August 24, 2016

Easy Sales: The Trend for Small Business


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Your Business Blogger has always been a peddler. A very lazy peddler, which meant two things:

1) I had to learn some shortcuts, and,
2) I was destined for management.

I started out selling vacuum cleaners cold-calling door to door.

Cold. Calling. O Joy.

So in the late 80’s I sought out the smartest sales guy on the planet who had the same latitude for lazy as me.

I decided to meet with David Sandler, the founder of the Sandler Sales Institute.

After listening to him for a few minutes, I was intrigued by his system and his style, but I wanted to know more. I ventured a timid question.

He looked at me. Then he told me to get out of the room. I come, willing to sit through his sales pitch and he tells me, me! to get lost. The program was expensive and lightweight nobodies couldn’t afford his sales program.

Those weren’t his exact words. But close.

And, of course, I couldn’t afford it.

And, of course, I had to have it.

The Sandler Rules,

When faced with stalls, objections, or put-offs, you must eliminate them or it’s over.

Inspect what you expect.

You can’t lose what you don’t have.

If you wait until the presentation to close the sale, you put too much pressure on the prospect and yourself.

It was the best 850 bucks I ever spent.

I learned to ask stupid questions (which came quite naturally) like,

What does that mean?


Why am I here?


It doesn’t look like you’re interested?

And when all else fails,

Is it over?

That last one is my favorite. When at the end of the sales process and it doesn’t look like the sale is coming and you are about to get thrown out, ask,

Is it over?

In decades a-peddling I’ve only had two prospects say yes, it’s over, now get lost.

(Hint: Guys, don’t be asking this question when you’re dating. You will get many, many yes’s. Not that I’d know.)

Sandler’s Sales System is not for everyone — but it works even for those who don’t like it.

But I try to steer clients to Sandler because my small business owners work too hard. This is an unfortunate trend. The Boss should never work too hard.

The core concept of this sales program is of hyper-sales-qualification. Do not attempt without adult supervision.

I haven’t made a cold-call since.

My prospective clients call me.

This is an unpaid endorsement for continuing education.

###
David Sandler died in 1995. And left the world a better place.

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Jack Yoest


Jack Yoest John Wesley (Jack) Yoest Jr., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America. His expertise is in management training and development, operations, sales, and marketing. Professor Yoest is the president of Management Training of DC, LLC. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and with various stints as a corporate executive, he also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in the Administration of Governor James Gilmore of Virginia.

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33 Reactions

  1. “When faced with stalls, objections, or put offs, you must eliminate them or its over.” This quote stuck with me the most from this article. I often find myself thinking I’ve run into an obstacle. At work, at school, and in life. It is hard for me to overcome said obstacles, whatever they are. Sandler’s comment speaks volumes in the sales world and in life really. None is going to do your job for you, only you are. So keep pushing through those obstacles and get to the bottom of that client who says, “Ehh, I don’t know about that.” Find a way to get rid of the obstacle, no matter what it takes. Having Sandler’s mind set in sales and life, I think, can launch your career and help you achieve your goals.

  2. Jack Yoest

    Clare, true — you highlight the paradox that is only resolved with wisdom and judgement:

    When to persist, and,
    When to quit.

    Our work is to solve a problem for our customer, but the customer must want to solve his problem.

    Helping the customer demands influence and persuasion — skills that not everyone can master.

    Good comment,
    Jack

  3. “You can’t lose what you don’t have.” This is a great comfort when it comes to dealing with people. If you are meeting someone for the first time, trying to make a good impression or a sale, and for whatever reason you rub them the wrong way, you having nothing less than when you started. The key is to develop the value in what you already have: become a good and virtuous person. After all, you can lose everything else. The most important thing is to focus on contributing to the well-being of those around you, “and all these things will be yours without the asking.”

  4. Sandler makes a good point about managing one’s expectations: “Inspect what you expect.” If the pitch comes off as overconfident, the prospect will doubt its authenticity. If it comes off as too realistic, it won’t inspire the prospect’s confidence. Finding a good mix of confidence and realism will make the pitch appealing, but will acknowledge the customer’s needs and hesitation. It’s the seller’s duty to ask themselves if they believe their own “schtick”. This way, a salesforce can appreciate the customers as rational individuals with complex needs.

  5. Sandler makes a great point about managing one’s expectations: “Inspect what you expect”. If a pitch comes off as overconfident, the prospect will doubt its authenticity. If it comes off as too tailored or dry, it won’t inspire the prospect’s confidence. Finding a well balanced mix of confidence and realism will appeal to the customer, while addressing their needs and hesitation. It is the seller’s duty to ask themselves if they believe their own “schtick”. This way, a salesforce can appreciate their customers as rational individuals with complex needs.

  6. Sandler makes a great point about managing one’s expectations: “Inspect what you expect”. If a pitch comes off as overconfident, the prospect will doubt its authenticity. If it comes off as too practical, it won’t inspire the prospect’s confidence. Finding a well balanced mix of confidence and realism will appeal to the customer, while addressing their needs and hesitation. It is the duty of the seller to ask themselves if they believe their own “schtick”. Reflecting on their own pitches, and acknowledging the rational and emotional sides of the customer, will help a salesforce appreciate customers as individuals.

  7. Sandler makes a great point about managing one’s expectations: “Inspect what you expect”. If a pitch comes off as overconfident, the prospect will doubt its authenticity. If it comes off as too practical, it won’t inspire the prospect’s confidence. Finding a well balanced mix of confidence and realism will appeal to the customer, while addressing their needs and hesitation. It is the duty of the seller to ask themselves if they believe their own “schtick”. Acknowledging the rational and emotional sides of the customer will help a salesforce appreciate customers as individuals.

  8. Sandler makes a great point about managing one’s expectations: “Inspect what you expect.” If a pitch comes off as overconfident, the prospect will doubt its authenticity. If it comes off as too practical, it won’t inspire the prospect’s confidence. Finding a well balanced mix of confidence and realism will appeal to the customer, while addressing their needs and hesitation. It is the duty of the seller to ask themselves if they believe their own “schtick”. Reflecting on their own pitches, and acknowledging the rational and emotional sides of the customer, will help a salesforce appreciate customers as individuals.

  9. Sometimes people are thinking problems in too difficult and over complicated ways. To some extent, it is actually quite useful to ask “stupid” questions. At any time, when facing obstacles, asking the simplest questions could help you to find out why you are doing this, what you are expecting from this and what could help the most to achieve what you are expecting. The key to asking “stupid” questions is to avoid acknowledging that you think they’re stupid. Also, most people won’t hesitate to help when you ask a simple question, unless you keep asking the same question over and over or it’s something that you could have easily found out with some quick research.

  10. It almost seems counterintuitive to ask, “Is it over?” when conducting a sale, but on second thought, the opposite could be the case. If the sale is not going in the direction you want, then there is absolutely no point in wasting any more time on a customer who simply has no interest in buying. This gives both the customer and the salesperson a way out of an otherwise futile transaction, or, conversely, could potentially spur the customer to make a decision where before they would not have. In some instances, putting people on the spot in such a manner will actually guide them towards making a purchase. If not, then the salesperson is enabled to move onto the next potential customer, and the former customer will not have had to remain in a position where they were engaged in learning about a product they either did not want or need.

  11. Jack Yoest

    Patrick, your comment reminds us of “Who steals my purse steals trash,” where in Shakespeare’s Othello, Act 3, scene 3, Iago says,

    Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.

    Bravo,
    Jack

  12. I think the whole notion about “asking stupid questions,” is not stupid at all. I have learned through class, the importance of being inquisitive and double-checking, and if that requires asking several clarification questions, that’s okay. When delivering a product, or a presentation, or whatever really in life, asking questions is a part of life. I cannot fear looking stupid, and not getting the answer I was looking for. I often hear, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.” Being inquisitive and being thorough, is extremely important and I am constantly learning this through the MSBA program.

  13. Sandler makes a good point about managing one’s expectations: “Inspect what you expect”. If a pitch comes off as overconfident, the prospect will doubt its authenticity. If it comes off as too practical, it won’t inspire the prospect’s confidence. Finding a well balanced mix of confidence and realism will appeal to the customer, while addressing their needs and hesitation. It is the duty of the seller to ask themselves if they believe their own “schtick”. Reflecting on their own pitches, and acknowledging the rational and emotional sides of the customer, will help a salesforce appreciate customers as individuals.

  14. The theory of laziness is interesting in this scope. Lazy may actually be more effective. If one used shortcuts to achieve the same end goal (in this case sales) than is it actually laziness? Or perhaps the person who did not use the shortcuts is an ineffective sales person, or fails to recognize time saving opportunities in front of them.

    • Jack Yoest

      Ryan, Time is saved — making the sales rep more efficient and effective by qualifying the prospect to ensure that he has the MAP — Money (budget) Authorty (right to sign the check) and Pain (is he unhappy?).

      Good observation,
      Jack

  15. “You can’t lose what you don’t have” is a proper mindset for a salesman. I feel as a door-to-door salesman, you can gain a lot more you realize. Rejection is not the end of the game. Even if you don’t gain a customer, you can obtain a lot of information about her current services. This information turns into insights and insights will help you become better salesman. At the end of the day, there is always something to gain for a salesman, what matter is how will you use it for your next sale.

  16. Stupid questions are often the best ones to ask and the hardest ones to answer. If you can get down to the root of why a customer is buying a product, then you will know if your product is a right fit for that business. People also enjoy questions like “how is that?” or “why does that happen?”, because it gives them an opportunity to talk about themselves or their business. This only furthers your relationship with the customer, and shows that you actually care about their problems.

  17. Consistency. People like consistency in many aspects of life, why would sales be different. People cannot be confused in sales. “A confused mind always says no”. This statement is so true. If people have doubts or questions, especially when buying something, they will most likely not be comfortable making the decision to buy. Overthinking can be bad for the customer, but maybe the salesperson too. When selling, intuition of reading a situation is key, and if you overthink a situation you could mess up a sale. I think going with your gut feeling is the best way in many areas and I am thinking that sales are no exception.

  18. So much that we learn about business comes back to consistency. By asking questions, and there are no wrong questions, one can build trust with the consumer while also building up one’s knowledge base. Being knowledgeable about the situation or the product is the best way to ensure that business will continue past the first transaction because it allows one to explain how the product will better the life of the customer in a comprehensive way. With service like that who wouldn’t come back when the need for that product rises again? Being careful and throughout with questioning and listening is vital to good business.

  19. “Is it over?” Who knew that three small words could completely change an outcome? It is the last question to ask when every other question has failed, however, it is the one that can change the course of a sale. Before asking this, a salesperson should listen and spend 80% of the conversation with a customer trying to get to know them, the situation, and the need for a product/service. After grasping all necessary facts and feelings, the salesperson should have a good idea of the type of person the customer is and developed some sort of relationship. But if the customer is leaning the opposite way of a purchase, asking “is it over” can guide them to the other direction.

    This tactic is similar to the article about “cheating”. This is not cheating. Instead, it is thinking outside of the box and getting inside of the head of the consumer. And like this article says, it has only failed twice!

  20. The main concern for a sales person is to get the “YES” from a consumer. However in order to get the yes, you need to effectively solve a problem they have. However if the consumer is unwilling to solve their own problem, they of course will not be willing to have a stranger solve it for them. So it comes down to time management as a sales person. You will eventually achieve a confirmed sell, it just takes time, patience, and above all, the number of people you attempt to sell too. The more volume of potential clients you have, the better your chances are of selling your product. However in order to obtain a high volume of potential clients, you need to know when to stop your pitch and move forward to the next client.

  21. In all forms of sales, getting the “YES” response from your potential client is what a salesman strives for. Closing a deal. However a salesman needs to understand the problem of the customer, if your product will solve their problem, and if the customer is even willing to solve their problem. If a customer is not willing to solve their own problem, then they will most likely not want a “stranger” solving their problem for them. To be an effective as well as an efficient new salesman you need to have three basic criteria: knowledge of your product, time management, and above all, a high volume of potential clients. If a customer is not interested, you need to be able to accept the “NO” before you waste valuable time that you could of been using with another client that could potentially say “YES.”

    Sometimes “NO” isn’t a bad thing either. After being declined multiple times, you learn what works and what does not work. It will allow you to understand the customer more and be able to adapt your sales pitch so that it becomes easier to crush your quotas.

  22. Sometimes simple is better as long as the thinking behind what is considered simple is guided. Asking simple questions brings the person that your selling to back to the here and now of the situation. A salesperson who rambles or uses big language is not a good way of communicating in terms of trying to establish a seller to buyer and vice versa relationship. The, “It doesn’t look like you’re interested” question is a great way of having the person give a definite “Oh, no I am,” or a “Sorry, I’m not.” Less work at that point for the salesperson.

  23. This article had valuable points that stuck with me and some of the prior comments even pointed them out.

    1. “Inspect what you expect” This is important for any seller to have in mind when pitching an idea, product, or service. It is not just all about the customer. The seller must understand his or her own expectations prior to selling. Joe said it perfectly about going into a pitch with the right confidence, realism and balance between the seller and customer.

    2. Ask questions. As a seller if you do not ask the right questions or questions at all, how are you going to lay the foundation of a sale? A question not only allow the seller to learn more about the customer but also helps the customer learn more of their hidden needs and often solutions to their problems.

    3. “Is it over?” Another great point made by Sandler. Knowing when the sale is over. Pushing too far often leads to a bad taste in the mouth for the customer and they will not want to purchase and will share their experience to others. As a seller, it is very important to read the signs the customer is giving to know when to ask questions, pitch more ideas, concepts, advantages, benefits, solutions and even when to stop.

  24. I like the idea of “is it over,” because it seems a very good way to extend the opportunity, therefore, giving you more chance to complete the sale. I have always found that the vast majority of people are not very confrontational, and this lends itself to the success of such a blunt question requiring such a direct answer. Still, if a sales call comes down to this “last resort,” does it mean the salesperson is overstepping his boundaries? There is obviously something in the way of a successful transaction at this point and to continue marching forward doesn’t seem like the most practical or thoughtful step.

  25. Asking questions is an easy way to develop rapport with a client. Typically, a client doesn’t want to hear a drop down list of all the features of a product because he could find that online. Asking questions and developing a relationship to understand the clients needs, will more often than not lead to a sale better than reading off features. Asking “is it over” immediately sounds as if a relationship was created between the seller and buyer. If they buyer is able to say no, then you eliminate time wasted. If a customer is not able to say no, asking the next steps typically follows. Using this approach will eliminate wasted time on customers who essentially know they wont buy the product at the beginning of the conversation.

  26. Adriana Del Castillo

    The phrase that stood out to me the most from this article was “If you wait until the presentation to close the sale, you put too much pressure on the prospect and yourself”. I had always thought that it was custom to wait to close the sale. However, I see that it is much more effective to ask the customer questions that are easy to answer, as suggested in the article. Asking questions such as “am I understanding you correctly?” and “is it over?” are great ways to keep the customer interested and increase the likelihood of a sale to happen.

  27. The main takeaway of this article for me is that salespeople must be customer-oriented, not product-oriented. It is so important to establish a relationship with a customer and make sure that the product they are offering is a good fit. If they have determined that it is, they must put on their detective hat and investigate. They must continue to ask questions, and learn to be a good listener. That way, they will not only learn important information about the customer, but they will establish the rapport that is crucial to a good sale.

  28. “When faced with stalls, objections, or put offs, you must eliminate them or its over.” This quote stuck with me the most from this article. I often find myself thinking I’ve run into an obstacle. At work, at school, and in life. It is hard for me to overcome said obstacles, whatever they are. Sandler’s comment speaks volumes in the sales world and in life really. None is going to do your job for you, only you are. So keep pushing through those obstacles, get to the bottom of that client who says, “Ehh, I don’t know about that.” Find a way to get rid of the obstacle, no matter what it takes. Having Sandler’s mind set in sales and life, I think, can launch your career and help you achieve your goals.

  29. Knowing when something is over is a great tool in sales. I never thought it could be that simple though, “is it over.” That’s all. In sales, if the prospect still is talking then it’s possible you have a sale, but you don’t know. If you get to a point and ask if it’s over and they don’t say yes, they’re still in and you know it’s likely you can make your sale. It’s just like going for the “no”. Knowing where you stand in any situation is very important in life, it’s no less important in sales.

  30. In personal selling, “Is it over?” means that the sales professional should make the ask and try for the sale’s close. The sales professional should end the sales pitch by asking if the prospective client will buy the product. This forces the prospective client to make a yes or no choice if they will participate in the sale, and not continually string the sales professional along. By uncovering the true actions of the client, the sales professional is able to identify and rebuttal any problems and objections that client may have. Furthermore, by making the ask, the sales professional is able to continually critique and adapt his strategy based on what he finds work and doesn’t work for his clients.

  31. Alexander Ruhling

    I agree that the “Is it over” question is probably the most important one. When making a sale, going for the “no” is perhaps even more central to the conversation than going for a “yes.” By asking the potential client if the sale is over, both the seller and client can hope to see if there is in fact still any kind of fit for the client and the salesperson’s product. A salesperson may waste valuable time that he or she needs for other, more promising clients if he or she continues talking with a client with whom the sale may be already “over.”

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