Writing proposalsWe believe that the prospect has to earn the right to get a proposal from the salesperson. The Optimal Salesperson® will only write a proposal to a prospect who has completely met all of the elements to be considered a qualified prospect. Most salespeople spend entirely too much time writing proposals. They do a cursory job of qualifying the prospect and then they either volunteer to write a proposal or are asked to write one which they eagerly agree to do. There are several possible factors which can cause this to happen.

  • The salesperson does not have or does not use and effective sales process
  • The salesperson knows how to qualify a prospect but is unskilled at executing the process
  • The salesperson has a belief that they must quote when asked
  • The salesperson has a fear of rejection so they won’t ask the tough questions
  • The salesperson believes that they can’t win if they don’t quote
  • The salesperson thinks that writing proposals with low probability is a good way to avoid prospecting which they hate worse than writing proposals

There are many more possible reasons and some salespeople suffer from more than one.


Some are born most are made. Born salespeople are as rare as painters like Monet and Picasso or basketball players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James or Tenors like Bocelli and Pavarotti. But even they did not emerge on the scene fully developed. Monet broke internal barriers and helped create the impressionist movement. Jordan spent hours in the gym and set a new standard of excellence on the court and Pavarotti took many voice lessons and practiced for hours to redefine what a powerful tenor should sound like. The difference between successful salespeople and the “also ran’s” is motivation to develop skills through consistent practice and the willingness to uncover hidden obstacles (like discomfort discussing money) and to put in the effort required to overcome the obstacle. You don’t have to be Jordan, Monet or Pavarotti to succeed. Anyone can do it if they are willing to put in the effort and get the right type of coaching to shorten the process.


Management business people agreement flowchart processMost sales processes being used in the field today are me-centered. Me-centered selling is when the salesperson spends most of the time with a prospect talking about the product being sold or the company selling it. Thus, when a salesperson starts to engage with a prospect, most often the prospect recognizes that he is being sold to, and immediately shuts down and gets defensive. We believe that me-centered selling is not only ineffective but it is offensive to the prospect. More importantly most people have a natural reluctance to self-promotion. Our belief is that the most effective and authentic sales process is prospect centered. The prospect doesn’t care about you or your company. They care about their own problem and their own situation. It is the job of the salesperson to focus on the prospect and through skillful yet honest and authentic conversation discover if the prospect actually has a compelling reason to buy and if so when, how, and for how much.


MotivationThe two most important attributes of the successful salesperson are desire and commitment. Desire is the passion for success. In other words, it is the drive to achieve financial goals, or to be the best you can be. Desire most frequently manifests itself in the motivation to achieve specific financial objectives, but a better community, or lifestyle is often what defines success for a particular individual. Commitment is the willingness to do whatever it takes to get there. Not anything that is illegal or unethical or immoral or physically unsafe. But the willingness to face internal demons and get out of one’s comfort zone is what commitment is all about. Commitment is doing or saying what is necessary for success even when it is uncomfortable or scary for us to do so.


It’s a Conversation Not an Inquisition or and Interrogation

questionI think probing questions should be left to Attorneys in a court room. Salespeople are often taught to ask probing questions. But who wants to be probed? Do You? I didn’t think so. Neither do your prospects. Steve Yastrow has it exactly right in his recent blog post. In it he states:

“Questions are effective, but they are most effective in the context of a conversation. To Joe’s customers, these questions didn’t feel like a conversation. They felt like an interrogation.

Conversation is a key element of any relationship-building customer interaction. Customers will feel more comfortable if the questions you ask are integrated into a back-and-forth dialogue than if they come rapid-fire, one after another.”

He goes on to explain more about how to conduct the “conversation”. It is well worth the read. You can get the entire article here.


mindsetMost salespeople are oblivious to their own belief systems and other hidden weaknesses. Yet that is what determines your mindset on a sales call and ultimately how successful you will be in sales. When you feel reluctance to asking a particular question that is your mindset getting in the way. When you shy away from using a sales technique that others use successfully, that is your mindset limiting your income. So what is your mindset and how can you determine what it is? You may ask. It’s simple to talk about but not so simple to actually do. As I mentioned in this one minute video sales tip you have to pay attention to what you do or say or more importantly, what you avoid doing or saying. The sad truth for salespeople is that their belief systems and hidden weakness such as call reluctance or need for approval, or discomfort discussing money WILL have a dramatic negative effect on how much you earn. This is not true of other professions. Heart surgeons can have all of those mindset issues and it will not inhibit them from doing their job at the highest level of effectiveness. The same is true for brick layers, engineers, scientists and most others. Another tactic to help uncover your hidden weaknesses and increase your sales is to debrief yourself after every call as I describe in this one minute video sales tip. The great news is that if you overcome your mindset issues, the sky is the only limit on your earnings and the even better news is, unlike most of the other professions, you can achieve great leverage and earn far more than them in dollars per hour of work. If you really want to see how these hidden weaknesses affect your income watch this video which goes into great detail.


Don't AskHave you ever been sold to? Sure you have. How often do you see where the salesperson is taking you with her questions? Pretty often I would say. Is it because we are “in the business”? I don’t think so. It is usually because the salesperson is asking a leading question. Here are a few that come right out of traditional sales training courses:

  • “Is the xxx machine producing at least 32.3 percent?” (Probing question)
  • “You would have to agree that it makes sense to reduce cost right?” (irrefutable statement)
  • “If I could show you a way to increase output would you be interested”?” (commitment)

All of these are an attempt to lead the prospect somewhere … and they see right through it … and furthermore, they don’t want to go there because the see it as a trap … and it is one. So don’t ask these leading types of questions you won’t get the answers you are looking for and you will end up working too hard for the order. Here’s a different approach. Make statements that they can refute. Don’t probe, discuss. (Who wants t be probed anyway.) don’t ask commitment questions to stat the conversation. It might sound like this.

  • “I assume the xxx machine is above 32%”
  • “In an operation like yours at least it is easier to keep costs in line”.
  • I have some clients worrying about output, but it looks like yours is OK.

You won’t get typical responses to these statements that’s for sure. If it seems unnatural it is because new skills are needed for the new economy. Go here to watch a short video to find out why the new skills are needed.


iStock_000018113199_SmallYou should never worry about this. In all the years I have been training and coaching salespeople, I have never had anyone ask me to teach them to be “pushy”. However, I have had countless salespeople refuse to use a sales technique because they feared it made them sound “pushy”. No one likes a pushy salesperson and no one wants to be that person. Here’s is why you should never worry about it.

  1. “Pushy” is a relative term. What appears pushy to you may not be so to the person you are talking to. It depends on two things. The first thing is your belief systems. If you think it is not OK to ask a detailed question about why a person thinks they need something, then any detailed “why” question will seem inappropriately pushy to you. But if my belief is that I have to know why they need it because it will affect the solution I offer then, I don’t see it as a pushy question. I see it as a necessary and credibility generating question. The second is they way the question is asked. If you ask with humility, sincerity, a yearning for truth, and confusion in your voice it will seldom be taken as pushy. If you ask arrogantly then no matter what you ask will seem pushy.


  1. If you are focused on your product or service and “suggesting” how you can help the prospect this will probably be seen as pushy because you are “pushing”. However, if you spend 95% of your time focused on the prospect and their problem, it won’t be seen as pushy because you are not pushing anything. Doctors aren’t seen as pushy because they spend most of their time diagnosing. Then when they “prescribe” it is seen as a solution and not as a sales pitch. And, as you know, doctors sell a lot of medical services.

If you have the right attitude and the right sales approach you never have to worry about being pushy. Here is an excerpt from a recent workshop that helps explain it.

If you have the right attitude and the right sales approach you never have to worry about being pushy. Here is an excerpt from a recent workshop that helps explain it.

3 ways to break out of a sales slump

slumpSlumps can be devastating. Your goals are in jeopardy you can become depressed and they can become self-perpetuating. Some people get in a slump and never get out, effectively establishing a new and much lower level of performance. Follow these three steps and any slump you get into will be short lived and you will soon be back on your way to achieving your financial goals.

  1. CHANGE YOUR ACTIVITY LEVEL – Make more calls. Slumps affect your outlook, expectation of success and your mindset. All three will have the effect of depressing the number of call you make. I bet if you check your activity in the slump period it is lower than normal. So Pick up the phone and make some calls. Call new people. Call old prospects. Call clients. Call old clients. Get out or the office and go see people. You will feel better about yourself and even at lower closing rates your sales will go up.
  2. CHANGE THE SCENERY – Call higher in the organizations than you are used to calling. You may be out of your comfort zone but you will get different questions, different levels of problems to discuss and they may actually have authority to move forward where your regular contact did not.
  3. CHANGE YOUR QUESTIONS – Ask new and different questions. Ask questions you have been avoiding. New questions mean different conversations which will inevitably lead to different outcomes.

Believe it or not slumps are mostly a mindset problem. Change your mindset and the slump will end. A famous baseball player once answered a reporter’s question about his slump with the following “What slump! I am not in a slump! I may not be getting hits right now but I am not in a slump!” He went on to set records for hitting because in his mind (and reality) he was never in a slump

Selling more in less time

In this blog post Mark hunter gives six things any salesperson can do to sell more in less time. I am especially fond of Number 2, “don’t sell to unmotivated buyers”. In other words make sure there is a compelling reason to buy before you decide to spend any time with a prospect. The fact that they are excited about your product is not enough. Remember, it’s the prospect that has to qualify to get you to spend your time and corporate resources, not the other way around. Learn this lesson and your time management problem will largely disappear.

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