifteen minutes later Jim said goodbye to Mr. Simmons and promised him a proposal in a few days. After he left, Mr. Simmons buzzed his assistant and said when that proposal comes in just round file it.

What happened? Jim ignored the real issue that Mr. Simmons wanted addressed and kept telling him what he felt was important. Guess what? No one cares what you think is important, only as it applies to them. Jim missed lots of opportunity to really deeply understand what his prospects issues were and assure him that not only he could solve the problem but help Mr. Simmons understand how.

The result? Jim may very well have the best product for Mr. Simmons but he didn’t see it that way. When a prospect gives you a hint of a need address that need by asking really good pointed questions for example;

Tell me more about the retrofit concern?

Have you had that issue in the past in looking to change products?

What happened?

What did you do it address it at that time?

How did it effect production and at what cost?

These types of questions would not only have given Jim a real insight to the issue it would have also given Mr. Simmons confidence that Jim knew and could address HIS issue.

Quick wrap up;

  • Stop telling about how great you and your company are (no one cares)
  • Ask what some of their concerns are and then dig deeper to truly understand the issue
  • Don’t be so quick with a solution, even it if is correct, you haven’t earned the right so early in the process to give one.
  • Listening is you best sales tool, not your product knowledge

Like this? Want some short weekly tips??


Click here for a list of great questions to ask!!




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.

Don’t Take Shortcuts with your Sales


Ryan, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and had gotten behind on work that he needed to finish before the end of the day. Then he got a call from Wayne, 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,” thought Ryan “This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today.”

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

Ryan 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.

Wayne’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 Ryan back next week.

Ryan 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? Ryan got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Wayne was sold. All he had to do was give him the info he needed, then write it up. He got fooled into assuming the sale without doing the work. He never got Wayne to talk about why he was looking now with seemed now 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.images

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

In Ryan’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?” Of course, you’re digging in to find out what is really going on. This is so important to gather 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.

Remember it’s not about the sale, it’s about the process.




To Train or Not To Train?


Important vs. Effectiveimages-1

Training is an intrecle and ongoing part of sales force development. Not only initial product training but ongoing sales process training to include; prospecting, calling at the top of an organization, closing and the activities it takes to get there consistently.


“To have growth in products, you need to have growth in people”

  • Reinemund, CEO PepsiCo. Inc.

Training is an interesting subject. Most organizations believe at least at some level, that training is important. And most organizations believe that they have training in place. Typically when they say they have training they are referring to product training. Product training is the training of how the actual product(s) works. Thought it is important to understand this information, we tend to spend lots of time learning the ins and outs of product knowledge but not much time on how to take it successfully to market.

Most executives believe that “presenting” the features and benefits of the product and showing the knowledge of their product will sell it. It is only one part of the process and if I told you it was the less important of the two I am sure you would disagree…but it’s true. The other and most important part of the process is the ability to ask the right questions to get your prospects to “self-realize” that your product or service is a fit for them. This is not a natural way to approach selling; therefore training is an essential part of success in a sales organization.

A majority of sales organizations say they don’t have a sufficient amount of time to train and develop their sales teams. Another “reason” training doesn’t happen is that executives believe the sales manager has the responsibility to train. That is only partly true because training properly takes specific time and energy placed on the training task.

Often organizations overlook their greatest potential source of power-the power to increase sales performance by developing their people.

Executives attempt to solve sales training issues by hiring an ‘experienced’ salesperson. Someone that has been in sales before and just let them ‘do their thing”. This is an issue because we don’t know how successful they really were in the past and no matter how closely aligned your products or service is to what they sold before, it becomes difficult for them to break out of that mold.

If this issue is present it will show itself in many ways; one is each sales person is working as an island, meaning they all have their own way of selling, their own process-or lack there of. The difficulty with that is management can’t appropriately coach each individual without a process. Though each person has their own personality and their own style, a consistent process helps keep the entire sales organization on-track and adds the ability to forecast and coach for continual success. If your team is presently not hitting any of the benchmarks you’ve set look at their process. Is it broken?


Greta Schulz is President of Schulz Business, a Sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and has a Second Edition coming out in the fall2015.  She works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com

To Train or Not To Train?

What is Value?

Business people standing with question mark on boards

Business people standing with question mark on boards

You know when I ask that question in a group of people, I get lots of different answers. Most of the people in the room tell me things like ‘we give great customer service; we give people a very competitive price; we have knowledge that others don’t; we’ve been in the industry for a long time; we’ve always been rated number 1 or number 2 in our industry rating.’

It’s disturbing to me when a sales person says to a prospect, ‘we work with lots of clients like you’ or ‘we’ve worked in your industry for a long time and we’re specialists in that industry, so we know what you need.’ That is extremely presumptuous. And I think when you say that to someone, you are immediately putting him in the category of ‘there’s nothing special about you and your business is just like everyone else’s.’ The fact is that maybe that is true, but as soon as you make someone feel that way, it changes the consultation and immediately turns you into ‘just another sales person’.

There is actually only one answer to the question, ‘what value do you bring?’ And the answer is very simple – it depends. It depends on the perception of value from person that you are speaking to because value does not come from you. Value comes from the other person that you’re speaking to. This is why features and benefits selling doesn’t work anymore, because the benefit of a particular feature that you have may have nothing to do with what your prospect believes the benefit or value is to them. The receiver of the benefit will perceive it’s value. They will decide if it’s a benefit or not.


How do you get value? How do you understand what is valuable to another person?

You have to ask them some really good questions. For example, one question you might ask is, ‘what is your biggest challenge when it comes to ________? If you have success with a new product or service in that area, what would that success look like?

What would be the advantage if you could utilize a product or service that would allow you to ________?

The questions that we ask, number one, allow people to talk about what they deem is most important to them. Number two once they are telling you the points of importance you can then give back to them a “customized” solution that is based upon what they said they wanted. So what have you done here. Well not only have you truly listended to the prospects issues and concerns, you have come up with a solution based on those paerticluar needs as THEY see them, not you. So when someone asks what your ‘value’ is, or what makes you better then the next guy, don’t answer that question until you fully understand what they want. And even if you do understand, don’t answer it anyway, the information they tell you will deem much more valuable if they have told it to you and then from that information, you come up with a forgone conclusion.

Don’t Take Shortcuts in Sales

Tim, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and had gotten behind on a proposal that he needed to finish before the end of the day. Then he got a call from Gene, a prospect who introduced himself by saying, “I’ve heard great things about your accounting 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 immediately into my system.”

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

Then Gene said, “I need to know about pricing and availability. And tech support is important, too. Tell me how that works.”

Tim went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $8000 with 30-day terms.

Gene’s response was unexpected. He said that $8000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to consider the purchase more carefully. He’d call Tim back next week.

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


Diagnosis: Tim got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Gene was sold. All he had to do was give Gene the info he needed, then write it up. He got conned into doing a presentation without getting Gene to demonstrate why he was so excited about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level.

Prescription: Don’t be lured into taking shortcuts. Don’t mistake the prospect’s enthusiasm for your product or service as a sure sale. Take the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before you make your presentation. In Tim’s case, a couple of quick 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. Mind if I ask you a couple of questions?” Of course, you’re probing for pain and one of the most important things to find out is the financial impact of not implementing a solution. Having discovered the financial impact and, assuming it was significant, you will find that the cost of the solution disappears as an objection.

Don’t take shortcuts! Don’t assume anything. Get the prospect involved at an emotional, not an intellectual, level. Use the system, qualify completely, and get the sale.

lazy salesperson

Website Development by: