November | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • The Biggest Goof Sellers Make When Dealing with Hot Prospects By Jill Konrath >>
  • When Confidence Meets Arrogance . . . by Jonathan Farrington >>
  • Avoid Words and Phrases that are Sure to Cause Resistance by Art Sobczak >>
  • Want Better Tele-Sales Results Tomorrow? Do These 7 Things Tonight by Jim Domanski >>
  • Selling is Easy – Just Give People What They Want or Need! by Jonathan Farrington >>
  • I Used To Do Sales, Then It Got Too Tough … By Steve Waterhouse >>
  • Seven Insights To Use For Getting Your Next Job by Roy Chitwood, CSP >>

The Biggest Goof Sellers Make When Dealing with Hot Prospects
By Jill Konrath

I dream of hot prospects who call me up and say, “We’ve heard good things about your company. We want to make a decision quickly. We’re hoping you can help us out.”

Occasionally my sales fantasies turn into realities. When it happens, it’s so easy to be seduced by this low-hanging fruit. Outwardly, I try to appear calm, cool and collected – a true professional. But inside, every inch of my body wants to scream out, “Take me! Take me!”

Okay. I’m being a bit dramatic here, but I really want to make my point.

It’s so easy to be tempted by these opportunities. And when you yield to this temptation, you make fatal mistakes—ones that can totally derail your sales efforts and cause you to lose the business.

True, But Embarrassing Story

Let me give you a personal example, to show you how easy it is to get caught up in this seduction.

A few years ago, my primary business focus was working with large corporations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area when they were launching new products. My expertise? Helping them shorten time to revenue on new product introductions.

I’d just launched to help small businesses gain access to my expertise. It was my new baby. I’d invested tons of time and lots of love to get it up and running.

When the phone rang that day, I answered absentmindedly. But when the caller announced that he was from Southwest Airlines, I snapped to attention. He’d been all over my new Web site, was very impressed, and also very interested in my training programs.

The airline was going to be putting its salespeople through training in the not-too-distant future and was evaluating its options. When I asked who else he was looking at, I was delighted to be included with the industry biggies.

Mr. Southwest had dozens of questions about my content, delivery models, remote training options, learning reinforcement and more. I answered every single one of them in glorious detail.

When he requested a proposal, I asked, “How soon?” When he answered that he wanted it in two days, I quickly agreed.

The proposal I sent to him via e-mail covered everything we had talked about in our conversation, plus a full range of pricing options. It was a masterpiece. I had high hopes that this opportunity would take my business to a whole new level.

I never heard from Mr. Southwest again. Even though I contacted him many times, he never called back.

Lesson Learned

It was my own fault. I mistakenly let my own eagerness to land this marquis customer outweigh my common sense.

The truth is I really needed the business at that time. After spending many months and lots of money to create, I was running short on cash. I should have known better, but I was seduced by the opportunity.

In retrospect, I failed to find out if Mr. Southwest was just exploring his options or actually in the final stages of decision making. It’s highly likely he was just doing the former.

Had I known that, I would never have written a detailed proposal. Instead, I would have focused on helping him determine the business value of making a change. I would have used my expertise to help him sell the concept internally and establish decision criteria favorable to my solution.

Over and over again, I see other sellers make similar mistakes when they have a hot prospect on the line. Like me, they expound on their capabilities and benefits. They willingly provide detailed information and do tons of extra work to create proposals or presentations—anything the prospects want.

While that puts you into the “nice” seller category, it’s not a good business decision to invest tons of time and effort to land a fantasy customer. Nor does it help your prospects make the best decision for their organization.

If Mr. Southwest was actually deciding in a couple days, I should have addressed the fact that I was a small boutique firm that didn’t compete head-on with the larger companies he was looking at.

Doing business with me would have been risky. I knew that. But I didn’t want to bring it up; I was hoping he wouldn’t notice!

I was so blinded by the opportunity that I was willing to do anything that he asked. It was delusional on my part. Wishful thinking. Hopeful. When we feel this seduction, we need to remind ourselves that “hope is not a strategy.”

While hot prospects may hold the promise of big paychecks, there’s often much that still needs to be determine if it’s a good fit for your company.

Don’t be overeager. Instead be ruthlessly realistic. Detach from the fantasy and assess your true chances. Bring up the tough questions.

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do for both you and your prospect.

About Jill Konrath:

Want to learn more about the new rules of selling to crazy-busy prospects? To get four FREE sales-accelerating tools and download two chapters of SNAP Selling, visit

Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into new accounts, speed up sales cycles and win big contracts. She's a frequent speaker at sales conferences. 

For more fresh sales strategies that work with crazy-busy prospects AND to get four free sales-accelerating tools, visit


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When Confidence Meets Arrogance . . .
by Jonathan Farrington

In my last post, I made a case for “confidence” being one of the defining factors of all successful people we know, and I wrote …

It is their inner belief that they can achieve anything they want to achieve, and enjoy as much success as they wish – however they personally define success.”

The post prompted a comment from Todd Spare who asked …

“This was another (always) interesting post. Thanks. I am wondering how best to test for the confidence level you discuss when interviewing prospective sales personnel. (If it has not been clearly demonstrated in past performance records). I believe “over” confidence displays itself in cockiness and conceit and that amount of confidence is harmful (to me, my company and the salesperson himself) in the long run. Any thoughts on how to test for the “right” confidence level ???”

My response …

“Hi Todd,
There is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance (cockiness). Confident people understand the need to continually learn and expand their commercial bandwidth. They understand what they know, but equally recognize what they don’t know. Conversely, arrogant people think they know it all, and as a consequence, don’t know what they don’t know!”

And that really is the point: Crossing that line from confidence to arrogance is so, so easy.

One can very easily formulate a list of political leaders; military leaders; artists; sporting icons; and even so called sales “gurus” – whatever interpretation you apply to that word – who were the architects of their own demise, because quite simply, they allowed their egos to rule their heads. They forgot their roots. They forgot the people who helped them on the way up – the same people who would inevitably suffer a similar loss of memory as our heroes traveled in the opposite direction downwards.

Humility is, in my view, one of the most admirable and rare traits of the truly successful: Take as an example the first interview in a new series we are launching for the Top Sales World magazine in September. Linda Richardson interviewed Gerhard Gschwandtner. Here we have two people at the very top of their game: The one who has created arguably the most successful global sales training company, written a host of best-selling books, serves on all the important sales-related committees, and is quite rightly acknowledged as the “significant” female sales thought leader of our generation. The other has created the empire that is Selling Power, and who continually prompts us to revise our thinking.

Their common characteristic? It’s that word again – HUMILITY. For example, whenever I need to communicate with them, I always receive a very prompt response. It is never “I am free at 11:45am Eastern next Thursday” but rather “Jonathan, I am free on xxxxxxx, which is best for you?”

I do not receive special treatment. I know that they are equally generous and thoughtful with everyone, because quite simply, they are not arrogant – they are quite simply confident!

Getting it” means different things for different people: Mrs Konrath first alerted me to the expression five years ago, and since then I have had the opportunity to better understand what she meant by it.

To me, it means “Win-win” and “Give and take” but usually “Give first (and generously) and ask questions later”

In fact, I intend to write an article on the topic, and reveal all the incredible people in my own network who really “get it” and those who think they do!!

The underlying message of this post is this: It really doesn’t matter how good you think you are, there will always be people who are better, and your ambition should be to emulate them.

Even if you think you know everything there is to know about your chosen topic, respect others who know everything there is to know about their chosen topic – being myopic is a very unattractive trait.

Everyone you meet in this world will know something you don’t know – do not be misled by their status, because status has no relevance when it comes to wisdom. Some of the most interesting and mind-expanding conversations I have ever had, have been with people in very humble situations – they probably couldn’t spell “arrogance” let alone describe it!

About The Author:
Jonathan Farrington
is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, and consultant, who has guided hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals around the world towards optimum performance levels. He is Chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates.

JF’s highly popular daily blog for dedicated business professionals, which attracts thousands of visitors every day, can be found at

He is also the creator and CEO of Top Sales World – the first online “Sales Hypermarket” Chairman of the Global Sales Council, and the man behind the Annual Top Sales Awards.

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Avoid Words and Phrases that are Sure to Cause Resistance
by Art Sobczak


It's difficult enough generating interest on calls, yet many salespeople make it worse by saying things that are sure to create resistance.

While fine-tuning my own openings and sales presentations, and those of sales reps at seminars and workshops, I not only look for words and phrases that will create interest, I try to screen out anything high on the P.R.C. Scale-- that's the Potentially Resistance-Creating Scale.

In opening statements, for example, your goal is to create interest, and spark desire in them to want to continue the conversation. It's all very forward-moving. Anything that could potentially create resistance blows your tires out before you leave the garage. Even if you spark some interest, the resistance might overwhelm it.

Here are words and phrases to avoid, all high on the P.R.C. Scale.

Telling People What They Should Do, Know, Or Think.

For example, "And I'm sure you're aware..."

"Of course you'll agree..."

"And I'm sure you're certainly familiar with us..."

As I was sitting here tapping away at my computer, a call center rep trying to push corporate credit cards called and launched into her pitch:

"... and of course you have read about our credit card in the top business magazines and seen the TV commercials on CNBC and Fox Business..."

I nosed in, saying, "No."

She asked, "No, you didn't hear about it, or no, you don't want it?"

"Both," I replied.

Making Unsubstantiated Puffed-Up Claims That Create Doubt.

Buyers are skeptical. Many are just downright negative, looking for the downside of everything.

Therefore when prospects hear claims that could be questioned, they are often treated with a raised eyebrow.

For example, "We're the top company..."

"We're the leading supplier of..."

"We're the most respected distributor..."

If it's important, and it's true, back up your claims.

"According to the Independent Testing Association, we're the supplier with the highest rating in the area regarding order fill rates, meaning you have the best chance with us of getting the parts you require, the day you need them, without having to wait for backorders."

Using Technical Jargon.

Granted, you might need to get into technical specs--with some people. Others don't care how the drill was wired; they buy it because it feels good in their hand.

Once you've lost someone by speaking in terms they don't understand, they might feel it's not worth the hassle to go back and get clarification. This obviously derails the forward-momentum process. Using techie terms also might cause the other person to feel ignorant or inferior.

While I was shopping for a small video camera, the techno-wizard sales clerk spewed babble that was atmospheres over my head. He lost me. I nodded in mock agreement, but he might as well have been speaking Swahili.

I just wanted to know if I could get good quality video suitable for the web with a variety of available lighting in typical office settings. (He didn't get the sale.)

Immediately Talking About Products/Services/Company In The Opening.

"... and I'm calling today to introduce our company and products to you."

Buyers only care about the RESULTS of what you are or have.

Saying You're Calling To "Tell Them" Something.

Give yourself extra P.R.C. points if used in conjunction with the previous point. As in,

"... and I'"m calling today to tell you about our products ..."

Using "Eraser" Words.

These erase the impact of what preceded them in a sentence, and include "but" and "however."

A sales rep said to a customer, "Well, yes we do have a better price, but you'll have to buy two cases to get it."

Instead, use "and" in place of the eraser:

"Yes, you can get the better price, a discount of 15%, by getting two cases."

Scrutinize the words you use like a lawyer picking apart clauses in a contract. Ask, "Is there anything here that someone could potentially resist, or object to?"

If so, slice it out. You'll find your calls progressing more smoothly and quickly.

Continue having your best sales week ever!

About the Author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing "rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities. Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.

Contact Info
Art Sobczak
Business By Phone Inc.
13254 Stevens St.
Omaha, NE, 68137

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Want Better Tele-Sales Results Tomorrow? Do These 7 Things Tonight
by Jim Domanski

If you want to improve your tele-sales results tomorrow start by preparing today.  Here are seven actions you can take tonight that will help make you more productive and effective tomorrow.

1. Create a Master List

Before you leave your office tonight prepare a 'master list' of the top 20-30 clients or prospects that you plan to call tomorrow. Put the names and numbers on a spread sheet or a legal pad so that when you arrive in the morning they are there, in front of you, ready to go.

This simple act gets you going; gets you dialing; get's you DOING.  The trouble with tele-sales or tele-prospecting is that it gets easy to avoid picking up the phone. We find ways to avoid it (as you'll see below) and consequently, many reps pick up the phone 30 or 40 or more minutes after they arrive.  Similarly, turning on the computer and beginning the day by 'searching' the database for prospects or clients can take considerable time.  Don't squander that time. Have those names ready to go for the morning.

2. Write Your Goals

After you have completed your master list, write your goals for the next day.  This is a classic 'time management' technique and no less important now than it was twenty five years ago.  Take the time to write down key goals such as dials, connects, leads generated, presentations made, sales made, revenue objectives, profit goals ...whatever.  
When you arrive in the morning knowing precisely what you want to accomplish, you increase your odds of making it happen.  Written goals bring clarity and focus. Waltzing in with a vague idea of what you want to achieve typically yields vague results. Be precise. Be laser like.

3. Clear Your Desk

How tempting is it to start your day by organizing your desk, clearing papers, and 'getting ready' for calling?  It's a task that can easily take 20 'delicious' minutes away from having to pick up the phone.  From another perspective, a chaotic desk in the morning often contributes to a chaotic approach to calling.  You search for a pen, paper, marketing material, notes ... whatever. You can't focus on a call because there is always something to pull you away.

A clean desk is refreshing. Because it's not cluttered, your mind is less cluttered. That means more focus and attention to the calls you are about to make. Clear off your desk the night before. The only thing on your desk should be your Master List and Goals for the Day Sheet.

Seriously, a simple thing like clearing your desk can have a SIGNIFICANT  impact on your bottom line results.

4. Clear Up Your E-Mails

E-mails are an absolutely wonderful way to procrastinate, aren't they?  You waltz in, crank up the computer and check your messages.  Invariably there are messages from the day before that 'absolutely need' a response (or so you think).  So you review your messages, compose replies, edit them and send them out.  And of course, there's always a message or two from a friend, and a newsletter you should read, a web site link that you can't resist, and before you know it, 40 minutes have past.  
Don't let the lure of e-mails distract you from your prime objective: to make calls, reach clients and sell or prospect. Answer your e-mails the day before so they are not lingering the next day.  When you do get in, resist the urge to check them until after you've called your Master List.

5. Clear Up Your Voice Mails

Voice mails are the audible equivalent to e-mails. Clear them up the night before. Make your return calls before you leave for the day.  Leave messages for those who you don't reach.  Call them back later the next morning but ONLY AFTER you've done an hour of calling.  
6. Arrive 15 Minutes Earlier

Want better results almost instantly? Go to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight, get up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow, leave for work sooner and get in 15 minutes early. That's it. Get in and start working  15 minutes earlier. Do the math.  In a week that amounts to an additional 1.25 hours of dialing.  In a month, that's five additional hours. In a year that equates to 60 more hours or 7.5 days of additional calling!  It cannot help but increase your results!

Arriving 15 minutes early reduces distraction because there are fewer people around you.  When your co-workers arrive they'll see you on phone. They'll be less likely to talk about what they did the night before.  In the meantime, you'll have a sale or a lead or an appointment before they ever switch on their computer!

7. Schedule Your First Call

Schedule your first call for the VERY first thing in the morning. In fact, block out an hour or more for calling. Treat it as an appointment with yourself and your success.  To make this happen, create an appointment or alarm in Outlook (or whatever you use) so that it pops up on your screen the moment your turn your computer on.  You'll have an instant reminder.


Assuming you arrive 15 minutes early to a clean desk with a Master List in plain sight, sit down, turn on your computer, and dial the first name on your list.

Et voila.

You've started the day off right. You'll get more sales, leads or appointments if only because you have purpose, direction, and focus with no niggling little distractions.

Repeat this process before you leave today. And do this every day. Watch your results pour in.

About The Author:

Teleconcepts Consulting works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products and services. For more information on consulting services and training programs, articles, and other resources visit or call 613-591-1998.

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Selling is Easy – Just Give People What They Want or Need! by Jonathan Farrington

When we agree to an idea or proposal, it’s because there’s something in it for us. It’s hard to influence people who can’t see what’s in it for them. Sounds one-sided, but it is true. Call it self-interest, selfishness or whatever. It is only human nature to ask, ‘What am I getting from this?’

People will say yes to your ideas if they meet their needs or match their view of life in the following areas:

• Principles and values

• Beliefs and opinions

• Needs and wants

So Give People What They Want or Need!

People agree to ideas and suggestions that match their needs or views of life. Underpinning all our lives are certain principles and values that we hold to be true. These become guidance for how we conduct our lives. They influence and mold our behavior. They can differ greatly from person to person and successful influencers always take principles and values into account.

But how?

• Notice what principles and values drive other people
• Ask questions and invite comment and reaction
• Check with those who know them well

Some examples of principles:

‘Integrity and fairness are an integral part of business dealings.’
‘I think that older people deserve courtesy and consideration.’
‘Moral behavior is part of the fabric of daily life.’

It would be unproductive to spend time attempting to dislodge these deep-seated principles. Instead, harness them to add leverage to your suggestions.

Beliefs & Opinions

Beliefs and opinions can be transient or short-term. Remember when you used to believe in Father Christmas; the Tooth Fairy; giants and witches? Proof can easily dislodge a belief. So too can time.

An early step on the road to influencing others may include having to change lingering beliefs or convictions before you can proceed further.

‘I think that BubbleClean washing machines break down more often than the Tumblingsystem range.’
‘I think that all politicians are corrupt.’
‘I never make decisions on the 13th.’

Each of these beliefs can be dealt with by logical questioning or providing proof or data.

Needs & Necessities

These are fundamental requirements – they have to be met if you are to influence others. Typical needs include: reliability, security, achieving a deadline, meeting a budget, keeping up to date.

Because of increasing competition, it is essential that we maintain an image and at the same time keep up to date.’
‘My team members are under great pressure, so it important to maintain their morale.’
‘The system must not only be reliable but secure, as well.’

Having uncovered needs, you may have to mold or reshape your ideas to dovetail with the requirements of others. Often, people have a hierarchy of needs, so it may be important to discover and use this:

Which is most important to you – reliability or security?’

Wants & Wishes

Wants and wishes are not essentials, just a wish list: ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely … if only’. But their fulfillment can be the cherry on your influencing trifle, placed on top with a flourish, after the other person has agreed to your proposal.

Depends what’s On Offer

Question: How will your suggestions benefit the other person?

The person or people you are influencing will interpret the benefits of your suggestions in different ways. Some will be interested in the features – the fine details, the nitty gritty of ideas. Others will say ‘How will I benefit?’ Others will seek out the advantages of proposals – how the benefits are different.

Features, Benefits & Advantages

No doubt you are familiar with the differences between features, benefits and advantages, but it is worth re-iterating.


These are built-in aspects of your idea or suggestion – timing, costs, resources etc. They will remain locked up in your idea whether the other person agrees or not.


These are far more important than the features of your proposal. They translate boring old features into exciting statements which show clearly how others will gain.

This new hardware is made in Germany (feature) which means that we will save time and money on spare parts (benefit).


These are comparative benefits e.g. – increased revenue, greater savings, and faster turn-around.

In Summary: The Benefit Balance Sheet

Most people do not agree whole-heartedly to an idea. There is usually something that niggles, however well you’ve addressed their concerns. In the end, when we finally say yes to a proposal, it is because the benefits outweigh any disadvantages.

As you plan and prepare your influencing case, list all the benefits and advantages of your suggestions. Use them to tip the balance in favor of yes.

Selling really is that easy!

About The Author:

Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant, and sales strategist, who has guided hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals around the world towards optimum performance levels.

He is the CEO of Top Sales Associates, Chairman of The jf Corporation and the creator of, and the annual Top Sales & Marketing Awards

Jonathan is based in London and Paris.

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I Used To Do Sales, Then It Got Too Tough … By Steve Waterhouse

What makes sales so difficult for some people and so much easier for others? Why do some companies thrive and others fail to catch on, even when they have a great concept? What is the secret to success in sales? Obviously, there are many answers to these questions, but I have discovered one that makes sales easier for almost everyone.

The answer is… (not yet)

John, the cable guy, was at my house to fix the converter box that had decided to erase all of the programs we had recorded and refuse to record any more. Not believing it was the box’s prerogative to make those decisions, I called for help. John was very sharp. His ability with people was far beyond what I had observed from his peers who had been here on other occasions. I had an interesting conversation with him as he swapped out the box.

As he was leaving John asked, “What do you do?” When I told him that I was a sales consultant and trainer he lit up. “I did cable sales for a while. Then we ran out of good leads and it got too tough. I made good money when we had good leads, but when we had to just do cold calling, it took too long to find an interested person.”

What he was saying is that selling is easy if you are selling to people who want to buy. What a concept! Better leads = more sales.

The answer is effective Prospecting!

At its most basic, sales could be reduced to these two steps:

1. Find a willing party with a need.

2. Show them a solution that fits their need.

The better the willing party’s need matches your solution, the higher the probability that a sale will be made. Even a relatively unskilled sales person can sell if the match is right. So, given that assumption, isn’t it worth some effort to provide your sales team with better leads?

Unfortunately, too many companies put 100% of the prospecting on the backs of their sales team. Since many of the effective techniques for prospecting are more clerical or marketing related, shouldn’t we reevaluate this approach? A $15/hour clerk can do mailings and free up a $50/hour sales person for real selling time.

Our local cable company is still advertising for sales people. Their turnover is awful. What would happen if they built a better lead generating system and kept their sales people in front of potential buyers? John might still be selling and bringing in new customers.

My recommendations:

A. If you are a company executive, build a prospecting system that generates good leads.

B. If you are a sales rep who has to fend for yourself, build a system and find someone cheap to manage it for you.

Good prospects = Good sales! You might also be interested in my article, "10 Ways to Generate Great Sales Leads". To get a copy, simply email


Steve Waterhouse is Principal and Founder of Waterhouse Group (, a sales consulting and training company that helps companies dramatically increase their sales. He can be reached at 1-800-57-LEARN or

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Seven Insights To Use For Getting Your Next Job
by Roy Chitwood, CSP

Regardless of your educational background, degrees, work experience or accomplishments, your future employment depends on one thing: how well you can sell.

I'm not talking about selling a specific product or service. I mean selling yourself and your ideas. Your ability to do this will determine whether or not you get the job.

Selling is simply effective communication, and the first rule in communication is that people prefer talking to listening.

So, success in a job interview is determined by your ability to get the interviewer talking. It's her job to get information from you, but that isn't what will get you the job.

That's because, in a typical job interview, the interviewer asks all the questions and you do all the talking. Sure, she needs to know about your background, education and experience. But as you're rambling on and on saying the same things every other job applicant says, she's wondering how quickly she can terminate the interview so she can get on to more important things.

Using some principles, you can gain control of the conversation, get the interviewer talking and glean the information you need to succeed in the interview and get the job.

The following are seven insights for job interviews:

One: The first few seconds of the interview are critical - the way you look, dress, say "Hello" and shake hands. These give the interviewer clues about your personality, social skills, confidence and experience. To make a positive first impression, use these seven tips:

- Smile (the universal sign of friendship).

- Be sincerely interested in others.

- Talk in terms of others' interests. Remember your interviewer always has time to talk about what she wants to talk about.

- Say their name. The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of a person's name. Overusing someone's name, however, is worse than not using it at all. We've all been in situations where an overzealous salesperson uses the other person's name ad nauseam. Use the interviewer's name, but do it judiciously.

- Compliment. Don't comment on frivolous things like the art on the wall, fish in an aquarium or trophy on the desk. Come prepared to offer two sincere compliments to your interviewer - on his position, achievements, promotions, or about the company's recent success.

- Be a good listener. I've never heard an interviewer say, "This applicant listened too much."

- Make the other person feel important. Do it sincerely.

Two: This is when the interviewer determines if the applicant is qualified. Typically the interviewer asks a question about the applicant's past experience, background, etc., and the applicant rattles on and on, instead of just answering the question. To be successful, you're going to need to gain control of the communication process by asking questions and getting the interviewer talking.

One of the biggest mistakes applicants make is asking closed-ended questions that turn the interview into an interrogation. Avoid questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no" response. Rudyard Kipling once wrote, "I keep six honest serving men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who." Almost any closed-ended question can be easily transformed into an open-ended question with the use of one of these words.

Three: In this step, you'll determine if the position fits you and your qualifications. Don't jump to conclusions about the information or questions you may get from the interviewer. Several years ago, a friend of mine applied for a senior management position. During the interview, the interviewer asked questions that didn't seem to relate to the position. Later my friend learned from the interviewer that he was more qualified for another senior level position and was subsequently hired to fill it. If the position doesn't fit, or you're not interested in it, however, gracefully terminate the interview.

Four: You are the company you're selling. Begin with something like, "Linda, let me tell you a little about myself."

The following are areas to cover during this step because they are questions the interviewer will likely have on her mind: "I don't know who you are," "I don't know your background," "I don't know your education," "I don't know what you stand for," "I don't know your past employers," "I don't know your track record," "I don't know your reputation" and "Now, why should I hire you?"

Five: In a selling situation, this is where you would talk about your product or service. However, on a job interview, you are the product/service. Therefore, relate how your education, experience, background, etc., will benefit the company with a series of feature-benefit-reaction sequences. "My experience working with multiple channel distribution in the Northwest (feature) will allow me to immediately impact sales in this important territory (benefit). How would that help you achieve your sales goals for the first quarter?" (reaction)

Now you'll utilize the information you obtained through listening and questioning in the first four steps. Come prepared with a standard list of three or four feature-benefit-reaction sequences (keeping your reaction questions open-ended), then customize them based on the information you gathered. Conclude this step by asking, "What questions do you have?" At this point, you can inquire about compensation and estimated start date, "When would you like the new person to start?"

Six: Now use this closing statement: "If I can arrange my schedule to start on the date you would like, can you think of any reason why you wouldn't hire me?" The wording of this statement should be exactly as I've stated - concise and to the point. You're not asking for a determination that you're qualified or that the interviewer is interested in hiring you - it's simply a mutual agreement to move forward. If you get an objection such as, "I have several more interviews scheduled," or "I want to give it more thought," acknowledge the objection with "I see," "I understand," or "I can appreciate that."

Seven: Regardless of whether you get the job, cement the relationship by expressing your appreciation and thanking the interviewer for her time and interest. Follow up the interview with a handwritten, mailed thank you card. It shows you are a professional, and it's something tangible the interviewer can keep for future reference.

About The Author:

ROY CHITWOOD is an author and consultant on sales and customer service. He is the former president and chairman of Sales & Marketing Executives International and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle, 800-488-4629, If you would like to subscribe to his free Tip of the Week, "You're on Track," please e-mail

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