Ask Jeffrey about sales and you get answers.

Ask Jeffrey about sales and you get answers.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at



Ask Jeffrey about sales and you get answers.

Answers. Salespeople want answers. Here are a few of the answers to questions I get in the mail (fax, e, and snail). The purpose of this column is twofold. First to give you a sampling of what people ask, and second to assure you that you are not alone in experiencing the weirdness that everyday selling seems to breed.

And by the way, in case you forgot the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.

Jeffrey, My question is…What is the best way to ask clients for referrals? Or multiple ways if possible. Becky

Dear Becky,

1. Don’t ask earn.

2. Bring a potential client for HIM to a three way lunch get by giving.

3. Hold a seminar of value to the client serve great food offer one “guest” invite.

“Asking” for referrals is the worst, least effective and most offensive manner earning them is harder but by far the best. Regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, my question is… I seem to be always running to catch up. My customers with whom I do business on a regular basis give me high marks for knowledge and skill, but it seems like I get side tracked with servicing problems for them and don’t get to my next or new customer. This is a problem I have had all through my career. I am very strong on the technical side of the sales equation and compared to my peers weak on The initial sales side. Any ideas? DON

Dear Don: Because of your technical leanings you are probably avoiding the initial sales side it’s less preferable to you than servicing what is ‘safe.’ I recommend you try two things…

1. Get the customers you are comfortable with to recommend you to others the third party referral is less threatening and an easier path to the sale (less rejection as well)

2. Set aside two hours a day and lunch to work on new business even if your ass falls off. Perhaps the first and last hours of the day and the lunch to take a prospect or an existing customer and prospect to an informal meeting. Hope that helps, Jeffrey

Dear Mr. Gitomer, I wanted to write you to tell you how much I enjoy your column Sales Moves. I find it pertinent, informative, and on target. I need some suggestions. I am a 45 year old pharmaceutical representative who has had, and continues to have, great success in our market, however, I find myself not challenged anymore due to the nature of the business. This industry used to be the “right arm of physicians” for their information on drugs, however due to many changes; most reps just try to get signatures for samples, are ill prepared, due more catering than selling, etc., physicians tend to give very little time, and in fact, will instruct their receptionist that they will only see reps if they bring in a meal.

I feel its time for a new challenge. Do you see any future trends in this industry that I should seek information on? Do you have any suggestions for people who enjoy selling in the health field, however pharmaceuticals has lost its glamor? Thanks for your reply, Jane

Dear Jane, Having just done seminars for two major pharmaceutical companies I am prepared to answer you. You think you are having a problem, but that’s just because you are in “rutthinking” mode. Get back in the groove. You CAN be the right arm just in a different way. The “meal” approach to a meeting is OK, but everyone uses it. Why not study how to make doctors more money, run more effective offices, greet patients, make patients return, keep good people, reschedule appointments, or have a better waiting room in other words be a resource that helps the doctor build his business, so that you can earn yours and earn a visit. Best regards, Jeffrey

And finally, reader Tom Gostkowski of Pittsburgh has a GREAT idea:

I sell commercial printing. I had a quote in with a major food

product manufacturer for a very specialized, difficult to produce,

project that was worth about $12,000.00. I had done a good job in

oneonone meetings with the client but had not yet closed the job. The

marketing director’s assistant liked me and confided that I needed to

“sharpen my pencil.” She literally said this. Unfortunately, due to this

project’s complexity, there was little room for pencil sharpening. My

sales manager said, “a company this size, must be looking for a few

thousand dollars.” I could only take about $100 out and still make a

decent profit. They next day I met with the marketing director and his

assistant. I explained to them why I was the best person to handle such

a difficult project. From my briefcase I extracted a revised quote with

$100 taken out and presented it to them. I then produced a pencil that I

had sharpened down to it’s last nubby inch, dropped it on the table and

said, “This is the sharpest I could get the pencil to go.” I was awarded

the job despite having a higher bid then two other companies and the

customer still mentions “that pencil” from timetotime.

Way to go, Tom. A sharp pencil and a sharp mind equals a sharp wallet.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlottebased Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/3331112 or email to

1999 All rights reserved Don’t even think about reproducing this document or it’s contents without the written approval of Jeffrey H. Gitomer or Buy Gitomer 704/3331112