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Professional Achievement Group, Inc. | Rockville, MD

Selling Professionals

Most everyone knows the importance of defining their goals, but very few actually take the time to determine precisely what they wish to achieve, and then build a plan to accomplish just that.

How many times has this happened to you? You got a promising referral, or scheduled a conference call, or showed up at an initial meeting with someone who seemed like a perfect fit for your product, service, or solution. Then, about five minutes into the discussion, you found yourself experiencing a “disconnect” of some kind with that seemingly perfect prospect. And the relationship died.

Many selling professionals are of the mindset that it’s inappropriate to ask clients for referrals until after the clients have experienced the outcomes promised by the product or service. Their thinking is that if they deliver the intended outcomes, and do so in an exceptional manner, clients will be more willing to provide a name or two when asked.

Has this ever happened to you? You had an initial meeting with a prospect. You asked that prospect what seemed to be all the right questions. You had what felt to you like a good conversation, and based on that conversation, you scheduled the next meeting. You sat down at your computer. You prepared a proposal...

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in discussion with a prospect about the possibility of working together. The meeting is going well. You’re working your way through all the questions you know you’re supposed to ask at this stage. You’re paying close attention; you’re taking notes. One of the questions you ask strikes a nerve with the person to whom you’re talking...

If you start with the right people…for the right reasons, deal with potential problems in the early stages of the process, rigorously qualify opportunities, and ensure that you and your prospects are on the same page at each stage of the process, you’ll be able to complete the selling process in a shorter period of time… which in turn means more sales… and more profit or commissions.

Did you ever have a conversation with a prospect who suddenly, and for no apparent reason, became unreceptive to perfectly good advice?

Have you ever given a presentation to a prospect who seemed ready to buy… but then found that, for some mysterious reason, the opportunity went nowhere once your presentation was complete?

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in the middle of your second or third “good discussion” with a prospect. Everything’s going great. The prospect seems engaged and positively disposed to work with you.

Has this ever happened to you? During an initial discussion with a prospect, you make it a point to review your pricing information. You put everything right out on the table. The prospect tells you the price you mention “looks fine” (or is “OK,” or “seems fair,” or is “in the ballpark,” or any similar piece of vagueness). The prospect then tells you to put together a couple of samples, designs, or prototypes.

How good would you say you are at listening to your prospects?

Most selling professionals I talk to rate themselves pretty highly in this area. Yet most, sad to say, fail the Tooth Fairy Test.


With everything else that goes on during the day, your shouldas become a distant memory - lessons that could have been learned, but were lost instead. Invest 89 cents in a spiral notebook and keep it on the corner of your desk. (Alternatively, you can use a visually driven note-taking application, like Pages or NoteBook+ for the iPad.)

With tough competition, many sales professionals are more tempted to offer discounted prices and fees in an attempt to win the business. Have prospects asked you for discounts, promising to give you the business if the discounts are granted?

Run from weak words and feeble phrases. People may forget what they hear, but they will remember what they see. That's why someone once said, "The most effective orator is someone who can make people see with their ears." The well-chosen word has the ability to create a vivid, and unforgettable, mental image.

You’re meeting with a prospect. You’ve asked all the appropriate questions to uncover the prospect’s problem, concerns, desires, goals, and expectations. After fully analyzing the situation, you announce with no hesitation whatsoever, “No problem. I have exactly what you need.”

Your mindset has more to do with your success than almost any other single element. There are plenty of selling professionals who possess extensive product knowledge, have numerous influential business contacts, are well-spoken, and have appealing personalities. Yet, their sale performances are average… sometimes, only marginally acceptable.

Maybe something like that has happened to you. Perhaps you had a “good initial discussion” with a prospect, and, based on that conversation, you agreed to invest time and energy gathering information, working up prices, and putting together your presentation.

"Don't burn your bridges" reminds you to make sure that you can always go back the way you came. Perhaps to get a reference or a referral from a former prospect, or maybe even go back to work for a company where you were once employed. This can be good and practical advice. In business today, you need all the allies you can get. But here are some bridges you should burn!

Following up on what a prospect is going to do is good. Unfortunately, some selling professionals don’t even make a single follow-up attempt. Here, Bob has gone beyond what can possibly be considered good follow-up methods. Bob is a pest and deserves to be treated as pest.

Prospects often create a box of questions, and most selling professionals fall right into it!

Everyone who is selling anything has been in this situation over and over again. And, unfortunately, 99 percent of those selling have compelling information and web sites for just this occasion - when the prospect requests it.

It is absolutely amazing how many statements a prospect makes that a selling professional will automatically assume are questions and/or objections. In our story, “Your price is too high,” is a statement. It is NOT a question. The selling professional does not have to answer it.

Tim was convinced that if only he could somehow get in front of more prospects, he’d do a lot better. But it was always tough to get anyone to agree to an appointment. He started collecting all the excuses.

Some selling professionals love group presentations because it allows them to “trot out” all the goodies that have been created to wow the audience. These people suffer the disease of “ringing bells and blowing whistles.”

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if Meg had immediately responded to what Charles was looking for. He was looking for pricing and availability on services . A reasonable response would have been to ask what services and then do the standard buyer/seller tango.

Understand that at this point in the conversation, Charles and Ingrid have no idea of what Steve charges nor have they heard from any of his current clients. The most they know about Steve is that someone they appear to trust, Cathy, a prospect who did not buy, felt strongly enough to arrange an appointment. Yet they have just both agreed that Steve could be in their future for at least six months.

You don’t win basketball games by fancy dribbling. You win them by putting the ball through the basket. You don't win at professional selling by missing the opportunity to close..

The STORY: Tim was in trouble, and he knew it. He had a hundred things to do by the end of the month, now three days away, and nowhere near enough time to do half of them.

It’s like this every month, he thought to himself. No matter what I do, I’m always behind. My closing rate goes in the toilet because all that’s on my mind are all the things I should be doing. It’s a vicious circle. I promise that if I get through these three days, it will be different next month.

How often do you get caught in the trap of telling a prospect all about your unique benefits only to find later that the prospect really wasn't interested in buying? Or, bring up a feature and benefit only to learn that the prospect has no need, whatsoever, for that feature?

How many times have you heard this from a prospect? It doesn't sound like they are in real need of your product or service. They're just collecting your information and expertise. Wait a minute, isn't that called "unpaid consulting?" Do you really want to supply information and expertise without getting paid, or at least getting a commitment from the prospect about what they will do with your information!

Today's Sales Meeting Minute

As professionals that sell, we know that we have to get in front of prospects if we are ever going to have any chance to close a sale. Unfortunately, the pressure on those who sell to get in front of prospects is demanding. Most salespeople will do almost anything to get in front of prospects, often sounding like they're begging for a meeting, such as, “I will be in your area on Wednesday morning and I just want to drop off some information.

When first meeting new prospects, they immediately begin to form an opinion of you. They are instantly influenced by how you are dressed, your tone of voice, your body language, and many other factors besides what you actually say. In fact, the actual words you use have very little effect on the prospect's opinion of you, your company, and your products.

Psychologists and linguistic experts tell us that when two people are having a conversation, 55% of the message communicated comes from body language. During your last sales call, what message did your body language communicate to your prospect?

How many times have you emailed, or left information for prospects, and they called you back the following day and said, "This is the greatest stuff I've ever seen - when can I see you?" Sending or leaving literature gets you nowhere.

What happens the first time you try a new selling technique? It's usually uncomfortable and doesn't go as smoothly as it did in the seminar or how you imagined it would go. Often it results in a less than satisfying outcome. There are physiological reasons for this discomfort and awkwardness.

Nick’s meeting on Thursday morning was one he had been working on getting for the past three months. This was the one. After two previous meetings, this was the one where the decision was going to be made.

One of the issues that salespeople struggle with while dealing with the prospect's budget, is the affordability of their product or service. Salespeople who sell a product or service that they can't personally afford frequently have a subconscious block which prevents them from talking about money. Also, because their product is too expensive for them, they are unaware that they assume it's too expensive for their prospects. A good rule of thumb to remember: Never look in your prospect's pocket.

There are several conceptual roadblocks that selling professionals must overcome while dealing with the prospect’s budget. One of these issues is dealing with the affordability of their own product or service. Those who must sell a product or service that they can't personally afford, frequently have a subconscious block which prevents them from talking about money. Also, because their product is too expensive for them, they are unaware that they assume it's too expensive for their prospects. A good rule of thumb to remember: Never look in your prospect's pocket.

The STORY: Bob was preparing for his first appointment with Mr. Winfred P. Smerthing III, senior partner of the law firm Smerthing, Jones, Riccardo and Blarney, one of the largest, and most prestigious firms in the state.

Into the brightly polished briefcase went the oversized four-color company brochure -- fourteen glorious glossy pages that described every product and service his company offered. And to top it off, Bob added the complete introductory PowerPoint presentation and the video CD outlining just how thorough his company was.

Let's face it. Prospects want your information and expertise. They want to know what you know without making any commitments in return. Prospects have been trained by the vast majority of salespeople to feel entitled to your valuable information.

Most selling professionals hate hearing the word "no." Granted, everyone that sells wants to hear the word "yes," but a "no" is okay. What isn't acceptable is a "maybe," a "think it over," a "call me next week," a "you look good, but not now." These may appear as a glimmer of hope but they are just a polite "no." When a selling professional has done a lot of work for a prospect, even if the prospect really doesn't want to buy, the prospect feels guilty saying "no" and thinks they are being courteous by leaving you with a glimmer of hope.


“Hey, Greg,” called Janet when she saw him walk through the office door at ten o’clock, “late night partying again?”

“Lovely Janet,” he responded with a grin, “as you well know, I was working last night until one am.”

“Sure,” she replied, viewing the pile of new leads on her desk, “and I suppose you have no time for these?”

Today's Sales Meeting Minute

It’s not often that I purchase a replacement chain saw. In fact, the last time I bought one was 15 years ago. Back then, when I had a back that worked properly, I fancied myself the lean, mean lumberjack. In keeping with my “he-man” self-image, I purchased the biggest and loudest chain saw available.

How many times have you left a sales call thinking something was going to happen only to find out later that your prospect pulled a vanishing act? Or, maybe you thought you heard the prospect say he was emailing, or faxing, a signed contract, but it never showed up.

Does either Bob or the prospect in the above dialogue have any real idea what the other one is talking about? Or are they both just filling up time with meaningless phrases that sound like there is substance?

Everyone has a preferred “channel” of processing information in a buying situation. In general, there are three major methods: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

Just as the prospect has a preferred channel, selling professionals also have a preferred channel to dispense information. It is also one of the three.

How often have you been in front of prospects who just sit there staring at you with little or no emotion on their face, and are barely audible in their one or two word comments? It probably drives you crazy and you just want to walk over, shake them and scream, "Say something - anything!"

We've all been there before - face-to-face with a prospect who demands to know the "bottom line" up front. When you're working with a client or prospect that insists on jumping to the bottom line.

A key bonding and rapport technique when you are face-to-face with a prospect is to mirror and match the prospect's primary sensory dominance, body language, and tonality. This works at a subconscious level.

Each statement communicates the same message: “This isn’t going to be a very good use of your time – get a seat close to the door.”

Have you ever received a referral to call someone and when you called, that person wasn't expecting your call and really had no interest?

Today's Sales Brief

Today's Sales Brief

Today's Sales Meeting Minute

When you make calls, whether it's a first call to a new prospect, or a service call to an existing customer, the level at which you call in an organization is a reflection of how you see yourself conceptually. If you make sure to meet the president, even if only briefly, then you believe you belong there.

Why do selling professionals accept play-it-safe words? Because when they go back to the office, they get to think and say that the prospect is probably going to buy — this makes the manager happy.

How often has a prospect asked, "Why should we buy from you?" Sounds like an inviting question to allow you the opportunity to describe all of your features, benefits, and knowledge of your products and services. Isn't that exactly what your prospect wants you to do?