The sale rests on how well you engage the prospect

The sale rests on how well you engage the prospect

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

529#529The sale rests on how well you engage the prospect.

I was in Prague addressing the sales team of the Prague Business Journal. They wanted to make more sales. NOW (kind of like you).

They asked if there was a “secret” to making the sale. Without hesitation I said, “the secret of sales is the salespersons ability to engage the prospect.” I paused and added, “No, it’s your ability to engage them intelligently.” That made more sense to me. Off the top of my head I said, “here are the four elements of intelligent engagement: Preparation, questions, ideas and attitude.” I scrambled for a pen, knowing that this was my next column. That’s where ideas come from. Out of the blue. Or out of thought from a wealth of knowledge, or out of challenge. I’m not really sure where they come from, but I do know that when they begin to materialize, I have a pen in my hand or a keyboard under my fingers and I’m writing at the speed of thought.

I was writing as fast as I was speaking. I made a quadrant on a sheet of paper. I entered ‘my preparation’ in the top left. Put ‘my questions’ in the upper right. In the lower left went ‘my ideas’ and in lower right went ‘my attitude.’ I paused in mid thought. ‘not quite right’ as I thought out loud. I scratched out ‘my attitude’ and wrote in ‘my communication skills’ and put ‘MY ATTITUDE’ in big bold letters at the bottom of the page. That’s it! The result of that training is the content of this article. I wrote the first part last week. If you missed it, it’s part of the reason you’re not making enough sales — lack of preparation.

The concept is “engage,” and it’s one of those aspects of selling that is so obvious, that no one focuses on it. And the more you focus on “intelligent engagement” the easier the sale will be. Or should I say, the faster the prospect will want to buy. Engagement sets a buying atmosphere.

This is not a system I’m describing here. I’m against systems. It’s a philosophy. A strategy that says if I am ready, I can engage. If I ask great questions I can engage. If I bring ideas to the table I can engage. If my presentation skills and my communication skills are superior, I can engage. And if my attitude is positive and my enthusiasm is high, I can engage. And if all are present, the prospect is likely to buy. Is that simple or what?

I have covered the first segment “your preparation” last week. Please don’t panic, just go to and enter the word PREPARATION in the GitBit box. Here for your selling prowess are the rest of the elements of “intelligent engagement:”

2. Your questions. Answer this: what is the FIRST question of engagement you ask? Is it intelligent? Or is it the same as your competition? What questions are you asking your prospects that you are certain your competition is NOT asking. Those are the engagement questions. Over the years I have written more than a dozen articles on questions ( article archives). Questions are the heart of the sale, and the soul of intelligent engagement. Your preparation must include ten power questions that make the prospect stop and think, and then answer in terms of you. Here are a few examples. They may not fit your EXACT selling situation, but they are excellent questions in general. They are designed to make you THINK ON YOUR OWN.

If you want to establish rapport ask GREAT questions like, “What made you choose this career?” or, “Tell me about your first week on the job?” Or ask questions about things you may have in common. Many of the most powerful rapport questions begin with the word how. “How did you get that award?” or “How did you accomplish that?”

If you’re starting the sales presentation portion of the meeting you might ask, “What would happen if you lost two of your top ten customers?” Then follow up with, “What’s your plan to keep them loyal?” Ouch. Or you could try, “How much does one hour of productivity cost? How many hours a week do you lose?”

If you’re trying to solidify the transaction ask, “Would you rather have price or profit?” or “How will the decision be made? Then what?” Or you can try, “How did you decide last time? What would you change?

Engage me by making me think about me and my stuff, not you and your stuff..

The single dumbest question in sales? Well rats, I’m out of room AGAIN.

Well, if you made it this far you realize that part two is over now — and the hint here is come back next week for the grand finale. I promise you it will be worth your weight in sales. Stay tuned…

Free GitBit… Want a list of places you can gather information about the sales call? Sure you do. Go to (register if you’re a first time user) and enter the word RESEARCH in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, 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 internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to