SalesDog Weekly Newsletter
    Issue 609 Coffee with The Dog February 5, 2013    
  Get up, Dress up and Show up  
Sign up now for our Weekly Sales Newsletter and get this free e-book: "Attracting
More Customers: How to Create an Irresistible Elevator Speech" by Jill Konrath.
Share |
  Follow us on Twitter   Find Us On Facebook    
Quote of the Week: "The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work." —Mark Twain
Seven Essential Selling Skills
by Shamus Brown

Editor's Note: Shamus Brown is a Professional Sales Coach and former high-tech sales professional who began his career selling for IBM. Today he coaches high tech sales professionals for his own company, Industrial Ego. Shamus has some no nonsense advice on what it takes to be a top performer.

The top performers in any profession constantly work at improving their skills, and salespeople are no different. The big question for salespeople is, with so many different skills to work on, which areas of focus will yield the greatest return on investment for time and effort expended? I have identified the seven sales skills I believe are most important for professional salespeople to develop on an ongoing basis. Get good at these, and you will make a lot of money, no matter how the economy is doing.

  • Skill #1: Qualifying fast. Do you chase after your prospects until they tell you "yes" or "no"? Conversely, do you ever tell your prospects "no", as in "No, I am not going to sell to you"? There are many things in selling that you can't control. The one thing you do have control over is your time, and how you choose to spend it.
To qualify fast, you must have a set of criteria that clearly describes who you will and will not sell to. Focus on the prospects likely to buy your products, and drop the ones unlikely to buy, so you can find more good prospects. This sounds simple, but too many salespeople let sludge build up in their pipeline, constricting the total revenue that flows out. If someone doesn't meet your qualifying criteria, don't invest your sales time with him.
  • Skill #2: Motivating prospects. Qualifying goes beyond budget, authority, and need. It involves finding prospects who want to buy from you. Finding prospects who need your products is usually not difficult. However, finding those who want your products can be very hard, if you wait for them to come to you.
Products sold by professional salespeople are more complex and offer more value than commodity products offered through stores, catalogs, and brokers. Prospects generally do not know they need such products until they discover that they have a problem. This process takes seconds or years, depending on the nature of the problem, and the prospect. Prospects become motivated to work with you when you help them discover that you can solve their problem better than anyone else. Determine which problems you can eliminate or solve for your prospects. Plan and ask questions, to uncover and draw attention to those problems.
  • Skill #3: Selling to people outside your comfort zone. Most salespeople who are "people persons" already think they are good at this. Let me ask you a question. The last time you lost a sale, how was your rapport with the key person who decided against you? You can't afford to look away and ignore people with whom you do not have natural rapport. The good news is people like people like themselves. To gain rapport, all you have to do is to stretch your behavior outside your comfort zone, until you become like the other person. Match speech patterns with people, to gain rapport outside of your typical sports or weather conversation.
  • Skill #4: Reaching decision-makers through voicemail. There are two ways to make more sales. One is to close more of the prospects you contact. The other is to get more prospects into the pipeline. When prospecting, you can see voicemail either as your friend, or your enemy. With 70% of your prospecting calls going to voicemail, it's time to make friends with it. Although you will never come close to getting every voicemail message returned, you can get a significant number of messages returned when you treat them as one-on one commercials.

BizTalk Radio Michael Dalton Johnson
To Run with the Big Dogs
You Need to Know the Rules

Prepare three to five separate benefit-focused voicemail messages that you can leave over a period of days or weeks for a single decision-maker, before giving up on him. Each message should focus on one unique, customer-focused benefit.

  • Skill #5: Delivering "I gotta have that" presentations. Let's face it: a lot of business presentations are really boring. Salespeople talk about why their product is great, why their company is great, and the history of their company. Prospects do not relate to this, which is why they look so bored. Great presentations engage the prospect's imagination; the best way to achieve that is through storytelling. Stories rich in descriptive detail get the prospect to picture himself using your product, and evoke an "I gotta have that" reaction. Study one to three of your best customers, and develop detailed customer success stories that will inject emotional power into your presentations.
  • Skill #6: Gaining commitments instead of closing. Eliminate "Closing Cheese" from your vocabulary. You know what I'm talking about: "Would you like that in gray or in black?", or, "If I can show you how this will help you, will you buy it today?" Lines like these are why salespeople inhabit the bottom of society's respect list - somewhere near lawyers. Instead, learn the power of asking for incremental commitments from the beginning of your sales cycle. First, get your prospect to show you what he most wants (hint: see skill #2 above.) Then you can negotiate incremental commitments in return for more of your time, information, or resources. Practice asking for simple commitments once someone has expressed a clear want, pain, or desire.
  • Skill #7: Having fun. Selling is fun when you're in control, and closing deals. It can be miserable when you're under pressure to close business. Take the pressure to close off yourself, and focus instead on qualifying and motivating your prospects. Shift the responsibility back to the prospect to solve his own problems, and the pressure to make the sale will be gone. Focus on selling only to qualified prospects, and you will close more of them, and have fun doing it.
  • Bonus sales tip. When giving a presentation, selling on the phone, or pitching one-on-one in your prospect's office, picture your prospect with the words SO WHAT? stamped on his forehead. Imagine that to everything you say, the prospect is asking, "So what, why should I care?" Remember: prospects only care about how what you are selling can eliminate a problem they have, or help make their business or life better. The answer to this question is always what your product does for them (benefits), not what your product is (features).
Success doesn't come overnight, but it doesn't have to take a lifetime either. Work on these skills a little bit each day, and before too long you will be closing more sales, and making more money than ever.

Shamus Brown is CEO of Industrial EGO Sales. For biographical and business information.

This article is reprinted from Volume I of the Top Dog Sales Secrets books. These books contain the combined selling and business growth expertise of dozens of nationally renowned sales experts. Learn more here.

Be Unstoppable
Do you know what it takes to be successful in a volatile economy?
"When you turn yourself into an invaluable asset, the tight economy becomes a moot point."
These 7 tips from sales strategist Jill Konrath will help you beat the market to become an unstoppable selling force.
Download :: 7 Tips for Selling in a Volatile Economy
7 Tips for Selling in a Volatile Economy
117 Best Questions to Close More Business by Paul Cherry
Instead of feeling powerless when it comes time to ask questions, consider this: when you ask questions, you're actually controlling the conversation. That's right, questions mean power! Questions make customers think and respond, and asking the right questions will give you...
PDF5 PawprintsClick here to get it.
Trivia: Can you recall the name of the 1961 film which was coincidentally the last film made by both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe? You'll find the answer here.
Interesting but useless fact: Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th."
Manifold is the featured word of the week. Find the definition, pronunciation key, and an example of it used in a sentence here.
Dogfucius Say: They told me I was gullible...and I believed them.
Paul Cherry
117 Best Questions to Close More Business by Paul Cherry
Learn what sales questions to ask (and what NOT to ask) to make
prospective customers see the value of your service, not just the price
Click Here to Download
Don't miss one issue! For your free subscription
to this newsletter, click here.
Over $700 worth of sales training tools FREE! Click Here
Word of the Week: Manifold adjective [ man-uh-fohld ]
  1. of many kinds; numerous and varied: manifold duties.

  2. having numerous different parts, elements, features, forms, etc.: a manifold program for social reform.

  3. using, functioning with, or operating several similar or identical devices at the same time.

  4. (of paper business forms) made up of a number of sheets interleaved with carbon paper.

  5. being such or so designated for many reasons: a manifold enemy.
Example Sentence:
The company's manifold brochure was successful because it highlighted all the elements and different aspects they had to offer the public.
Definition & Example courtesy of

Can you recall the name of the 1961 film which was coincidentally the last film made by both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe?

The Misfits
Don't miss one issue! For your free subscription
to this newsletter, click here.
Reprint Permission: SalesDog Newsletters may be reproduced and redistributed in any print or electronic form provided that "" is indicated as the source. Distribution on Internet should use a live link to our site.
Contact SalesDog
We do not rent, sell or give your information to third parties. When you contact us, we collect only the information on the form you submit.
Do The Dog a Favor. If you found this week's advice helpful, please forward this page and invite your friends and co-workers who sell for a living to join the pack.

The purpose of the SalesDog newsletter is to inform, inspire and challenge you.

Note: SalesDog may be commissioned by some (but not all) partners mentioned in Coffee with The Dog. If you are in sales you know that commissions are a good thing.

Share |
  Follow us on Twitter   Find Us On Facebook    
SalesDog Home Page Selling Tips SalesDog Blog Advertise with Us Our Partners Contact Us
SalesDog 2236 Encinitas Blvd. Suite C, Encinitas, CA 92024
Tel: 760-634-6900 • Fax: 760-632-1359 • Web:
Copyright © 2000-2013 Penny Union Corporation. All rights reserved.