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Education resource for the group travel supplier


Tuesday, 16 July 2013 09:43

Want More Sales? Stop Selling So Hard

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Don't assume what customers need, even when they express an interest in your product.

Let's suppose you're following up on a potential client who accessed your website. You already know that the prospect is interested, so your best move is to ask questions that clarify that need or provide useful details about your product, right?


Moving directly into "selling mode" communicates that meeting your sales goals is more important than meeting your clients' needs or building a relationship, according to Susan Scott, author of the best-sellers Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership:

Rather than asking product-specific questions or (worse) pitching your product, Scott recommends opening a client conversation with questions that do not have assumptions attached to them. For example:

 • Why are we talking?

 • What is the most important thing we should be talking about?

 • What's on the top of your agenda?

You may be surprised to find that your assumptions about the client's needs and desires are greatly different than what's really going on, even if the meeting is a result of an apparent interest in your firm's offering.

Your goal should identify the real issue, and then understand all the aspects of that issue, even if those aspects lie outside the ability of your offering to address. To do this, you must ask questions that might scotch the sale. For example:

 • Is this really a problem?

 • Is there only one problem?

 • Does everyone involved understand the problem as you've described it?

These questions could reveal that the real issue is quite different from what you originally assumed and that, therefore, the solution you're offering is inappropriate for that client.  While that seems like a bad thing, it's actually a victory, for three reasons.

First, there is no better way to build a long-term relationship than by foregoing or postponing a possible sale because it's not in the client's best interest. Second, you may discover an opportunity to partner with another firm to meet the client's needs.

Finally and most importantly, discovering the real issue prevents you from wasting time developing an opportunity that either won't result in a sale or, if it does, results in an unhappy or angry customer.

In other words, selling less at the beginning of the customer relationship creates the conditions for long-term success with that customer, enhances your overall reputation and keeps you from chasing wild (and/or exploding) geese.


Written By: Geoffrey James is seeking out Sales Source readers to review advance chapters of his forthcoming book, Business Without the Bullsh*t. Reviewers get a free signed copy. If interested, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . @Sales_Source

Can't close the sale? Try a few of these simple low-pressure questions.

Good salespeople know that asking questions is the most effective way to learn about the needs of your customers. But you’ve got to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk scaring prospective customers out the door, or simply annoying them so much that they decide to buy elsewhere. 

The questions that pay big dividends are what I call “power questions.” They're friendly, they help you sell, and they don’t pressure the customer. Use these five questions with prospective customers, and you’ll see immediate results.

1. What brings you here today?

When someone enters a business, the salesperson often asks something along the lines of “What can I show you today?” But that question makes it far too easy for your customer to say, “Nothing, I’m just browsing.” That reply gives you no informationit doesn’t help you meet the prospective customer's needs. When you instead ask, “What brings you to our store today?” (or, “What prompted you to call us today?”), you get deeper insightand the opportunity to start building a mutually beneficial relationship.

2. Why do you want this product or service?

When a customer asks whether a company offers a certain product or service, many sales reps have a tendency to reply with a simple "yes" or "no." Next time, try immediately following up your “yes” by asking what prompted them to seek out this product or service in the first place. I once used this question when a prospect asked me if we had a product comparable to one of our major competitor’s offerings. “Well, we’re throwing your competitor off the account,” the man answered. That knowledge allowed me to explain that my company not only carried the product he wanted but that we could also meet the needs of this large account.

3. How will you go about making this decision?

In any sale, it is important to thoroughly understand how the purchase decision will be made and which key players are calling the shots. If your prospect answers this question truthfully, the knowledge you gain lets you tailor your approach. I once asked a materials manager how his company was going decide what to purchase, expecting him to say, “We’re going to choose the product with the lowest price.” Instead, he told me that the vice president of engineering was making the buying decision, which allowed me to adjust my strategy and focus on the company’s engineering department.

4. What is your timeline?

It’s amazing how many salespeople will push forward with a sale even thought they have no idea how important the purchase actually is to the customer. The answer to “What is your timeline?” is a good indicator of how urgent the prospect’s need is. Then, you can match his level of urgency. This helps the prospect see that you understand himand increases the chance that he’ll choose your product or service.

5. What would you like to have happen next?

This powerful closing question is easy to use andcruciallyisn’t intimidating for the prospect. When you ask the prospect what she’d like to have the next step be, you’re basically asking for the sale in a non-pressuring way. The answer will uncover any still-unanswered objections the prospect has, and if there are none, you’re clear to bring the sale to a close. This final question is especially helpful when a purchase decision has been repeatedly delayed.

Source: Written by: John Treace has more than thirty years' experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry. He spent more than ten years specializing in the restructuring of sales departments. His new book is Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.

Monday, 17 June 2013 06:53

Two Sentences That Engage Customers

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To get customers interested in what you're selling, make your sales message about your customers.

You're excited about your company, right? You're proud of your products, right? Therefore, your best strategy when talking to a customer is to tell the story of your company and its products with excitement and enthusiasm. Right?


Customers don't care about your company. They don't care about its products. And they certainly don't care about your personal feelings toward your company and its products.

What customers care about is themselves.

The failure to realize this simple fact about human nature is why most companies have sales and marketing messages that make customers shrug.

During the past few years, I reviewed hundreds of sales messages. In almost every case, these messages are all about the seller and the products being sold. They leave it up the customer's imagination to figure out, "What does all of this mean to ME?"

Which leads us to the two sentences that are the most important to your customers and prospective customers.

1. "Our clients hire us to provide [benefit(s) to the client]."

2. "They hire us, rather than somebody else, because [something unique that the competition doesn't have but the customer values]."

Notice that both of these sentences position you, the seller, as a catalyst that helps the customer achieve the customer's goals—and then positions your firm as the only catalyst that can do the job right. Express what's being provided, from the customer's viewpoint.

In other words: To engage customers in a conversation about the possibility of hiring you or your firm, make the message about the CUSTOMER, rather than about YOU.

Source: Geoffrey James writes the Sales Source column on, the world's most visited sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be released by Grand Central Publishing in early 2014. @Sales_Source


  1. Sometimes your best effort isn’t good enough to land you the deal.

  2. You can’t learn if you aren’t willing to listen.

  3. The only way to get other people to care about you is to care about them first.

  4. You can’t find opportunities for success if you aren’t looking for them.

  5. Just because social media is free doesn’t mean it gets you results.

  6. You have to change the conversation before you can close the deal.

  7. The difference between success and failure is just a decision to keep trying.

  8. If you market like a “person” you have a better chance of getting people to buy.

  9. Just because all your competitors are doing it doesn’t mean you should, too.

  10. You don’t have to build rapport to build trust. Chit-chat is overrated.

  11. Pretending like you never make mistakes doesn’t make it so.

  12. Working smarter is a result of hard work, not a replacement for it.

  13. Your big moment usually comes before you’re ready for it.

  14. “Apologies” and “Thank You’s” are the best way to create a conversation on your terms.

  15. You have to give a lot to get a lot.

  16. Spend less time networking and handing out business cards. Be amazing. People will find you.

  17. Once you provide the answer, people stop listening. Leave clues instead.

  18. There is no easy way out for big problems, but there is always a way out.

  19. Negativity isn’t reality. Not for you. Not for your critics.

  20. You don’t need permission to start marketing to a prospect.

  21. Being “professional” is key to getting prospects to want to do business with you.

  22. Working smart will get you more applause. Working hard will get more done in the long run.

  23. Sometimes bad things happen to good people with great strategies.

  24. Just because it hasn’t worked out already doesn’t mean that it never will.

  25. Anything that is easy to do isn’t going to lead to success.

  26. Ironically, the quickest way to become an expert is to defy industry experts.

  27. The number of people who believe in you doesn’t correlate to your chances of success.

  28. Being the smartest person in the room doesn’t necessarily make you rich or wise.

  29. You don’t have to be “up for the job” to finish the job.

  30. If you haven’t failed a lot, you probably aren’t going to win a lot.

  31. Experience is what you get just after you need it.

Source: Dan Waldschmidt

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