You’re Not Being Tested

He walked into my office and sat down.  I asked him, “How you doing since our last session?”  He replied with, “I’m still struggling with confidence.  I wish I saw me how others see me.  I want to earn their (prospects) respect and when they come into the store, I want them to value working with me.  I want to offer them value, so they’ll buy from me.”

I asked him, “What do you think would be of value for them?”  He answered with, “The benefits of the machine.  What it can do.  To show them I know what I’m talking about.”

He obviously had been through the standard, new hire sales training program that emphasis’ features and benefits, with a summary test on product knowledge before releasing them into the wild.  This traditional onboarding program gives him great frustration, because he is not making his numbers and the month is closing in 12 days.

I responded with, “What do you say when they ask you about the machine?”  He said, “I show them how it does that and this, and show them this new feature, and that cool add-on and tell them to get on it and try it out for themselves.”  “Then what happens?”  “They ask a few more questions, I tell them what they want to know and then they want me to write the best price I can do on the back of my business card.”  “Sounds like they are serious,” I said.  “Not really, I never see them again,” as he slumps in his chair.

“What do you know about the prospect when they walk into the store?” I asked.  “They are looking for a treadmill.”  “And”, I said.  There was silence.

We cannot do our job effectively unless we know what the prospect wants to accomplish (gain, latent pain) or avoid (current pain).  What are their expectations?  Where have they been looking?  What have they found?  What’s missing?  Why haven’t they purchased something already?

These are the questions we should be asking.  And we will find the answers.  Most importantly, the prospect will be finding the answers.  Their answers; which will lead them to their reasons to make a purchase decision.

They won’t purchase for our reason.  We can only talk long enough to give them an excuse not to buy.  They keep asking and we keep talking, until we give them the excuse they use against our reasons why they shouldn’t buy from us.

The prospect has already been shopping before they entered the store.  Are they on the right track?  That’s what they are really thinking.  Your questions will confirm and affirm, and within that discussion, you can ask about their expectations and goals.  This will give you the target to hit when demonstrating equipment and other solutions.

I closed our session with a simple statement.  “You are not being tested when someone asks you a question.  You are not a student in this situation.  Your job is to find out the expectations of the customer and what they want to accomplish.”

Offering them the best solution, saving them money, hassle and frustration based on their reasons to buy will be of value to them.  When you are prepared to focus on what they want and need; and not what you have and offer, will give you confidence.  And you will earn their respect when you play the role of a salesperson ( by helping them better define their opportunity, so you can fill it with the best solution.



  1. Thanks for a great post Scott! This part of the article is critical: When we ask the questions and we hear and understand the answers, what is the most important part is the prospect will be finding the answers. Their answers; which will lead them to their reasons to make a purchase decision. When they know why they made the decision, the sale is almost complete.

  2. Pat Yentzer says

    Very well said, Scott! As salespeople we have to uncover their “pain” if we expect to make the sale. The only time someone will part with money is if the benefits they receive outweigh the money they are spending.We all know to sell the benefits of the feature, not the feature, but are you focusing on the right benefits? And how to do you find their pain? By asking questions, open ended questions that allow them to talk. Discover what it is about their current situation that’s just not working and what it is their motivation to change.

  3. The truth is most often unspoken. When someone knows you care, they give you a chance to earn their trust – the gateway to the truth. Listen for the truth and say thank you. Thank them for daring to share, rather than spending their money. This brings you both joy.

    How do people know you care. How do you know when someone cares. Knowing this will bring you joy.

  4. Kathryn Madison says

    Excellent example, Scott, of how we talk to much and don’t listen. This is easy to forget when trying to convey information and being too intent on your own mission and not the clients.

  5. Great article Scott!!! Well said & great advice!

  6. Great counsel, Scott. I so value your way with words— and deeply admire your energy.


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