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The top 10 sales whines: They get better with age

Rochester Business Journal
May 30, 2003
Why do salespeople whine?

And why do they whine about the same things?

"The guy wouldn't return my call." HUGE sales whine. One of the biggest.

Why does this objection occur? Well, I could offer you 20 things salespeople tell me-but the answer is: The voice mail you left sucked. No reason to call back.

You just sent a proposal. Three days later you call the prospect and say: "Hi Bill, this is Mary. I sent you a proposal a few days ago, and I'm calling to see if you had any questions." Make me puke. Does the prospect have any real reason to call you back?

And, you don't care if he has any questions. You just want the money. "Bill, this is Mary. I sent you a proposal, and I was calling to see if the money's ready yet. Can I come over and get it? Is it ready?" At least now you're being truthful. Think it's outrageous? You're right, it is. But it beats what you're doing-calling to see if they have any questions. Pathetic.

I ask salespeople for information about themselves and their abilities before I do a seminar for their organization. A four-page questionnaire. Sixteen questions to give me a feel for their present situation and skill set.

Each year I receive thousands of questionnaires. Been doing it for 10 years. And guess what? They're all the same. Well, not exactly the same. Some have long answers, some short. A few are insightful. Most are not. Most are whines.

They're predictable. Men with 15 years' or more experience tend to give one-word answers, as though they can't be bothered, because they already know everything.

And some women want to take the opportunity to tell their life story.

Why do I keep asking for them? Well, I have to know about the people I'm talking to. And I keep hoping the sales force of America will change. So far, it hasn't.

I ask a question about the "biggest objection" they face. What do you think the biggest one is? Price. Correct. Same as you.

I ask the reason customers leave. They respond, "service."

I ask the reason customers stay. They respond, "service."

What's wrong with that picture?

Biggest internal concern or problem? Communication.

I ask them the thing they want to improve? Eighty percent say: Time management.

What are you whining about? Sales slow? Easy answer: Work longer hours. Network more. Become better positioned.

Here's what I think: I think every salesperson knows their own answers. Even you. They (you) just don't do it.

Here's an easy formula that I guarantee will work, and I guarantee that only 10 percent will use it. Why? Easy answer: Hard work. And in these times, damn hard work.

There is a better answer: strive for the relationship. Help them. Some of your customers are hurting, too. Try for a "value" win, not a "price" win.

This year I have focused even harder on my sales philosophy of: Give value first. I find that the more I help my customers, the more sales I make. I wish I could explain it, but I can't. And don't try to take a course in it. Your Harvard MBA program totally ignores the value proposition. Wish I could tell you why, but I can't.

This year I have focused on my e-zine, "Sales Caffeine." It's published once a week, and it's loaded with value. And it's free. I give away sales lessons, ideas and tips so that salespeople (my customers) can make more sales. And the result is: I'm making more sales. I wish I could explain why, but I can't.

Maybe that's why there are no courses in it. No one can explain the phenomenon of "give to get."

Here's an answer that escapes most people: Instead of concentrating on your problems (your whines), why not focus on helping others an equal amount. Help tends to be reciprocal. Well, at least it is for me.

This year I decided to help my customers. Give them the answers they are striving for. Support them. Encourage them. And the results have been staggering (for everyone).

Here's what I want you to do. Go to right now. Sign up to receive my e-zine. It's real easy-just enter your name and e-mail address, hit the submit button and PRESTO. An issue appears in your mailbox.

But don't just read it. Look at it as an example of what you can do. The e-zine is low-cost and high in effectiveness, especially to a targeted audience.

Free teleseminar on how to do an e-zine: We will be holding a free teleseminar on how to do a company e-zine that creates value for your customers and prospects. If you would like to reserve a space, e-mail

(Jeffrey Gitomer, author of "The Sales Bible" and "Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless" and president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer Inc., gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or his e-mail address,

05/30/03 (C) Rochester Business Journal

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