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Quit Giving All The Answers!


I am going to get on a soapbox of mine today, but I just feel the need to address some of the most ridiculous things that salespeople have been taught over the years.

Okay, listen up Sales Reps…. you really want to know the answer to the age-old question of why some people don’t see you as true professionals? Well, here it is!

Learn to shut your mouth and stop giving all the answers you “think” the prospect wants to hear.  Here is how it goes with traditional sales training philosophies:

Introduction- Find some common ground to discuss so you make an instant “connection”. While I definitely believe this is important, the problem with far too many salespeople is that this is fake (and your prospect can tell it)! You need to either genuinely like people or find a new profession. Sorry, no shortcuts on this one.

Needs Analysis- This is the questioning phase. While it is taught that this is where you should spend the majority of your time (I completely agree), here is where I have the biggest problem. Too many salespeople are seen as not really being interested in learning about the customer or their needs, but simply in trying to uncover some “dirt” on the current provider to “use against them” when they drop the hammer in their presentation phase. So, you don’t believe providers still see you this way? Well, let’s just see where we go next.

Presentation- Here’s where all that hard work on the needs analysis pays off, right? WRONG! Here is where many salespeople still give our profession the image of snake oil salesmen. The problem here is that no matter what the prospect told you in the questioning phase, you already had the “solution” determined. This means you really didn’t give a ______ what information you uncovered, but that you are just trying to “close a sale”. You were going to pitch your pre-determined product or service regardless of the needs uncovered. 

Close- If you did the rest right, this should be the anti-climax to the event. Doing business together at this point should be a natural next step, not an event where the prospect thought “Thank God that is finally over”. 

You want to become a world-class salesperson? 

First, stop seeing people as “ratios”. They are people! Treat them with the utmost respect and dignity that they deserve (and that you want them to treat you with). 

Second (and this will be a tough pill for many to swallow), be willing to tell the prospect that what they currently have is working just fine for them or that what you have won’t fit their current needs the best. 

You think that sounds crazy, right? Then you are still looking at sales as a transaction. You might close the deal, but you will lose all of the “short term” customer’s repeat business. Much less, you will be the one they tell others to “watch out for”. The rep that helps the customer fill their need with what is in their best interest will always be the first one that gets a call back (and one that this customer will tell all their friends to call first also). 

This post is not to say that you shouldn’t believe in your product or service (heaven forbid someone would interpret that into this). You should always be proud of the product or service you and your company provide. You should absolutely make the sale when it is right. 

The real question is: Do you still want to be making those cold calls you have been doing for years in another 5 years to try to fill your pipeline; or would you prefer your prospects to be ringing your phone trying to get an appointment with you in an open spot? Think about it!


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