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Sales training: How to do it all wrong in a sales call

Most sales guys are too focused on the sale, the product, and the price. But this is the wrong approach, because what makes people buy or become a recurring customer or refer their friends to you are trust and respect. You need to focus on the relationship and not on selling, neither on the product or the price.

Let’s look at this sales call example that happened to me recently:

Sales guy calling

“Hello, Mr. Korte this is Super International Realities, Mr. “I will soon be the best sales guy here” speaking, you already do business with “my dumb colleague” and we offered you some real estate.”

He thinks this makes me listen, and he has the permission to call me as I am already a client with his company.

“First of all, I want to wish you a happy new year.”

He thinks he is taking care of the relationship being nice and polite to me. 

But it’s an empty phrase; that won’t get him anywhere. I haven’t seen, nor talked to him, and it’s the 10th of January, he would have better said “Happy Easter.” 

“Mr. Korte, I know you are buying and searching for good real estate deals, but today I want to ask you if you have anything for sale.”

He asked me a question which I can answer with Yes or No. This is actually what I did, and this is a bad idea because I replied:

“No, at the moment we don’t sell anything.”

After some “Thank you and good bye” exchanges the call was over.

Actually at the point of his call I had at least three projects with a total size of 40Mio.  Euro on sale or have been thinking about a potential sale. But why didn’t I consider this guy? I even like his colleague which he mentioned in his call and know that the company acts professionally. But all this doesn’t count in the moment of the call. It’s a direct person to person communication, and the human brain has its rules. As he didn’t show any interest in my business or my person and therefore didn’t establish rapport or try to build a relation I just chose the exit strategy and got rid of him. This happened fully automated in the back of my brain. The call was over before I could reflect what was going on.

In general, the call was a good idea, but the execution was done without any sales knowledge and therefore useless. A pure waste of time.
What could he have done better?

The easiest way to open the brain and heart of a person and therefore build up trust/relation/rapport is to ask open questions. Open questions are questions that you cannot answer with a yes or no and should be somehow related to the person. To ask for the name, for example, is a good start. I do this even if I am in a hurry and even if I know the secretary knows me and knows that I want to talk to her boss, I take the time to recognize the person on the phone.

To show you how it works, if done right, I typically show my sales staff this little film sequence from the film Ocean’s Eleven. I love this scene as the situation of the deal seems to be dead. Most people would have already hung up the phone or would have walked away, but Bernie Mac shows you how it works:

Watch it more than once and inhale the situation.

“They told me to come see you.”

Do you get the point? The scene has all it needs for the success of the deal. Actually, in the film the buyer is in the role of the seller and vice versa. The buyer asks for the name of the dealer. He repeats the name of the sales rep and even makes a little word game about the name “like in ….”. He does all this to build up the rapport and to show that he recognizes the person behind the function (of selling cars). Please recognize that while doing all this he talks about some stuff completely off the records, but and this is important related to the other person (his smooth hands). The subject of the conversation is not at all related to the deal, the product or the price. Later he tells the guy “They told me to come see you.” All these things make the dealer feels that he has been recognized behind his pure function to sell cars. And in the end, the seller proposes a better price without even being asked!

You see product talk or even price talk is the wrong way. Building a relation or at least showing that you recognize the person behind the function is key to sell or to get good deals, even in private relations.

Get confidence by practicing often, and you can do this everywhere. In a Café, while talking to the waitress, in a pub talking to the bartender, on the train talking to the conductor, on the bus talking to your neighbor, in the cap talking to the driver, in town talking to a stranger, that might not seem to know where he is. Get routine in recognizing the person behind the function.

And always remember a secretary is not just a secretary.  A driver is not just a driver. An assistant is not just an assistant. They are all persons with feelings, hopes, fears. And with knowledge about and access to persons that you might need to close the deal. When you understand this and the people you talk to understand (subconscious in the back of their brain) that you care about them, then the gate is open, you build rapport and then people are listing and understand what you need. Chances that you get what you want are much higher and in the best case you will be remembered as a caring person that people help. And people help people that helped them, or just recognized them as human beings and not just their function. If you keep acting like this constantly and people learn by communicating with you that they can trust you, you will build up a long lasting relation. The future efforts to approach people will be much easier as you now have helping hands even inside the organization that you want to approach. 

The easiest way to implement this in your day to day actions is to take your time to talk and communicate with people, either face-to-face or on the phone. You will not be able to build up rapport b email, at least it’s hard. 

And don’t differ between people that are the decision makers and the rest of the company. Everybody inside the organization that you approach can be of help and get you inside. You can read my other post about this topic (not yet published, but written, stay tuned).

And the implementation is much easier than you might think. For example: Just don’t leave the office of your tax adviser without having a little chat with his front desk guy. 

The more routine you get, the better you get. Don’t be afraid; most people won’t kill you. Even if you start with something off topic or not obvious and they don’t understand, it’s not that bad, to clarify is the chance to start a conversation and to leave an impression.

Warning: Stay away from sexual or political content.

“You look good in this pullover” might be ok, while “you look sexy in this pullover” might already be too much.

And always remember to include a personal reference.

“This pullover looks good” is different to “This pullover looks good at you.”

Now go and start acting as a sales pro, because you are!