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


NOTE: This column marks the beginning of my fourteenth year of writing every Friday. Wow! I’ve hammered out 676 columns.

Is there a secret of sales? YES! But you already know it!

What is the secret of selling?

Two years ago I created a sales model called “Intelligent Engagement.” I referred to “engagement” as the secret of selling. If you can’t engage the prospect, he or she will never come to buy (from you).

The model consisted of 4.5 components:

1. Preparation: how you get ready to engage.

2. Questions: what you ask to engage.

3. Ideas: the ideas you bring to engage and gain interest.

4. Presentation Skills and Communication Skills: the language you use to engage.

4.5 Attitude and Enthusiasm: the transferable passion within you to engage.

Pretty interesting model. And it worked. So, I began to slowly expand and refine it. After two years of personally using the “Intelligent Engagement” model, I have come to a better understanding of how powerful this model is.

For example, I found that “intelligent engagement” was only part of the engagement process. There were other important aspects of “engagement” in the sales process. The sale is made emotionally-and justified logically. So “emotional engagement” is also a vital part of the process. And what about “friendly?” Heck yeah, friendly is vital. So, “friendly engagement” became part of the model.

So, here is the new strategy of how engagement, one of the secrets of selling, works. Please note that the first three-friendly engagement, emotional engagement, and intelligent engagement-have no order of importance. They are equally important and are used throughout the selling process.

And also note that these elements are not about the traditional “appoint-probe- present-overcome objections-close” method of selling. Those 50-year-old practices are dead. The problem is that 95 percent of salespeople haven’t heard the news.

Also note that this strategy completely eliminates “educating” the customer about who you are. They don’t care who you are, UNLESS they perceive that you can help them. That’s where engagement comes in. If you talk about yourself, they are NOT engaged. If you talk about them, ask about them, provide ideas for them and about them, and communicate in terms of them-they will become so engaged that they will buy.

As you read these elements, try to think of how, and how well, you engage your prospective buyers. Here’s big clue number one: If a prospect says, “I’m not interested,” it really means that you are not interesting. They are NOT engaged.

Here’s how the engagement process is defined and how it can work for you:

Friendly engagement. Because people want to do business with people they like, the first sale that’s made is the salesperson. There’s an old sales adage that goes, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.” Friendly breeds the customer’s belief, confidence, and trust in you. It’s the gateway to the sale AND the relationship. Implementation idea: I never start talking business until I’m certain I have established a friendly atmosphere.

Emotional engagement. Buying is done emotionally-and justified logically. Your passion, your belief in what you sell, and your desire to help will drive the buying decision. Your emotion transfers to the buyer. Combine this with your ability to draw out the emotion of the buyer, and it will lead you to their real buying motive-the real reason they want what you have. Implementation idea: Think about why you buy. That will give you the best clue about the emotional decision-making process of others.

Intelligent engagement. Intelligence earns respect. The intelligence of your questions-and the answers to their questions-can differentiate you from your competition faster than any aspect of the sale. Also, you need to use your intelligence to support the logical justification of their emotional decision to buy. Implementation idea: Ask questions that you are CERTAIN your competition will never ask.

Sustained engagement. This is the ability of the salesperson to engage at the beginning, engage throughout the presentation, engage through follow-up, engage from point of sale through time of delivery, engage after the sale, engage to earn a referral, engage to build a relationship, and engage to earn a second order. This element is the true test of sales AND customer loyalty. Implementation idea: Look at the last ten sales you made. And look at the possibility of reorders. That will tell you how you are sustaining engagement.

The “Intelligent Engagement” model is becoming more of a center piece of my presentations and our custom training modules. Salespeople like it because they can instantly relate to it. They also use it and make sales with it.

And there is more. “Engagement” is only part of the secret. There is one other word that completes it. Once you know both words, the sales world is your oyster. And that word will appear next week.

Want the questions that will begin the engagement process? Go to — register if you’re a first time visitor — and enter SMART QUESTIONS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to

c 2005 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written

permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112


Can you engage me? That’s up to me to perceive.

Last week I detailed a sales model I named (actually trademarked) “Intelligent Engagement.” The model deals with friendly, emotional, intelligent, and sustained engagement as a path to sales success by creating an atmosphere “to buy.”

It rests on my sales philosophy that “people don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” And it incorporates the engagement elements that will differentiate you from the others. It deals with every element that converts your selling to their buying-with the exception of manipulation.

Intelligent engagement dumps traditional selling skills and focuses on the most powerful element of selling: why people buy. Also called “buying motives,” these emotions trigger a response from the purchaser. With the right preparation and execution, you can trigger a “yes.”

Note well: The buyer will buy. The only question is, from whom?

And note well again: The buyer will buy for three primary reasons beyond “need.”

And that’s the second part of the secret.

The first part of the secret is engagement. The second centers around with the word “perceive.” Perceived difference-and perceived value.

Here are the three primary elements that create a “buy”:

1. How you engage me.

2. How I perceive the difference between you and others.

3. How my perceived value of doing business with you relates to me.

I will buy if.

You engage me.

I perceive a difference between you and the others that sell what you sell.

I perceive a value that benefits me beyond your price.

If I perceive no difference in you-if I perceive no value as the purchaser-if you have not engaged me in a memorable way-then ALL THAT’S LEFT IS THE PRICE. And even if you win on price, you lose on profit.

How powerful is your engagement? How successful are you at creating a perceived difference between you and your competition? What are you offering that benefits the buyer? How does the BUYER perceive value? How are you creating those elements? And how are you implementing them during the sales interaction?

Well, I have the formula. But I deliver it with some words of caution. Read it several times until it sinks in. The key to this formula is the “why.” Why each element is there, why it’s important, and why it works. Ask yourself if you understand each element and how it “fits” into your sales process. Then ask yourself, “How do I use it?”

If you don’t understand the “why,” you’ll never get to “how.”

This sales model is the short version of the formula. It ensures that your prospective purchaser perceives a difference in you and will get real value from you.

P — Personalized Preparation. How you get ready for the prospect.
E — Engaging Questions. A list of questions that makes the prospect think, and respond, in terms of you.
R — Rapport, Respect, Real World, Relaxed. These four key elements are what you must gain (rapport and respect) and be (real world, relaxed).
C — Creative Ideas. For the customer. They include profit, productivity, and other values that are important to the customer. We’re talking ideas-not brochures.
E — Excellent Communication and Presentation Skills. The ability to get your message across in a clear, concise way. The key word here is “excellent.”
I — Incentive to Buy Now-and to Buy from You. You create a sense of urgency through the desire to gain or (more powerfully) through the fear of loss. Create this urgency and you eliminate competition.
V — Value Perception; Risk Reduction. The greater the value you present (how they win, how they produce, or how they profit), the lower the risk-and the faster they will buy. The biggest barrier in sales is not price. It’s the buyer’s unspoken risk. It’s fearing the consequences of saying yes or doing business with you.
E — Enthusiasm, Effort, Attitude, Belief, and Passion. You need these internal elements to rise above the others. If you don’t possess these characteristics, don’t bother with the other elements. This is your glue. Your enthusiasm, effort, attitude, belief, and passion make or break you.
D — Dedication to Lifelong Learning. Be a student. Study and practice every day. Become the master-even when you think you know it all.

As you can see, these elements spell the word “perceived.” I hate acronyms too-but this one really fits, and it drives home “perception,” the secret of unlocking the sale.

The customer’s perception is your reality. Not the other way around. The sale, rather the “buy,” hinges on the customer’s perception of you, your product, your company, your reputation, your value, and your quality. It’s about your “fit” to the customer’s needs-and the difference between you and the others who do what you do.

If it sounds like work, it is. This process isn’t for everyone. Just salespeople that want to make solid business friendships, eliminate price as a barrier, double their sales, get referrals, get testimonials, and establish long-term relationships with all of their customers.

Is that you?

If you want both parts of this model (last week and this) go to and enter the word INTELLIGENT in the GitBit box.

On a personal note, it’s another birthday for the column. Thank you for 13 years of reading. I’m looking forward to the next 13.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling, is the President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached by phone: 704/333-1112 or e-mail:

c 2005 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written

permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112