Ready, get set, sell.Oh wait you ain’t ready

Ready, get set, sell.Oh wait you ain’t ready

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

READY, get set, sell! Oh, wait – you ain’t ready! Most salespeople are half prepared. They know everything about their company and their product but they know nothing about their prospect. The secret to sales is be “triple” prepared.

1. Stuff about you (a given).

2. Answers about the prospect’s business as it relates to you.

3. Ideas to help the prospect and ideas to complete the sale. Scenario: Let’s say you sell voice mail systems. (NOTE WELL: I’m using voice mail as an example – SUBSTITUTE what you sell as you read.) Here’s the in-person sales-call dialog:

“Hi Mr. Johnson, I’m Jeffrey,” I said with a smile. “I called your office today 5-minutes before you ‘opened-for-business’ to try to place an order for $100,000. I wanted to see three things. First, to hear how innovative your message was. Second, to see how easy it was to get through or get around the system. And third, to see if you were interested in my business – or your circumstance.” (NOTE THAT THIS IS MY OPENING LINE)

“Know what I found?” I asked as a test. Most bosses have NO IDEA what their own method of conducting business after hours is.

“No idea.” Responded Johnson (surprise!)

“You refused to take ‘yes’ for an answer.” I said with a grin. “You lost the order. Almost.”

“What do you mean, almost?” He said (now I have him interested).

“I decided to call three of your competitors and see if I could give them my money.” I said.

“Who did you call?” He snapped.

“Just a second sir, let me make a list on a piece of paper of who I called. You name your three biggest competitors and see how close I came.” I challenged (now he’s really interested).

Two out of three matched.

“Not bad for a first timer.” I kidded.

He smiled.

“By the way Mr. Johnson, I also called you yesterday DURING business hours and it’s just as bad.” I said with the look of exasperation. “I asked for ‘sales,’ and was immediately transferred to a voice mail. I tried to press “0” and got the message ‘that is not a valid extension.’ Then I got stuck trying to get back to where I was, and ended up with a recording that said, ‘this call is terminated – good-bye.'”

“Here’s the good news, sir.” I leaned forward. “I brought with me today an answer as to how that can never happen again. It’s a simple program you can add to your existing phone system. And the bonus is all customers who call you from now on will like you better, respect you more and be able to place orders when you are closed but they are still open. My solution has three facets. I will be responsible for all three — the delivery, installation, and training of the entire package. All you have to do is say okay.”

“Okay.” He said. Note: I’m sharing this selling scenario with you, a scenario that is far different from the one you were taught to use, but far more effective in getting what you came for: the order. Let’s review: I engaged the prospect immediately, I challenged the prospect, I was prepared with answers, I made the prospect smile, I gave the prospect a buy-able solution, and I made the solution easy to own (not risk free, but close). How many of those attributes are present in your sales presentation? I can give you a two-word answer: Not enough. How prepared are you with questions, ideas and answers when you walk in to the prospect’s office. Two-word answer: Not enough. How much research have you done on the customer before you enter the sales presentation (I think you know the answer by now). AND, how little information can you give about yourself and still affect the sale (that one really hurts). The secret formula is: The less you say about you, the more you have to prepare about the prospect. And the more you prepare about the prospect, the more likely he is to be interested in you. That’s not a secret formula, it’s an obvious formula. So obvious in fact, most people overlook it. Here are the 8.5 preparation elements as relates to THEM:

1. Understand their company.

2. Understand their competition.

3. Understand the person you’re meeting with.

4. Understand how you can attract them to your business.

5. Prepare questions to engage.

6. Prepare questions to attract them to you.

7. Prepare ideas.

8. Prepare closes.

8.5 Make your prepared scenario “easy to own” and at “low risk.” “Come on, Jeffrey. That’s a LOT of work.” You moan with the TV remote glued to your hand. Yes and no. It’s a lot of prep work – but it’s a 10-minute sale.Most salespeople won’t do the hard (preparation) work it takes to make selling easy. For the sales record, here’s what I DIDN’T do on this sales call:

Didn’t say my company name

Didn’t say my last name

Didn’t show any literature

Didn’t make a formal product sales pitch

Didn’t give a proposal

Didn’t say what the product was Here’s what I DID do:

Made the sale. Get ready, baby. Or get ready to lose to someone who is.
Free GitBit… Want the three biggest lost opportunities to differentiate and distinguish yourself from your competition? Go to and register (if you’re a first time user) and enter the secret word, DIFFERENT in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to