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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A New Sales Model

Traditional sales models have been one way, straight lines, “Qualify, Present, and Close,” funnels, playing fields, etc.

Life has been giving me anecdotal evidence these are not accurate models. If you give enough presentations, you eventually have several where the buyer’s first question is, “How much is this going to cost?”

Here are two answers from the straight line school:

“I would be happy to answer that question, after I learn a little about your situation…” Not good.

“I have to ask my spouse, er manager.” Worse.

How about, “A quarter of a million dollars.” Buyer’s response, “OK. Can I get it in red?”

A few months ago I read that seller-enforced regulations are designed to control the buyer…and that in an internet world, buyers are not interested in being controlled.

Have you ever seen a door in a retail store that said, “Employees Only”? Perhaps you were looking for something that was out of stock on the shelves and that door was to the storage area.

Can you imagine seeing something like that on

A model is a simplified way to define a complex process. What would a new sales model look like?

I started thinking it is a circle as some sales presentations circle as a buyer develops their knowledge.

Then I realized the salesperson has a flat out question-answering model. That’s scary, because that means it is the quality of your answers that keeps the sale developing. But when was that any different?

We just used old models to deemphasize that.

How would you prepare for that model?

I see four areas of preparation, and any order will be selected by the buyer’s interest.

The first area is beginning a conversation. Call it an introduction.

The second is getting the buyer to talk…and listening to what is said. Sometimes that is easy and sometimes it is like breaking rocks. I find making the sale gets easier when the buyer tells me something they didn’t know before our discussion…when as a result of our conversation they have a new understanding of their situation, of what they want.

The third area is knowing when and how to answer the buyer’s questions. We find there are some questions the buyer asks with good intention, which will terminate a transaction if answered incorrectly.

So it is up to the salesperson to recognize the pitfalls and craft the answers to these questions.

The fourth area is the close. However, with all the emotion and misunderstanding traditionally associated with this activity, (Did she buy? No. Ah, you didn’t close) let’s redefine a kinder, gentler close.

How about: “A close occurs when you and the customer agree to do something.”

The purpose of using this sales model is not to manipulate the buyer, but to have a working model of where you are when you are working. It’s a paradigm shift, which I find much closer to reality.



  1. Paradigm Shift

    Circle of Life

    Socratic Method

    Just Do It !

  2. I like the circular model it helps one orient to the place the buyer is in the process not where the salesman wants to be.

  3. As usual, the comments are as good or better than the post!

    Thank you!

  4. Ok. I agree with most of what you are saying but it the age old scenerio in which the client says, "I will take one from column A and two from column B. Column C doesn't interest me." This is were the salesperson needs to do their homework before sitting down with the customer and have some knowledge of their industry with what others in that industry have purchased and why.

    I guess I am going back to the basics of what is their pain and incentive for the purchase. If you have an broad idea of what the pain is and a knowledge of their competitors, bringing that to the table aids in determining their need and your sale.

  5. I strongly agree with the importance you put on "thinking through" an encounter before making a presentation. Thinking logically through the pros and cons makes you better able to make your best argument in the heat of a conversation. Just don't rehearse too much, least you end up looking like "slick willie."

  6. Hi Joe!

    Remember when Rick said I was complimenting him as a sales technique? One, it still worked, and two, slick willie is at least half in the eye of the beholder.

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