Top 5 Dirty Tricks Customers Play on Sales Reps- Trick Number 4

Hi readers,

I hope you have been enjoying these blogs dealing with how some customers play mind tricks with us sales reps!

Do take out time to read the last 3 blogs, on the same subject…

Now lets talk about this trick that customers play with us….


False Cold Feet

  • Explanation: During the final negotiations, the prospect pretends to question the wisdom of the deal.
  • Example: “I realized we’ve been working on this for a long time, but we’re not really sure that this is the right thing for us to do at this time.”
  • Their Hidden Agenda: They’re trying to scare you into thinking you’ll lose the deal so that you’ll offer some concessions.
  • Your Strategy: Determine whether there’s a real problem.  If so, roll back the sales cycle; if not, push through.
  • What YOU Say: “Exactly what is making you question the deal?”
  • What Will Happen: If (as is likely) the objection isn’t real, the negotiation will proceed as before.
  • Warning: If the objection IS real, you’ll need to step back from the negotiation process and return to an earlier stage in your sales cycle.

From my little experience, this trick is not real in majority of cases, and the way that I handled this trick was simple.

Dont react to this obvious shock to begin with-  maintain and calm demeanor and immediately inform your boss of what happened.

Walk away from the final negotiation table, clearly mentioning to the customer that when ever they are ready, the negotiated terms would have to be re-visited; do inform the client that while the terms can be fast tracked since a lot has already been invested in the engagement over so many months, but a sweet deal cannot be guaranteed under the present circumstances ( postponement of the decision).

On the way out, tell them that a window of 24 hours is open for a rethink on this decision by the client and that the file would be kept “hot” until that deadline. Be polite, BUT be firm and in many cases, the client does get the message that you meant every word you said, and he will in all probability call you up in the next 24 hours.

Try it and let me know if this worked for you.


Top 5 Dirty Tricks Customers Play on Sales Reps- TRICK NUMBER 1

Hi readers,

This series of blogs is to do with the reality that many of us in Sales function face every day.

While we may have had the best of training, with the best of trainers and mentors and bosses, we may have been born with the sales smarts, we may even have picked up some selling acumen through sheer experience, we have to live the with reality that CUSTOMER is indeed KING ….has been, is, and always will be.

NOW…your customers/clients KNOW this reality and despite all your selling prowess, still play dirty with you, trick you and lead you up the garden path. Sadly , very often, you do fall victim to your customer’s tricks and these series are an attempt to highlight some common tricks that customer’s play with you.

DIRTY TRICK #1: The Free Consulting Request

  • Explanation: A demand that you provide substantial up-front work without any commitment from them.
  • Example: “We’ll consider you for the job if you write us a detailed, 50 page requirements document.”
  • Their Hidden Agenda: They want the benefit of your experience and knowledge for free.
  • Your Strategy: Before agreeing to do any up-front work, demand a significant concession that will help you close the business.
  • What YOU Say: “We’ll be happy to work with you on that document, providing you give us regular access to your top management team.”
  • What Will Happen: You’ll get the inside track on developing the opportunity.
  • Warning: If you don’t demand something significant, the customer will know you’re a patsy.

Personally I have faced this dilemma ever so often and have just learnt to discern the serious customer from the one who is playing you.

There is no short cut to “learning” this…it comes from a series of cases, of failures, rewinding the entire “case” in your mind, discussing with your mentor/boss, analyzing what exactly went wrong in the engagement, and imbibing that into your client engagement SOP and looking for warning signs the next time around, so that you are not walked across the garden path again!


Sales 101- Top Ten Sales Skills…..

Hi readers,

ready reference for sales pros….quick list of top 10 sales skills for you and your teams

  • Skill #1. Researching prospects and organizations prior to first contact.

Cultivate a genuine love for researching, using both primary as well as secondary sources for researching on your client, your prospect and the organization. Research empowers you to not only be prepared for the questions that you will be asked, but will also ensure client delight, when he confers with you and gets to know that you have taken the pains to know more about the industry and the organization. You are therefore better equipped to close the all important sale!

  • Skill #2. Asking questions and listen more than you talk.

Always a classic- if you dont have listening skills, then invest in this skill!! Enough stress cannot be put on this skill to highlight its critical importance in a sales rep. MUST HAVE SKILL….

  • Skill #3. Focusing on a few top prospects and contacting them frequently.

FOCUS has always been key to success. There are many fish ( prospects) in the sea….knowing your value prop and the offer, and matching that to the best target clientele in the business eco-system takes judgement maturity. Focus on a few prospects that are the best match for your offer and then go all out. Spend a clearly allocated time with each prospect and qualify them according to the response that you generate with first contact and then build on the engagement as it unfolds!! SIMPLE!

  • Skill #4. Cultivating insider “coaches” to understand customer requirements.

YEP….you need to have superior schmoozing skills to cultivate relationships ACROSS the client’s organization. Some times grapevine is very critical to the success of your sales pitch…you never know which gem of information turns out to be of strategic importance and your decision is affected by it…wouldn’t it be better if you had prior information through your “cultivated” internal sources???

  • Skill #5. Solving problems and overcoming objections as a consultant.

Be it product driven enterprises or services focused businesses, today and in the future, the long term value of your offer will only be unlocked IF you are successfully able to SELL A SOLUTION as opposed to a stand alone product or a service!! Face this reality folks…please invest in your solutions marketing and selling skills, solve your customers problems and you will have a client hooked on to engaging with you for as long as he is on the decision makers seat!!! Beats recession any day!!!

  • Skill #6. Creating long-term relationships with prospects and customers.

Relationships management that endure time is an art and a science- this is from my experience. Honesty in your business engagements with your client, bringing more than the product or service to the business offer to the table, transparency in your B2B engagements are all critical attributes that will help you to establish and then maintain long term business relationships., which will hold you in good stead , especially when the going gets tough.

  • Skill #7. Communicating appropriate messages (e.g. value propositions).

Communication skills, having the ability to articulate the same message ( value prop) for different audiences, without diluting the core essence of the value prop, is an art that comes from creativity and hard skills combined. If you are not inherently creative, I encourage you to take classes in creative writing, or go back to school and learn communication, work for some time in advertising, or just paint, cook….on form of creativity translates into other forms of creativity- and here we are talking of communication skills!!

  • Skill #8. Recognizing when the prospect is ready to buy.

JUDGEMENT MATURITY….this cannot be taught, but

  • Skill #9. Knowing how to close the sale when the time is right.\

Refer to skill # 8….

  • Skill #10. Getting referrals and then following up on them.

REFERRALS are crucial to your success today, especially in the B2B space. In Solutions sales, strong  references may mean the difference between success and failure in closing, large ticket deals, AND getting referrals is also an ART!!

So what are you guys waiting for..go get ’em Tiger!!

Turn Corporate Weaknesses into YOUR Selling Strengths!!

Hi readers,

These times are tough, and especially for those of us in Sales, more so.

Many of my friends have fallen victim to the reality of a tough market and when opportunity presented itself have joined start ups, newbie firms that perhaps do not have the brand strength of their former employers.

Well thats the reality you have to live with folks!

So what do you do? Do you wallow in self pity and let the situation get the better of you when you go out there to get your volume and revenue targets?

My take…use a weak corporate brand to your advantage and generate success!! here is how…

  • Weakness: Nobody has ever heard of my firm.
  • Strength: They can’t have negative pre-conceptions.


  • Weakness: We’ve only been in business a short time.
  • Strength: We’ve got something new and different to offer.


  • Weakness: We’re bloated with bureaucracy.
  • Strength: We have many people willing to help.


  • Weakness: We’re tiny, with only a handful of people.
  • Strength: We don’t have a bureaucracy to weigh us down.


  • Weakness: Our product is untested in the market.
  • Strength: In today’s world, innovation is priceless.


  • Weakness: Our product cost more than the competition’s.
  • Strength: We’re the best so we cost the most.

Your Best Response to Three Common Objections faced today!!

Hi Guys,

I can totally relate to the reality of the markets today…

Since 2008, its been an uphill task for us all in sales and more so for our wonderful marketers, and its sad to see so many good folks lose their dignity, their livelihoods and their reputations in the face of some real tough objections ( brickwalls) coming from their clients, some of whom probably swore to be by your side through thick n thin….but have gone away just and market sentiments tanked!!

So lets look at some very difficult objections that sales reps have been facing recently and what could probably be the best answer to address these client objections

  • Common Objection 1: “I can get it cheaper elsewhere.”Response: “In today’s world we can almost always get something cheaper.  I’ve found that when smart people invest their money they look for three things: the finest quality, the best service and lowest price. However, I’ve also noticed that no company can consistently offer all three-the finest quality and the best service at the lowest price.  Which two of the three is most important to you in the long term?”
  • Common Objection 2: “I have a friend in the business.”Response:“There’s an old saying – I don’t know how true it is – that sometimes friendship and business don’t mix.  If you bought from a friend you might not say anything if you weren’t happy with the purchase, but with me you can just get on my case until you get what you want.”
  • Common Objection 3: “I did business with your company in the past and they were unprofessional.”Response: “I can really appreciate that.  I really hate it when that kind of thing happens to me.  You know, though, suppose the shoe were on the other foot and it was your company that had acted unprofessionally.  You’d probably fire the person responsible. That’s probably what we had to do, and now it’s my job to make certain that you’re treated right.”

If you know of other common objections please do let me know and give me the opportunity to share some insights with you all.

How Do You Know if Your Customers Value You?

Hi readers,

This question hounded me for weeks when I was leading the solution sales team in India.

One of my rising stars had been on to his clients for well over 12 weeks, without a whiff of any indication about their intention-I guess that got to him and he posed this question to me during out team meeting.

I asked for time and came back to him with my assessment. Let me share that with you.

Research conducted by Harvard and other independent institutions have established that clients clearly differentiate between valuable vendors while treating others like plug n play commodities.

B2B relationships basically fall into 5 levels. In this assessment I am taking the explanation from the lowest ( level 1) to the highest ( level 5) and tried to explain the “what” and “why” of the engagement, with appropriate examples

  1. Approved Vendor: “We are seen by the majority of our customers as a legitimate provider of the products or services we offer, but are not recognized for having any significant competitive edge over other alternative offerings. We therefore often compete on price, via discounting, as a key consideration to helping close a deal.” Example: Gateway is most often viewed as one of a number of vendors from which a company can buy reliable PCs, but rarely seen as unique.


  1. Preferred Supplier: “Based on our marketplace reputation/past dealings with our customers, we are normally seen as the preferred vendor for them to do business with. While competitors may offer alternative offerings, all things being considered equal we win the deal in the lion’s share of the deals over the competition.” Example: has such a good reputation that when firms are looking for on-demand applications, the competition must create a significant advantage in the eyes of the customer to get the deal.


  1. Solutions Consultant:Based on a specific set of product-related, value-add knowledge or services we bring to the table, our customers view us as not only a vendor, but a consulting resource on how to best use our products or services, as well. Because of this, during brief periods when our offerings may not be as robust or are more expensive than those of the competition, our customers will continue to buy from us because they consider the premium we bring to the table when making their final choice.” Example: MidMark sells a wide variety of products medical facilities use in their practice, AND offers specific advice on new ways that doctors can leverage those products to maximize revenues.


  1. Strategic Contributor: “Above and beyond the products and services we offer, our customers view us as a source of strategic planning assistance for dealing with broader-based business challenges they are currently dealing with. Based on this, we are regularly brought into business discussions that are above and beyond our products, to help the clients develop or implement key business strategies. This strategic focus often allows us to sole-bid deals, even though competitors may offer similar products.” Example: Hewlett Packard’s “Creatology” group which constantly identifies what other assets, besides the products that HP possesses, that the clients could leverage in their businesses – i.e. processes, relationships, intellectual property, etc.


  1. Trusted Partner: “At this highest level we are seen as a long-term partner whose contributions; products, insights, processes, etc., are seen as critical to the long-term success of their clients. Based on this, the occurrences of our clients seriously considering a competitive offering are next to nil.” Example: GE aircraft and Boeing, who co-bet their businesses on the mutual success of their long-term, multi-year relationship.


9 Questions to Ask Before Presenting

Hi readers,

My sales team members, especially the future stars often asked me- how can we make our engagement with our clients effective so that the sale is closed quickly and the client is satisfied that our offer (product or service) is the best from among the competition?

The difference between an ordinary sales rep and a star is that, the regular sales rep thinks that a sales call consists of a rambling speech, a monologue in which he talks about the company he represents, talks about the product or service that his company offers in elaborate detail and then goes down to some “rapport” building exercises!

Please note – I used the word MONOLOGUE, and thats a dead give away! The description of a sales rep- client engagement mentioned above is what happens in almost 90% if cases, where the sales rep believes that he just pocketed the sales by leveraging his communications skills, his articulation skills and his smarts!!! (he conveniently forgets in this assessment that during this engagement, he spoke for 80% of the time, while giving the client only 20% of time to make his point!!)

This is bound to lead to failure! Wrong assessment on all counts!!

This “show up and throw up” approach is particularly common inside companies that are proud of their products and services ( to a fault) and believe that the quality and capabilities of those products and services are what drives their customers to buy. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Unfortunately , marketing and sales heads in these companies let past successes of their products and services get to their head and complacency often sets in- the consumer / client is relegated to the position of “needy buyer” who has no choice and no alternatives!! wrong again!!! THATS SALES HARA KIRI!!

Customers don’t give rat’s rear end for your business, your company or your products. Customer are interested in their own career, their own company, and the ability of their own company to sell to their own customers.  In that order.   Your “stuff” isn’t even on their list.

(Marketers WAKE UP and smell the coffee!!)

With this in mind, here are nine questions to ask yourself before you make any sales presentation:

  1. How does this individual perceive the problem I intend to solve?
  2. What is the pithy summary of my idea that will appeal to this person?
  3. What roles does this person play in the decision-making process?
  4. What is my goal for this encounter?
  5. What is the basis for my credibility with this person?
  6. Will my idea conflict with any of this person’s beliefs?
  7. How might my idea conflict with this person’s interests?
  8. Can I leave the relationship better than I found it?
  9. What kind of public commitment from this person would best build momentum?


8 Rules for Asking Effective Questions

Sales effectiveness is contingent upon optimizing and maximizing time spent per client , leading eventually to conversion and sales closure.

Asking the right questions, the most effective questions to your clients is a critical aspect of the sales process that can help the sales rep to become effective and drastically improve his client conversion rates.

Keep in mind that clients DO NOT want confusing questions or questions that irritate them- be mindful of the unique psychological profiles of your clients when you address your questions.

  • Rule #1: Never meet without a plan. Before meeting with a customer, have some idea of what you want to accomplish during the call. Prior to the call, review your relationship with the customer and identify gaps in your understanding of the customer’s business.  Even if you’ve been working with a customer for a long time, you don’t know everything that has happened since your last sales call.
  • Rule #2: Never rehearse your questions. You heard me right.  Nothing is more annoying that a sales person reading questions from a list. It not only makes you look amateurish but makes it difficult for a conversation to evolve naturally.  Rather than rehearsing questions, prior to the meeting write down some keywords which will remind you of what you need to discuss.
  • Rule #3: Never ask stupid questions. Some people say “there are no stupid questions.”  Those people are stupid, however, because it’s idiotic to ask a customer a question that you can find out with a little research on the web.  If there’s some other way to find a piece of customer information, use it.  Don’t waste face time with a customer going over public knowledge.
  • Rule #4: Never give the third degree. Customers don’t want to be on the receiving end of an inquisition.  Rather than trying to find out everything in one meeting, pick two lines of inquiry for each sales call and set a goal to get good answers for at least one of those lines of inquiry.  For example, on the first call, focus on understanding the management chain, but leave the buying process for the next meeting.
  • Rule #5: Never talk more than you listen. Goal-focused sales reps like questions and answer sessions to move quickly, so that the conversation can move to the deal-making. But what’s the point of asking effective questions if you’re not going to listen to the answers?  Listen to the customer, then pause to think about what the customer said, then decide where you want to conversation to go.
  • Rule #6: Never ask leading questions. Sales reps are taught to ask questions that lead the customer towards whatever the reps are selling. (Example: “How can our company help your business?”)  Such ploys, however, are transparent and laughable.  Instead couch your question in neutral terms that allow the customer “room” to give you the information that you need. Example: “In a perfect world, what your vendor be doing for you.”
  • Rule #7. Always invite customers to speak their mind. As early as possible in the conversation, invite the customer to speak about whatever is on the customer’s mind. Example: “Yes, I’m here to talk about our super-widget. But what’s going on with you? How did that big project turn out?” Chances are that you’ll find out more from that conversation than any number of pointed queries of your own.
  • Rule #8: Always ask open-ended questions. Every question you ask the customer should begin with “How…”, What…” or “Why…” Don’t worry about asking a question that “too open-ended.” If your question isn’t specific enough, the customer will ask you to clarify. And then you’re already in a conversation, which is essential if effective questioning is to take place.