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Paul Lanigan

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.

Reinforcing behavior that we actually want people to end is called enabling. The salesperson has several strategies s/he can employ to stop enabling prospects to abuse the selling relationship. Try these methods to get the respect you deserve as a selling professional:

Many salespeople believe that their particular industry doesn't encourage referrals and, as a result, don't ask. Typically, this myth evolves because people expect that referrals will just fall into their laps because they do a good job. When these referrals don't materialize, they assume that referrals are just not possible in their business.

Let me tell you a story about eight-year-old Nancy, a student in the public school system. One day during art class, Nancy painted a picture. Considering her age and development as a young artist, the picture of a house and the setting sun was really quite good. However, it was obvious that the picture was unbalanced. Nancy had painted the house and the sun to the left side of the canvas.

A good sales plan establishes goals, priorities, timetables, and necessary resources. A sales plan that will achieve your ends has these characteristics:

The selling profession is not generally considered a high-risk profession, yet salespeople face big risks every time they speak to customers and prospects. What do they risk? They risk uncovering the truth. They risk finding out their best customer has just changed the rules of doing business. They risk...

Professional selling can be cruel. Prospects are frequently better conditioned than the salespeople who call on them, and consequently they can destroy a salesperson in a phone call or during a chance meeting. On a day-to-day basis, even a good salesperson hears "no" more often than any word.

"Go for the NO"? Is "No" a good or bad word in Sales? I used to hate the idea of anyone saying "No" to me. How could that happen? I would spend too much time trying to analyze why it happened and why they did not buy from me. Then I learned to change my mindset.

Many of us have fished at one time or another, or at least seen a fisherman in action. The most common scenario is a line with a baited hook in the water, the fisherman waiting for a strike. When a fish hits, the fisherman yanks the rod up, often resulting in a return to the fisherman of a hook with no bait, and no fish.

I once asked a group of sales training participants to define "Selling." By the blank expressions on their faces, you would have thought I asked them to explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

A young ambitious sales professional wished to be top dog, not just in his company, but in his industry, so he sought council from a wise man. "Tell me, oh wise man, what do I need, in order to be the best sales professional in my business?"

Company brochures and pamphlets make reference to it. Testimonial letters are evidence of it. Yet, quality, reliability, and competitive prices don't guarantee a sale.

How do you determine if the time you devote to developing a selling opportunity is a worthwhile investment or a waste? One might think the answer is obvious: if you closed the sale, it was a good investment of time, and if you didn't close the sale, it was a waste of time. On the surface, there is some truth to that line of thinking. But, the length of time to close the sale or close the file on the opportunity is the real yardstick.

Is there anything you can do about your sales cycle? We will discover there are many patterns in the sales world. If we understand the patterns and what causes them, we have a chance to shorten the sales cycle.

There is no room for the shotgun approach to selling in today's customer-driven, competitive environment. Responding to a request for proposal (RFP) that falls within your company's general area of expertise is costly and likely to be inefficient, at best; developing a proposal for every RFP that comes in can be foolhardy.

In almost every buying decision, you'll work with a cast of characters who are involved in the process. Often, one member of the cast usually someone at or near the top of the organisation chart has the responsibility for making the decision. Sometimes, however, a committee of decision makers is involved.

As a professional, your reluctance to be perceived as a "salesperson" may cause you to have trouble being up-front about money issues. This can cost you money. Here are two common money pitfalls, and ways to avoid them:

When the economy was robust, prospects were eager to invest in many things for fear of being left behind in the hi-tech/high-speed/technology-will-solve-everything revolution of the late '90's. Quietly and with little notice, sales professionals stopped cold calling and spent more time on proposals and presentations, because their pipeline was always full. After all, prospects had already decided they were going to buy something. As a result of selling in this climate of growth, expansion and record sales, many sales professionals have lost their edge, or never had to learn how, to generate interest with tough buyers.

This is part 1 of 'The Top 10 reasons why Salespeople Fail'.
Here's our 2005 report--the top 10 reasons sales people fail and what to do about it--based on our research and observations of selling teams.
Reason #1
Buyers have a system, sales people usually don't.

Reason #2
"Spending too much time with prospects who will never buy"

When used at the wrong time, your product knowledge and expertise can be intimidating to your prospects. If you use buzzwords, technical terms, or industry jargon early in the selling process, before determining if your prospects are familiar with those terms, you run the risk of making your prospects uncomfortable.


A good pool of prospects is one of the keys to a successful selling career. Knowing how to prospect effectively keeps a career vital, and is truly the lifeblood of sales. Yet, so many sales professionals overlook the crucial element of having a prospecting plan. With a plan to follow, you can measure your efforts and results.

Without a doubt, prospecting is the number one problem for sales people. We spend plenty of time "trying" to close business. Probably because once we find someone with any interest at all we can feel comfortable with giving them lots of reasons to buy.

Transactional Analysis, or TA, is one of the human relationship models around which David Sandler built the Sandler Selling System. Dr. Eric Berne introduced TA, with the premise that each of us is actually three persons in one:

  • The child we once were
  • A "copy" of the parent or authority figure we observed as a child
  • An objective, analytical and logical processor of data

When do you start qualifying your prospects? What do you use to qualify them? What do they qualify for?

It's amazing but true: some people can't see farther than the end of their current workday. When you talk to these people, you'll often find them drowning in their everyday problems. Ask how they can go on this way, and they'll give you a strange look, as if they have no alternative.

Traditional selling strategies include techniques to "handle" stalls and objections. Some are fancy moves while others are programmed responses-all of which the prospect
has heard before. One of the keys to more successful selling is eliminating stalls and objections early in the selling process...

When you really want (or possibly need) to close a sale, it's easy to drop into "convincing" mode. You begin to sound like the stereotypical "high-pressure" salesperson explaining the benefits of the various features of your product or service and "justifying" the costs.

When you first open your mouth to speak to a group, audience members want to know two things: they are curious about the journey they'll be taking with you, and they want to be assured that they will receive value during the presentation. At any given point in the presentation they also want to know where they're going and where they've been...

Unless you work by yourself, you attend meetings from time to time. They may be called by your sales manager or sales team. Here's what you can do to help the meetings you attend be more productive and make yourself a more valuable team member in the process.

Whatever we do, whenever we interact with the world, we do so through our Attitude, Behaviours and Technique.

Robert Kiyosaki Talks About Selling From his Best-Selling Book, Rich Dad Poor Dad "In 1995 I granted an interview with a newspaper in Singapore. The reporter was on time, and the interview got underway immediately.

After you have reviewed the information gathered during the sales process, and begun your presentation to address the prospect's pains, it is time to close. The sooner the decision maker says yes, the better off you are. However, you must make sure that the prospect is truly ready to close. For that you can use Sandler's method for taking the prospect's temperature.

Peter Drucker said that the purpose of business is to create and keep customers. Most companies spend a great deal of money and effort on the first part - getting new customers. In fact, they generally spend five to six times more on obtaining new business than they spend on keeping the customers they have.

Whether Effective use of a selling system requires an understanding of the four possible positive results a salesperson can have when selling:

If you're like most salespeople today, you employ some form of a traditional selling system. These systems have been evolving since the birth of professional selling. While they go by different "brand names," their underlying structures and principles remain remarkably consistent.

When you have to speak to a group or do a presentation, do you ever find yourself saying things like,

"I'm not an expert on this topic, but . . ."
"This isn't exactly an exciting topic, but . . ."
"I hope you'll find this interesting."
"Had I more time to prepare . . ."

Have you considered mastering the art of sales or sales management? Mastery in our field comes in many varieties, yet follows certain unchanging laws. It brings rich rewards, yet is not really a goal or a destination but rather a process, a journey.

Whether you are talking about your sales career or your personal life, you achieve success as a result of several interrelated factors which fall under three categories:


Sooner or later, a prospect is going to tell you, "Send literature." It's a natural response to a salesperson. It's an easy way to reject the salesperson without getting personal.

If you are running into price objections with your prospects, you are probably giving intellectual presentations, i.e., emphasizing price or features and benefits. One of Sandler's cardinal rules is that people buy emotionally, they only make decisions intellectually. It is "pain" that will get you a sale, not price. Your job is to find someone who has pain, and can pay the price and make the decision to get rid of that pain.

Chuck Yeager is a living legend. In 1976, Chuck Yeager was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, presented to him by President Gerald Ford. President Ronald Reagan later honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. These are the highest honors the nation bestows for outstanding service or achievement.

There is an invisible barrier that is holding you back. It is the reason why many of us aren't achieving the goals we set for ourselves. It has been constructed brick-by-brick since we were very young.

Prospects will ask salespeople to perform some task - prepare a proposal, make a presentation, or arrange for a demonstration without making any commitment as to what will happen after the event.

"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 with whom you once worked. This can be good and practical advice. In business today, you need all the allies you can get.

How many presentations do you make each week, each month? Presentations are a killer for most small businesses. Often, we even measure the number of attempts to the number of presentations we make. We end up putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to make a good, or even great, presentation.

You've followed the Sandler Selling System. You haven't disqualified the prospect. The prospect hasn't disqualified you. What's next-the close. If you did a good job of identifying pain, uncovering budget and identifying the decision making process, and if you have a firm up-front contract, it's time to close.

Companies used to offer additional services in order to differentiate themselves from their competition. In today's environment, buyers expect that service as part of the package. They expect your product or service to be delivered in a superior manner. So, businesses today need to find other ways to add value to their products and services in order to keep their clients. They need to differentiate themselves by becoming partners with their clients and customers.