The Secret of Selling (To Me)

By: Cody Pierson

A few weeks ago I was on a demo call with a sales rep whoís only question seemed to be ď...and how will this feature benefit you?Ē Itís a good question but I take enough sales calls and watch enough training videos to recognize the fundamentals when I hear them. Itís one of the few things I have in common with the C-level prospects that your sales team really wants to be talking to.

So, in the interest of providing constructive feedback to the entire industry of sales, Iím going to share with you the tips, tricks and tactics that work (on me) every time. You might be surprised who agrees with me.

1. Lighten The Mood

Sales calls make me a little tense. I know youíre going to ask me a lot of questions and I want to seem competent. Iíve probably researched your product and have a list of questions that Iím trying not to forget about. Essentially, Iím thinking more about myself than I am about you.

Cracking a joke or asking an unrelated question (other than ĎHowís the weather?í) reminds me that Iím talking to another human, rather than a machine thatís programmed to extract money from me as efficiently as possible.

2. Ditch The Script

Or write a really good one. This article was inspired by a call that failed to engage me because it felt like a paint-by-numbers sales call. We probably wonít become BFFís but if talking to you is more interesting than maintaining the database Iím probably going to keep doing it. Conversely, if youíre on autopilot I'm probably not giving you my A-game, either.

3. Take It Slow

Your product probably has a lot of great features and you have a limited amount of time. I donít need you to draw me a diagram but setting a breakneck pace during a demo just reminds me that Iím not your top priority. At least ask ĎDoes that make sense?í every now and then to give me an opportunity to ask questions.

4. Call Me Out

Iím probably not being completely honest with you. I might have decided that your product isnít the right fit but feel bad for wasting your time. I might have been listening politely because I had 20 minutes to kill before lunch. I might have questions but Iím holding back because I donít want to look stupid. Either way, if you give me permission to be honest Iím more likely to give you useful information.

Itís not an invitation to jump down my throat or twist my arm into another call, but saying ďJust level with me...Ē makes it infinitely more likely that Iím going to tell you the whole story.

5. Take ĎNoí For An Answer

This is more about maintaining the relationship once weíve wrapped up the call. I know itís your job to address objections and ĎIím not interested.í is a big one. On the other hand, once Iíve decided on a course of action youíre probably not going to talk me out of it by citing hypothetical situations. Correctly or not, I believe I know more about the company I work for than you do.

Make yourself a resource by offering to re-engage down the road to assess how things have developed. If itís gone well Iím going to want to brag to someone and if itís going terribly Iím probably open to a discussion about how to salvage the situation.

I always have been (and probably always will be) a better prospect than sales professional. The same is true for almost everyone youíll be talking to. We prospects arenít as complicated as you imagine but we do startle easily and weíre habitual liars. Be patient, be approachable and weíll warm up eventually.

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Cody Pierson is the Marketing Manager at Martyn Bassett Associates, Toronto's premiere executive recruitment firm. If you're working in the GTA and need help staying connected to your industry, get in touch with us at

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