we conducted a study of 5,000 sales calls in 16 different industries, filming the interaction between
salespeople and clients.
We were very surprised to discover the No. 1
factor separating successful salespeople from unsuccessful ones was not their ability to close a sale.
The most important ability a salesperson or, for
that matter, a speaker needs, is the ability to ask the
3delay gratification: Hold out for a
bigger sale. In my book, Don’t Eat the
Marshmallow, I describe an experiment
in which four-year-old children were
placed in a room with a marshmallow.
They were told to wait 15 minutes without eating
Develop a probing strategy.
Pinpoint and exaggerate a prob-
lem a client might have, which is
called “creating a headache.” When
you offer an aspirin (the solution) to
cure the headache, your client will
be happy to pay your fee. Caution:
Don’t offer the aspirin before you
create the headache.
it, and then they would get two. Two-thirds of the
children couldn’t wait 15 minutes, and gobbled
up the marshmallow in front of them. One-third
of the children, however, were able to delay
gratification and they were rewarded with two
marshmallows 15 minutes later.
In a follow-up study 15 years later, the children
who were able to delay gratification were successful. Those who ate their marshmallow immediately
didn’t do as well.
This same principle can be applied in sales. If
a client, for example, says, “I want product X,”
you can respond in two ways. You can reply, “Yes,
I have that product. Please sign here and it will
be delivered to you.” If this is your response, you
have just eaten the marshmallow.
A better response is: “Yes, I have the product.
What problem do you think this particular product
will solve?” By using this approach, you can make
a larger sale because you are in a position to obtain
more information from the client.
Case in point: In 1998, the Puerto Rico
Telephone Company contacted me to conduct a
time-management seminar for some of its executives. This would result in a low five-figure fee. If I
had just accepted the job, that would have been it.
Instead, I said, “Mr. Jones, that’s a very good
seminar. What problems will it solve at your company?” That question got the client talking and
resulted in a three-year, $1.2 million contract.
Sales Skills = life Skills
Many speakers say they can’t sell or that they hate
selling. You have been selling all of your life, but
you simply don’t realize it. When we’re effective
in sales, we’re effective in life. As we improve our
sales ability, we learn to think more intelligibly and
communicate more effectively.
Crises and all, there will be enormous opportunities for speakers who can maintain a positive attitude while selling, and create products and services
that will help other people sell more, work more,
save money and improve their lives.
Joachim de Posada, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed (English/Spanish)
speaker, author and consultant. He
conducts executive leadership seminars,
marketing workshops and sales training.