The commission on this one sale was $150,000. The
salesman had been working on this project for almost two years. The end
was finally in sight. The buying committee and the salesman were huddled
around the massive conference table hammering out the last contract
details. In minutes the deal would be signed.
The conference door opened
and one of the executives was summoned from the room. When he returned a
short time later, his face was ashen. He announced haltingly, “I’ve just
learned with great regret that we must stop the negotiations. The deal is
off.” Everyone sat in stunned silence.
Many months before, the salesman had asked who would be
the decision-makers. The buying committee included people in key positions
of authority. Even better was that he knew everyone on the committee. He
had met individually with each one of them asking about their concerns.
His questions produced the information that he needed to customize his
company’s solution for this customer.
He learned not only what his
customer wanted to accomplish with the solution, but also what the costs
would be if they chose not to implement the solution. His solution would
motivate them to buy because they would want it. Doing nothing was not an
option because it would cause them pain.
His presentation was structured
to showcase how his company’s solution would deliver his customer from
their present situation to where they wanted to be. That’s the reason they
wanted to buy from him.
Every member of the committee had the authority to say “yes” and buy. They did. The lone person missing from the room was the
chief financial officer, the person with the power to say “no.” The
salesman did not know that the CFO was the only one who didn’t want the
During those last few minutes, he thought the buying committee would
see things his way. When they didn’t, the CFO had no choice but to kill
What went wrong?
As the salesman was gathering information he was always
concerned with who could say “yes.” The ones that could were the members
of the buying committee. The buying committee reported to the CFO. The
salesman never asked who could say “no.” The CFO could say “no” and he
What can you learn?
When we sell we sometimes have blinders on. We leave
meetings feeling exultant because our customers want our products and
services. When they say they’ll look at our materials we believe they
actually will. When they express interest we believe the sale is imminent.
We look for what is positive in the sales process. We seek the people who
can say “yes.” We forget about the people who can say “no.”
As you start the sales process, the questions we ask
should give us all the information we need to sell. That includes both
what we want to hear and what we don’t want to hear. Some questions you
should ask your customers are:
- What criteria will you use to make this buying
- What is the order of importance to you of these
- When is the decision going to be made?
- Who are you considering?
- Is the budget in place for this
Remember the most important question: Who can
- When you develop your questioning strategy,
always ask who can say “no.”
- How will you prepare your next sales
- Who are the decision-makers at the
- Who decides on price and technical
- Who will use your products? What do they
- What input will each decision-maker have in
the purchasing process?
Real-World Selling was written
for the busy sales professional who wants to improve selling, but lacks
the time. The chapters are short enough that you can read a couple while
you wait for your customers. You can get new ideas that you can use
immediately as you sell.
"I read Real-World Selling on my way home FROM my client in Houston and
only wished I had read it on the way TO my
Brilliant Technologies Inc.
I have passed this book on to many people
entering the sales profession because of the great advice."
Pete G. Young, CLU
"Real-World Selling is packed with great
information! I really think that it's going to help me become a better
salesperson. I've had some requests from some of the other Sales Reps that
wanted to borrow my copy and I've told them to get their own."
"Maura's clean and concise writing style is easy to
follow and absorb. I like having one 'key' takeaway for each section.
Thanks, Maura, for simplifying the rules for
To have Maura
speak at your next sales meeting or conference, call 972.380.0200 or send
an email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLICK HERE if today is the day you need some humor to help you sell