September 2011 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • A Horrible Prospecting Email - THIS Is Selling? by Art Sobczak >>
  • 3 Hard-Earned Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks by Jill Konrath >>
  • How To Communicate Effectively With A Complaining Customer by Jonathan Farrington >>
  • Effective Follow-Up by Tim Connor, CSP >>
  • 7 Things You Must Do To Prepare For Your First Sales Call by Jim Meisenheimer >>
  • Schooled by a Shoe Salesman Turning a Simple Shopping Trip into a Great Learning Experience by Tim Wackel >>
  • Never, Ever Drop Price!!! By Dan Adams >>

A Horrible Prospecting Email - THIS Is Selling? by Art Sobczak


For those salespeople and managers out there who whine about how hard it is to actually talk to people, and that they are contacting so many more people by email because its more effective, here's something to chew on.

Here's an example of what likely is being sent by "salespeople" perhaps hundreds of thousands of times daily, who believe that this is selling.

I actually received this. Since I didn't ask for permission to use it, I am taking out the name and company info.


Hello Art

This is (name) with (company) and I wanted to touch base with you regarding your interest in (company).

I know you guys had expressed interest a while back and I wanted to make sure I can answer any questions for you or get you up to a trial account.

Let me know if you need any help with these steps and I'd be happy to assist you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

(contact info)

A bit of background: Again, this was an email I personally received, meaning that the guy had to go through a couple of steps with my spam system to get it through to me, meaning it came from a individual, not an email blast.

Also, I have never done business with this company, nor to my recollection have I spoken with them. If I did, it was a very brief call where I told them I was not a prospect for their email lists of IT professionals.

Let's break it down and see just how bad it is.


-"This is (name) with (company) and I wanted to touch base with you..."

Ahh, the old Baseball Opening... "touching base." Wow, there's some value. Also, he used "just," which as I discuss in "Smart Calling" is a word that minimizes you and your message.


- "...regarding your interest in (company)."

This is actually insulting, since I never had any interest in that company.


- "I know you guys had expressed interest a while back..."

Again, see my previous point. No, I never expressed any interest. So, they either have their information wrong (most likely) or they are flat out lying in an attempt to lead people to believe there had been some contact and interest. If you feel my thinking on this is out there, I can tell you from experience that there are companies and reps that use this as part of their approach. And please, enough of the "you guys." That might be OK for social conversation or texting with friends, but not in business correspondence or conversation.


-... and I wanted to make sure I can answer any questions for you or get you up to a trial account."

If someone had questions, that would presume interest, which of course there was none. Then he is attempting to close on a decision, a trial account. He's asking me to commit to do something, when zero value has been discussed so far.


-" Let me know if you need any help with these steps and I'd be happy to assist you. I look forward to hearing from you."

You just can't make this stuff up. He's looking forward to hearing from me? Oh yeah, I was so compelled by this note that I couldn't wait to jump on the phone, contact him, and get that trial account going.

Ok, so I haven't offered a tip this week, I'm just ripping on something I suggest you avoid at all costs. Let's make this interactive. I'll post this at my blog, and I'd like to get your comments on it, and also any suggestions or best practices you employ successfully using email as part of your sales process. Go to

Make this 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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3 Hard-Earned Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks by Jill Konrath

The pathway to sales success is strewn with lost opportunities, embarrassing moments and downright stupid mistakes. In my opinion, one major difference between top sellers and average ones is their ability to turn these disasters into growth opportunities.

Painful though it might be, top performers revisit their gaffes to figure out how they can avoid similar outcomes in the future. Scarred, but not beaten, they gradually learn what it takes to be successful.

I know. I've been there. Over the years, I've had more than my share of blunders. And just the other day, some of my biggest ones came flooding back to me as I was driving to do a training program for a local printing company.

When I exited the highway onto Como Avenue, I was immediately transported back to my days as a Xerox sales trainee when I covered the 55414 zip code. It's where I learned many invaluable lessons that I still embrace today.

Lesson #1: How to Get Unstuck
After finishing the Xerox training program, I was assigned to follow Jim Farrell for several weeks to learn the ropes. But finally the day came when I was sent out on my own.

At 9 a.m., I pulled up in front of Quality Products to begin my cold calls. But I couldn't get out. I was terrified and tongue-tied, convinced that my sales career was over before it even began. After nearly 30 minutes of being paralyzed in my seat, a song wiggled its way into my mind: "I Have Confidence" from the movie, The Sound of Music.

I started singing to myself, quietly at first, then louder and louder. I was particularly enamored with the refrain, "I have confidence in confidence alone, and as you can see, I have confidence in me."

I really didn't believe the words, but they got me moving off my "stuckness." I pulled out my cold call plan that I'd studiously prepared the night before and reviewed it. I practiced my opening lines again and again. Then I got out of the car and went in. By the end of the day, I'd made over 20 cold calls and uncovered some potential prospects.

Over the years, I've been confronted with many tough situations that I didn't know how to handle because I lacked the requisite knowledge or experience. I've learned that you can't know everything before you start. And I've also learned that "movement" is key to discovering the answers.

Lesson #2: How to Get to Higher Level Decision Makers

One of the prospects I uncovered while cold-calling was Trussbilt, a company directly across Como Avenue from Quality Products. They've been gone for many years, replaced by the printing company where I was doing the training. The deja vu I felt when I walked into their offices was palpable.

Back then, I was working with Tinsey, a very articulate woman who told me she was in charge of the copier decision. Shortly after our first meeting, I read a book that said salespeople should only work with the top dogs - not their underlings.

Since my contact was an administrative assistant, I realized I needed to rectify the situation immediately. I called Mr. Big directly and set up a time to meet. Then I prepared like crazy to ensure I did a great job.

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to capitalize on this opportunity. Tinsey came to the lobby to escort her boss's visitor to his office. When saw me, she demanded to know why I was there.

"I'm here to see Mr. Big," I replied, suddenly not so sure if the tactic I'd taken was appropriate. I was right. She proceeded to yell at me like I've never been yelled at before.

I was appalled. Mortified. And suddenly very light-headed and shaky. I fainted dead away right there in the middle of the lobby.

As you can imagine, I never did business with Tinsey or Trussbilt. But I sure did learn that once you're working with someone it's never appropriate to go around them without their knowledge. They'll get mad. Furious. It's a normal human reaction.

Today, to ensure my ability to work with whomever I want in an account, I always tell prospects, "Usually when I'm working with clients, I need to talk with the VP of Sales, Regional Sales Directors and sometimes even Marketing." Doing it this way prevents the people problems that can derail your sales efforts.

Lesson #3: How to Cut the Crap & Net it Out

The Kaplan Company was just down the street and around the corner from Trussbilt. When I walked in the front door, there were at least 30 desks filled with women who were busy doing order entry and handling customer service issues.

I told the receptionist that I wanted to speak to the person who made copier decisions. After a quick check with the boss, she escorted me past all those working women into his office.

"Sit down," he said gruffly. "You've got 5 minutes. Talk."

"If you're busy, I'll come," I said, trying to be gracious.

"Nope," he stated. " 5 minutes. Tell me why I should buy your product. Your 5 minutes is starting now."

I mumbled. I stumbled. I tried to engage him in conversation. I tried to explain that I needed more time. He wasn't one bit interested. After 5 minutes, he arose and said, "Your time is up. You can leave now."

That ticked me off. I told him he was rude and obnoxious. Then I turned and stormed out of his office past all those women, shouting back at him, "I'll never sell you a Xerox machine. You don't deserve to work with Xerox."

I know it's hard to believe, but I really did lose my cool. And I'm also sure that guy never wanted to work with Xerox again. But he had a point. I couldn't concisely state why he should listen to me.

I wanted to build a relationship and warm up the call. That made me feel better. He was a busy man who chose to use his time judiciously. I didn't respect his needs. After that cold-calling disaster, I learned to net it out. That lesson is even more important today than it was years ago.

The School of Hard Knocks can be brutal. If you're making sales calls, you know how tough it can be. Every time you're knocked down or out, you have to make a choice about how to react. Are you going to get up again? Will you learn from the situation?

The hardest thing in the world is to look at your own complicity in the situation, yet that where the maximum growth is for you and ultimately, the key to your long-term sales success.

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

How To Communicate Effectively With A Complaining Customer by Jonathan Farrington

Handling any sort of conflict requires you to draw on all your resources. In particularly your communication skills. The reality is that we all have many communication skills but don’t always use them effectively and certainly we do not take the opportunity to improve them as often as we should.

We relate to people on two levels:

Consciously: when we carefully select our words, gestures and behaviours.

Subconsciously: when unknowingly we send out subliminal messages. These often have the most impact on people and can make them feel uncomfortable.

Listening Skills:

There are two aspects to communicating: receiving and sending messages i.e. it is a two way phenomenon.

Would you say you are a good listener? Consider the following questions:

Do you have a tendency to interrupt or finish other people’s sentences?

Do you find yourself losing patience or concentration?

If so, you need to work on your listening skills. Or:

Do you stay focused when another person communicates with you?

Do you make notes, give good feedback and demonstrate that they have your full attention?

Showing people you are listening by nodding and asking questions is a good way of demonstrating that you are taking them seriously and interested in what they have to say.

Listening Skills:

Listening, however, is a difficult task for most people. It requires us to:

Block out all distractions

Be observant – use eyes and ears more than mouth!

Keep an open mind and not be judgmental

Stay calm, not rising to any bait

Keep all personal prejudices at bay

Listen all the way through

And also listen for what is not being said – read between the lines.


In difficult situations most people are careful to choose their words by avoiding:

Inflammatory language, e.g. “That’s impossible, no one else has complained about that”

Criticism, e.g.“You should have contacted … dept”

Swearing, e.g.!!**?*!!

Insensitive language, e.g. “It’s not designed for people over XXX kilos”

Negativity, e.g. “It’s not possible- we can’t do that”

Overbearing, e.g. “It absolutely must be returned by …”

Non-Verbal Language:

Inappropriate words can hurt or incite anger in another. However, it is not the most powerful form of communication. According to the experts the breakdown is a follows:

Language: Words used etc 7%
Voice: Tone, pitch etc 38%
Visual: Gestures, facial expression etc 55%

This is particularly true of communication relating to emotion. Positive language delivered in an abrasive or monotonous voice will have a negative impact. We’re more aware of how people say things than what they say.

Body Language:

Body language is understood by most people in business today. Inappropriate facial expressions, posture, sharp movements can make a situation much worse.

As a brief reminder. If you want to keep your unhappy customer calm, avoid:

Putting up barriers – folded arms, glaring, hiding behind folders or a desk

Aggressive gestures – finger pointing, posturing, hands on hips, feet apart

Showing you are bored or irritated – foot tapping, sighing, looking at the clock

Stay relaxed, use open gestures; make good but not excessive eye contact. Even when you are talking on the telephone, these gestures can communicate through your voice. Be careful.

Staying Positive:

Why is a positive style of communication helpful?

It helps to keep everyone calm, including you

Taking control of your actions gives you time to think, observe and stay objective

It helps to prevent the situation from becoming worse, which would only give the customer something else to complain about

It helps to counteract aggression – it’s difficult to shout at someone who is calm and controlled

You are continuing to act in a professional manner, on behalf of the company, no matter how you might feel about the situation and the customer, it is important to remember that you are an ambassador.

Telephone Communication Skills:

One of the biggest disadvantages when trying to resolve a complaint with an angry customer over the telephone is the heavy reliance on language and voice. The phone is a sensitive instrument and people pick up on sighs and irritation. They also know whether or not you are eating, drinking or smoking. But they can’t see your face and have no idea whether or not you are taking them seriously. You can:

Smile into the phone – it makes you sound friendly and caring

Give plenty of verbal feedback to let them know you are listening; it’s no good nodding unless you have a video phone!

Paraphrase and summarize to ensure you have fully understood

Press the silent button if you need to confer with someone in the office, no one likes to hear themselves being talked about.

Try to create an atmosphere of trust and sincerity – they need to know you’re not just saying anything to get rid of them.

Written Communication:

When you only have words to play with, you have to make them work for you.

Whether you are writing a letter, sending an email or even a text message by phone, attention to detail is essential.

You never know who is going to see your written communication. It can always be used as evidence so you need to be clear, concise and correct.

Presentation speaks volumes and will go a long way to portraying the sort of company you are. Spelling, syntax, positioning of words all count.

Most importantly, make it a rule to reply as quickly as possible. Customers want a speedy response; at least, to their problem even if it takes a bit of time to sort out a solution. Days, even weeks, of silence will just make them more frustrated!

In Summary:

Successful organizations welcome complaints, because it usually means that the customer wants to reach a resolve, they do not want to go elsewhere. Often, our efficiency in dealing promptly, sympathetically and fairly with a complaint will actually strengthen our relationship with the customer.

At the end of the day customers expect us to deliver the “Five Rights”:

The right product
At the right price
Delivered to the right place
At the right time
In the right way.

Not too much to ask for is it? In return we can expect their loyalty and repeat business but we must always work to earn the right to that business.

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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Effective Follow-Up by Tim Connor, CSP

Words of wisdom for this week.

"You will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time you must make it."
Charles Buxton

Customers and prospects have a great deal on their plates today. They have the demands of their customers, bosses, fellow staff members, suppliers and a variety of organizational, government, financial, departmental and industry issues that take a great deal of their time and energy.

When salespeople call on these busy prospects or clients they must realize that what they are selling is not the most important thing in that prospect's life or business. Although what they are selling might be of interest and value to them, they often just do not have the time to do the salesperson's work - the follow-up.

More often than I can state over the years, when I have followed up with a prospect who has been considering my services, I have heard, "thanks for getting back to me. I had every intention of calling you but have just been too busy. Lets get this program rolling."

Why don't salespeople follow-up?

1. They fear a no or a rejection.

2. They believe if the prospect is really interested they will call and help the salesperson do their job.

3. They are too disorganized and are not even aware that they should follow up.

4. They lack a positive attitude about their product, service or offer.

5. They know the prospect is not going to buy, so why bother.

6. They believe the prospect is too busy to talk with them or to see them.

7. They are too scattered.

8. They lack confidence in themselves or their organization and its services or products.

9. They believe their competitors are going to get the business anyway.

10. They don't have an effective follow up strategy.

11. They have nothing else to say or offer.

12. They knew they had a poor prospect anyway, so why bother.

Guilty of any of these? I have been, and I have been selling for over forty years. It is easy to fall into the - no follow up trap. It is just as easy to prospect effectively, present your product with confidence and professionalism and then the follow up is a natural conclusion to the previous step, if you didn't close the sale on that visit, for whatever reason.

Here are a few ideas to consider when you next follow up a sales call.

1. Don't open with a closed ended question like, "have you made a decision yet?" Rather, "where are you in the decision process?"

2. Don't ask, "did you get the information I sent?" Rather, "what is your impression of it?"

3. Don't ask, "when can we get together to discuss our next step?" Rather, "let's get together next Monday to….."

4. Don't ask, "do you have any question about the proposal?" Rather, "Is there anything in the proposal that would prevent us from getting this order started?"

These are only four examples. Now see if you can come up with several of your own.

About The Author: Tim Connor, CSP
Speaker, Trainer, Best selling author of over 63 titles, Box 397, Davidson, N.C. 28036 USA, 704-895-1230 (voice) - 704-895-1231 (fax)

TO HIRE TIM - Contact;

Tim Connor, CSP
Speaker, Trainer, Best Selling Author
Box 397 Davidson, N.C. 28036 USA
704-895-1230 (voice) 704-895-1231 (fax) (email) (Website)

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7 Things You Must Do To Prepare For Your First Sales Call by Jim Meisenheimer

Whenever you have a sales call scheduled with a new sales prospect - treat it like a golden opportunity.

Because in fact this first sales call, could be a golden opportunity for you. What if your new sales prospect has the potential to become your largest customer.

What would the lifetime value of your largest customer add up to?

Here are seven things you must do before calling on every new sales prospect.

Thing you must do # 1:

Be sure to do your homework and that means making Google your first stop. Do a search on the person's name, the company name, and the name of their best elling product. You might be surprised with the results you get.

You should also go to: Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of the name of a person and / or the name of a company.

Thing you must do # 2:

Now this is a little thing that can have a big impact. It can create a powerful first impression for you.

Go to an office supply store and buy a dozen red file folders. While you're at the store buy Avery product #8366 which are white file folder labels. Prepare a label with the name of your new sales prospect.

Imagine your prospect's reaction to seeing his name on this red file folder. He will immediately consider you professional, organized, successful, and different from most other salespeople he has experienced in the past.

A little thing with a big impact.

Thing you must do # 3:

You must have a written sales call objective for your first sales call. Your written objectives for this sales call can include: to build rapport, establish credibility, to ask 3-5 open-ended questions, to identify one common interest you share, and to secure agreement for your second meeting.

Your written sales call objectives will scream"Professionalism." By contrast most salespeople arrive like a tourist just taking in the sights - pity the poor sales prospect who must put up with this display of mediocrity.

Thing you must do # 4:

To get the ball rolling, building rapport and establishing credibility, I suggest you prepare and practice 3 - 5 open-ended questions.

Nothing shows your interest more than the questions you ask - so be sure to ask good questions. You can start with . . . tell me about your business . . . what are your responsibilities . . . in addition to you who else is involved in making decisions for . . . what are the biggest challenges you're facing growing your business?

Once again asking these questions will demonstrate your interest and professionalism and differentiate you from most salespeople.

Thing you must do # 5:

If you enjoy playing the telephone tag game you can immediately proceed to # 6. It's absolutely amazing how many salespeople neglect to secure the meeting time and date for the second meeting.

Once you have qualified your sales prospect as a potential customer don't forget and never hesitate to ask for the second meeting. Do not attempt improvisation. Prepare and practice how you will ask for the second meeting.

Thing you must do # 6:

This next thing is especially important if you happen to be a serious person. Before you get out of your car check your rearview mirror to make sure you're smiling.

Trust me, when you're caught in traffic, running a little late, just ended a telephone call with a disgruntled customer - please don't think you have a happy face on.

Check your mirror to check your smile.

Thing you must do # 7:

Try this affirmation on for size "This will be my best sales call ever to a new sales prospect." Right after you check to make sure you're smiling saying this affirmation fills your mind with positive thoughts and words squeezing out any potential negativity.

You may not realize this but you are in complete control of your thoughts. And of course you know how you think is everything!

There's a huge difference between self-doubt and self-confidence and both are controlled by your thoughts.

This affirmation creates the perfect mindset for a very successful sales call.

Just try it once and see how much better you feel.

Now you know the 7 things you must do to prepare for your first sales call. Believe it or not you now have a 7-point system for making sales calls on new prospects.

Use this system to make every sales call better than the last one.

Let's go sell something . . .

About The Author:

Make sure you check out Jim's Sales Trailblazer program:

Jim is a Sales Strategist and is the creator of No-Brainer Selling Skills. He shows salespeople and entrepreneurs how to increase sales, earn more money, have more fun, and how to do it all in less time. His focus is on practical ideas that get immediate results. He offers Advanced Sales Management Workshops, Sales Coaching, Consulting, In-house Sales Training Programs, and a wide variety of Learning Tools i.e. books, special reports, sales manuals, and CDs.Jim Meisenheimer is a member of The National Speakers Association, where he earned the C.S.P. designation, Certified Speaking Professional. He has authored five books including, "The 12 Best Questions To Ask Customers," and the recently published “57 Ways To Take Control Of Your Time And Your Life”.


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Schooled by a Shoe Salesman Turning a Simple Shopping Trip into a Great Learning Experience by Tim Wackel

My wife and I are the proud parents of two great kids—a teenage son and daughter. Our daughter is getting ready to start college next week, and our son is like almost every other 15 year old, living life large with lots of attention on comfort and few worries about appearance.

Last week I promised my son, Nicholas, that I would take him to the mall to buy new shoes. He loves to wear athletic shoes (or is still okay to call them sneakers?) and prefers to wear them until they fall part apart at the seams.

This shopping trip was going to be different because Nicholas decided he would expand his closet and buy a pair of Top-Siders (seems that these are making a bit of a come back on high school campuses). I figured we could find these at almost any department store but was surprised to find only one store in the mall that carried a variety of sizes and styles that he was interested in.

I find myself standing in Nordstrom’s shoe department surrounded by hundreds of pairs of shoes and a few well-dressed, professional looking salesmen. One of the younger men working in the department approached us and asked, “What brings you into the store today?” What happened next was one of the better (and least expected) lessons in “selling” that I’ve experienced in quite some time.

I have to confess that I’ve never thought of retail as being much of a selling environment. Point customers in the right direction, answer a few questions about sizes and availability, ring up the order and you’re done. So what valuable lessons did I learn in Nordstrom that day? Here are the four principles that everyone will recognize but very few consistently apply.

#1. Open questions close more business
The question that you are asked most often when you walk into a retail store is, “Can I help you?” This is a bad question, plain and simple. It’s closed and requires no thinking on your part. Most shoppers will simply blurt out “no” hoping to avoid premature pressure to buy something.

Let’s go back and look at what the Nordstrom shoes salesman asked:”What brings you into the store today?” Not exactly rocket science but this question encouraged me to share that Nicholas was interested in divesting his collection of athletic shoes and wanted to look at some Top-Siders. A conversation was born… what style, size and color? When did he plan to wear them? Looking for something dressy or just something to kick around in?

Ask questions that are thought provoking, not mind numbing.

#2.  Make it easy for customers to decide
Nicholas had pretty much lasered in on one particular style of shoe, but when the shoe salesman returned from the stock room he had several boxes in tow.

Nick immediately tried on his favorite style and began walking the floor to check out the fit. I could tell by his expression that he felt the shoe looked better on the shelf than it did on his foot. The salesman also picked up on this and suggested that Nicholas try on one or two of the other styles that he had taken the liberty to bring out of stock. After all, they were right there and it wouldn’t take but a minute to check them out.

The second pair generated a more favorable response but the third pair was a home run. Give your customer painless choices. What looks good in the window doesn’t always look good on your foot. Think ahead and develop contingencies. You’ll be glad you did.

#3. Look for unidentified needs 
Nick had picked out the right shoe, and we had the right size. We were ready to leave when the salesman asked permission to show us what he had in the remaining boxes he brought out of the stock room. He politely mentioned that he couldn’t help but notice how much “good use” Nick had gotten out of the shoes he was currently wearing. He then asked if my son would be interested in seeing some brand new athletic shoes in the latest back to school styles—need I say more?

Want to be more successful at up-selling? Read (and re-read) #3 above.

#4. Would you like some fries with that?
Nick and I have our purchases picked out, and we’re ready to leave when the young man pulls something out of his back pocket. As we walk to the register he shows me (the economic buyer) a shoe tree and shares facts about how these beautiful cedar appliances will extend the life of Nick’s new shoes (assuming I can get him to use them!). I hadn’t expressed any interest in shoe trees but this sales professional picked up on my frustration with how fast Nick could destroy a pair of shoes. He had the courage and the smarts to offer something we both knew had value. What was the worst thing that could happen?

I left the store that day with a lighter wallet but I got a real "deal" on some great sales training. These four simple (but powerful) lessons have been around for a long time, but very few reps consistently apply them.

Are you looking for ideas on how to take your craft to the next level? If not, you should be. You'll be surprised by what you can learn and amazed at where these lessons can take place.

Speaking of Sales is about finding, winning and keeping customers for life. If that’s part of your job, then you won’t want to miss the next issue.

Until then,


Tim Wackel

Tim Wackel is hired by sales executives who want their teams to blow the number away. Tim’s “no excuses” programs are insightful, engaging and focused on providing real world strategies that salespeople can (and will!) implement right away. Sales teams from BMC Software, Cisco, Fossil, Hewlett Packard, Allstate, Thomson Reuters, Raytheon, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Catalina Marketing, Philips Medical Systems, Red Hat and TXU Energy count on Tim to help them create more success in business and in life.

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Never, Ever Drop Price!!! By Dan Adams


My team sells technology consulting services. I am pleased in general with our skill level. We are not perfect but are deploying more and more of your best practices ever day. 

One immediate challenge concerns how we address final negotiations with our clients. Often we are the recommended provider going into the closing stage. In most cases we come out of the meeting with the sale but at a high cost to our profit margins. In my opinion we cave too early and drop price to get the sale. Any ideas to help our team? 

Summerfield, North Carolina

Great question! You are not alone. Many clients present a similar challenge.

My first recommendation is for you to read or re-read A TTS WHITE PAPER ON ADDRESSING THE PRICE OBJECTION

In summary, there are four major questions to ask in response to price objections:  

  1. "Compared with what?" Or, "Can you explain that?"
  2.  "Are you ready to make your final decision now?"
  3.  "Are You 110% convinced that we offer the right solution and there are absolutely no other issues to be addressed?"
  4. "Please share with me what the price difference is. I will make a sound case to my management and do my very best to narrow the gap."

It sounds like your team is not handling the fourth question well enough.  I think it would help to expose your team to some financial/accounting basics so they can understand the powerful negative impact their negotiation skills have on the net income of your company. I am specifically referring to the impact of price drops/discounts on your company's income statement. 

Let's say you are selling a $1,000,000 service or technology solution.  At the negotiation table the customer shares with the sales rep and sales manager (in response to question #4 above) that if they simply discount 10% the business is yours.  What is the typical response?  Most average mangers and reps leap at the deal and close it at a sell price of $900,000, high-fiving each other as they leave the building.  

You might say, Dan, what's wrong with a $900,000 deal in this economic environment? You are correct. I'm always happy to get any deal but if you know anything about my sales philosophy or my TTS workshops you know I always want superstardom! Let's take a look at what happened vs. what could have happened.   

In the scenario above, the split-second decision by the manger and rep to lower price by 10% cost their company $100,000 in lost revenue.  Given that the company's costs don't change, the discount drops right down to the bottom line.  It will cost the company $100,000 in profit. That's no small potatoes.  That could represent the engineering and development cost for a new product or the yearly cost of an additional head count in sales.  

A study of 2,463 companies by McKinsey & Russell Boisjoly, Dean School of Business Fairfield University  looked at the impact on operating profits given changes to various cost and price levers. They concluded that the marginal impact of holding or improving price could provide the most impact on corporate operating profits.  

Superstars are very aware of this accounting/finance reality and therefore gauge their response. They understand why I preach: "NEVER, EVER DROP PRICE".  Well, how do you reply to the client who is requesting a 10% discount to close the deal? Simple, you make use of the information depicted in the TTS Price Pressure Response Continuum graphic shown below. 

The TTS Price Pressure Response Continuum:

The theory is that a rep can respond to price pressure in a variety of ways from the Great (selling value and justifying the price) to the Bad (dropping price).  Let's take a look at all the options depicted. 

Sell and Justify The Value 
Superstars know how to use the "Justification" sections of their corporate and product value propositions to sell the value of their offering. They are very comfortable being higher in "initial sell price". They can use a customized ROI or TCO (return on investment, total cost of ownership) analysis to respond to a client who demands a lower price with powerful, customized proof points on exactly why their offering is worth more.   

Offer Less Expensive Product/Service 
Superstars know that margins and profits are protected by offering a lower tier product in response to price pressure.  They can then use their skills to up-sell based on the unique benefits of a higher tier offering.

Use Less Costly Materials 
Superstars know that if materials' costs drop, a lower selling price will not impact the income statement as much as selling a higher-cost solution at a lower price.

Expand The Offering - More Business and/or an Extended Agreement Term 
Superstars know that quid pro quo must be used if a lower price is to be considered. The quid pro quo should include at a minimum more business and/or a longer agreement term.  For example, a one-year agreement extends to a three-year agreement, or one system is extended to four systems to be deployed across the enterprise.

Remove or Add Options 
Superstars know that profits on the income statement in the example above would be impacted much less if options are added strategically to the deal rather than discounting. Let's say that the rep in the example above decided to provide an optional $134,000 cloud-based software solution option to the client to help close the deal in lieu of taking a $100,000 discount on sell price. You might say that we're in worse shape than the $100,000 discount. Understanding the inventory carrying cost of the software is key to realizing that it is much better to offer the software in lieu of the discount. The software has a inventory carrying cost of only $5,000. That means that the actual hit to the company profits will be only $5,000 vs. the $100,000 if a 10% discount is given.

Provide More Service 
Exactly like the example above, Superstars know that profits typically are impacted much less if more service is provided to close the deal vs. a price reduction. Why? The cost to the company to offer $100,000 of service will only hit the profit line of the income statement by the internal cost of providing the service.  That, of course, is much less than the list price of the service.

Provide More Warranty 
The same reasoning applies here. Why not extend a warranty in lieu of invading the bottom line?

Performance-Based Agreement 
Superstars know that in many situations sharing the risk (gain- share agreement) with the client offers a better deal for both parties than a simple discount. Let's say that in the above example, the customer is putting price pressure on the rep because the customer perceives that the offering is fraught with significant risk.  A mutually agreed-upon set of performance benchmarks will serve both parties better than a price drop. Note, this is not without high risk for both parties, so all reps should understand that "Special Assignment" is waiting for any rep who tries to "Lone Ranger" (no manager buy-in, approval) this type of deal.

Drop Price 
Superstars know that this should be the very last choice, but, a choice nonetheless.  I like to say that when you are laying ocean-side on your Presidents Club award trip for outstanding performance, there will be no one questioning why you gave up a bit of discount to close yet, another monster deal.  Here's the bottom line:  With respect to any large negotiation, I want you to hold tight on price, sell value, but do whatever you need to do to GET THE DEAL, NOW, not tomorrow! Time is of the essence.

Vincent, review this information and graphic with your team.  Discounting needs to be a last resort to use when under price pressure. Make sure each team member knows it well enough to teach it to others. 

Good Luck, and Close 'Em!  

About the Author:
Daniel Adams, author of Building Trust, Growing Sales, and creator of Trust Triangle Selling™ helps corporations improve their profits by optimizing the performance of their sales teams. He is a frequent and popular speaker at national sales meetings, workshops and association events. You can visit his web site and read his other articles at

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