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Your Sales Process is Wrong.......Dead Wrong

Most companies are using a sales process that dates back several decades. It was probably wrong then and it most definitely is wrong now. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not the process I object to; it’s some of the things you’ve been taught to do in it.

Let’s look at some of the bad advice you have been given over the years:

Find Their Pain

For years salesmen have been taught that it is discomfort that causes people to want to make a change and, if you probe to find that discomfort and turn it into pain, the customer will buy from you to stop the pain.

And we wonder why many people hate the sales process. Why would they willing submit themselves to a process and a salesperson that is going to try to cause them pain?

Doesn’t it make more sense to find the pleasure? Buying is an emotional process and it just seems to make sense that unleashing positive emotions would be more effective than digging for negative ones.

Find the things people liked about their last car or house or whatever you sell. Get them to share positive memories from owning that product. And then, paint beautiful pictures on how their new purchase will enhance those experiences.


Ask Logical Questions

Qualification has been taught as a logical process. That may be true if you are trying to sell but it won’t work if you are trying to help your customer buy.

Presentations have been all about facts and figures; how many square feet each room in the house has or the horsepower of an engine. Does either of those really matter? Wouldn’t you rather know how your furniture will fit in a room or whether the engine has enough power to get your family out of danger in an emergency?

As my mentor, Jeffrey Gitomer, says “The sale is made emotionally-and justified logically.” You need to be asking emotional questions and making presentations that appeal to the customer’s emotions. When you have made the purchase sufficiently emotionally appealing, they will justify the purchase logically in their own minds.


You Need to Close The Sale

You’ve probably been taught that you need to close and close hard to get every sale. You either own or have seen books or videos filled with hundreds of closes. With the way this concept has developed over the years, it virtually reeks of manipulation. It is the single biggest reason salespeople have the unsavory and unpopular reputation they have.

When your purpose is not to ‘sell’ a prospective customer but, rather, to help them buy, there is no close. It is replaced by an ‘opening’ – the opening of a relationship.

People buy from other people they know, like and trust. Jeffrey Gitomer puts it this way, “All things being equal, people want to buy from a friend. All things not being equal, people still want to buy from a friend.”


Who would you consider a friend? Who would you rather do business with? The salesman who wants to make you feel pain, deals strictly in facts and figures and manipulates you to close the sale or the person who wants to hear about what makes you happy, wants to illustrate how his product can enhance that happiness and wants to build a relationship to help you buy now and in the future.

By the way, guess which one is liable to earn greater customer loyalty and referrals?

It’s time for you to reconsider your sales process today.

Views: 899

Tags: buying, closing, process, sales


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Comment by Al Mosher on November 11, 2013 at 9:03am

I am shocked and amazed. I post my articles here and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Automotive Digital Marketing and on Twitter linked to my website. Between all of them, over 1000 people read this post, "Your Sales Process is Wrong...Dead Wrong". I am very grateful for all of your support. Thank you so much.

Comment by Al Mosher on November 11, 2013 at 3:03am

Thanks, Brian!

You're right, there is no better source on why people buy from us and how we can improve our processes of helping them do that than our base of previous customers. Letting them know that we care about their opinions and that we are trying to get even better will, as you said, help cement them as loyal customers. A great point for us all to consider.

Comment by David Ruggles on November 10, 2013 at 11:11am

Surveys on Gen Y tell us that they don't want a relationship.  They feel it makes them vulnerable to manipulation.  They want a non emotional purchase situation ala Amazon.  This is a serious challenge.  These new buyers are ruthless.  They don't care if we make money or not. They don't even think about that. They assume that whatever we get affords us a reasonable profit, otherwise, why would we agree to the sale?  They are accustomed to a quick price comparison via a "sort" process.  They don't see why buying a car should be any different.  They gather information on the web, probably come to the dealership, but then retreat to the "safety" of their home or office and use the web to negotiate the deal. The more we try to get them to come to the dealership for a conventional close, the more they resist.  Sales process, whatever that is, has to consider these realities. 

On top of this, these Gen Y types rarely have a fast track credit score, often have tons of school debt, and short job time.  They aren't often in the most favorable cash and/or debt to income situation and resolving these issues to gain financing on their behalf can be regarded as unnecessary "friction" they blame on the dealership.

Comment by Thomas Reidy on November 9, 2013 at 5:36am

Al, we may be dealing in semantics. Pain is simply the is the disturbance that the customer must deal with until the issue is resolved (e.g. shopping for a new car because the lease is expiring). There are 3 types of pain: Problem (superficial); Underlying (motivation); Core (beliefs and values). If a customer is shopping because the lease has expired, then that is a problem. The sales person needs to ask questions which uncovers the underlying issues such as: lower monthly payments, trim upgrades, competitive offers, etc. Without asking questions, the salesperson cedes control of the sales process to the prospect, whom has a hidden agenda (lack of trust is a Core pain) and will likely do business elsewhere. Problems are intellectual, underlying issues and core pain are emotional--and that is where the sale is made.

Comment by James Jarrett on November 8, 2013 at 8:24am

Thanks for the article.  I don't agree with the pain threshold idea either.  I do think a lot of bashing of maybe older techniques are somewhat unwarranted.  Sure some of the old crap that was used was bad stuff  (keys on the roof, bait and switch).  But I am still a firm believer that you can develop a relationship and at the same time lead them to the close gently and firmly.  I am not a proponent of the adage of puking information and letting the customer take control of the game.  People need to be nudged nicely and friendly in the direction that leads to the sale.  Long term realtionships can be built.  Let's not be afraid of asking some questions that lead to a close.  Everything I read is that this is a whole new world of auto sales.  Info wise customers are very aware and know what they want.  The best salesman I ever met were friendly, knowledgable and always leading the customers to a sale. 


Comment by Al Mosher on November 8, 2013 at 8:01am

Thomas, from my experience on the lot, I found that the majority of my customers didn't have a really 'painful' reason to be shopping for a new vehicle and the one that did (broken down, lots of repairs, exorbitant fuel costs, etc) let me know all about it right away. My point is that I believe it to be counterproductive to dig for pain as a matter of routine when it is rarely the actual buying motive.

Comment by Steve Richards on November 8, 2013 at 7:22am

In my world, retail automotive, the sales process employed by most dealers has its roots in the '50's, ignores the fact there is an internet, mobile phones, or jet airplanes. The process  is ludicrous, offensive, ineffective, and expensive. But car people don't yet see the need for change. It's unique because of the product and franchise laws. 

Comment by Thomas Reidy on November 8, 2013 at 5:07am

I disagree that pain should be discounted as the primary motivation for buying. Pain gives immediacy to the buying decision. It is thru the skillful questions of the sales rep, that the motivation to change is brought into the open and then the benefits of a particular vehicle can be matched to the pain (e.g. costly repair bills vs. reliability ratings and warranties; costly gas prices vs. energy efficiency; low prestige vs. sexy and high status). Without understanding and discussing the customer's specific pain (buying motivation) salespeople will have a much harder time closing/opening deals.

Comment by Rajesh Sood on November 7, 2013 at 6:50pm

WOW - Such clarity is rare and great.

Sales = Opening of relationship - so apt, however for most of us its our commission today and not tomorrow. Just a little addition to your great thought - 'Selfless relationship wherein one give more than what expects always gets you more' - A sale when perceived or driven with this paradigm is bound to return more tomorrow might be at today's cost, but isn't it time to change precisely this paradigm associated with sales.

Sales to me is building conviction and yes emotional connect with the buyer. After all he/she is buying a high ticket item, which unfortunately has its own set of associated fear and apprehension. Emotional Connect builds 'One-on-One Trust' and Conviction changes the whole process from; 'I was sold this new car' to 'I bought this new car'

Yes its time for new sales paradigm, thanks for articulating it so well. Mosher I will look forward to your new post eagerly

Comment by Jim Radogna on November 7, 2013 at 5:39pm

Great post Al!

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