Archive Monthly Archives: November 2010

How big sales are made

Here is a great article by Hilton Johnson:

What is a major sale?

That depends on whom you talk to. If you’re used to selling $19.95 retail
items and your boss puts you into $500 items, you’ve just moved into major

Major sales usually involve speaking with more than one person before a
final decision is made. Major sales usually take several sales calls before
the sale is concluded. Major sales usually involve the more sophisticated
type of clients, especially professional buyers. The larger the sale, the
more cautious buyers become about making buying decisions.

Whether you’re selling a five hundred-dollar software product or a ten
Million-dollar jet airplane, you already know if you’re in major sales. If
you don’t know, you’ll know when you get there.

If you are now or plan to be in major selling, here is my version of the
Top Ten Strategies For Making The Major Sale:

1. Advance The Sales Process

Very few major sales are made on just one call. There are usually several
intermediate steps that move the sale to its final conclusion. Your goal
should be to decide in advance what action you want the prospect to take
which will confirm that the sales process is moving in a positive

2. Traditional Sales Techniques Don’t Work

It would be a big mistake for you to go on a major sales call and try
“alternate of choice questions, sharp angles or multiple closing attempts”
in your presentation. If you do, the odds are very good that you’ll be
eaten alive. Or if you’re lucky, you’ll just get thrown out of the office.

Traditional sales techniques make sophisticated clients and customers feel
that you think they’re stupid and that you think that you can manipulate
them into buying.

When it comes to making the larger sale, you’re better off just forgetting
everything you ever learned about “sales techniques.”

3. Conduct An Interview

Major sales are made around solving the buyer’s problems. To do that, you
need an arsenal of pre-determined questions that will bring the buyer’s
problems to the surface where they can be examined. If your product or
service cannot solve problems for the buyer, there is no valid reason for
him or her to do business with you. And to solve problems, you must first
know what they are.

I recommend that you begin your interview by asking permission to ask some
questions that will determine if the two of you can do some business.

4. Dig Deeper For More Pain

Offering to solve the buyer’s problems too soon will work against you
rather than for you. You must probe deeper to uncover the seriousness and
consequences to the buyer if the problems he/she just revealed to you are
not solved.

You must carefully explore the overlooked ADDITIONAL problems that occur as
a result of not curing the cause of the problem. In sales, as in medicine,
you need to find the CAUSE of the disease before you can offer a complete

You do this by asking questions like: “Tell me Mr. ______, what effect will
it have on your overall operation if that problem is not solved? How much
will it cost? What will it do in terms of morale? How much production are
you currently losing with the way you’re handling this now?”

Before you can make the major sale, you must know how to develop major
explicit problems from minor implied problems. And you must do all of this
before you explain the value of your product or service. (Are you with me?)

5. Let The Prospect Do The Selling…Not You

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is that they start offering
solutions too soon. Doing so will invite objections, especially price

You get the prospect to sell herself by asking her “Solution Questions.”

Solution Questions allow her to explain the benefits of your product or
service and how it will solve her problems. Example: “What will it do for
your company if we can reduce the cost of that operation by 10%?”

6. Offer Benefits…Not Features

Presenting features will cause objections in your presentation. Only offer
benefits, and only offer benefits when the prospect has expressed an
explicit need that absolutely has to be met. Remember, let the prospect do
the selling.

7. Stage Your Presentation For Others To Sell Others

Most major sales involve several people. It’s what goes on between your
sales calls that is the most important…when you’re not there.

By asking problem questions, probing deeper and asking solution questions,
you allow the “influencers” you’re selling to discover their own problems.
They then become the “experts” and present your product or service as the
solution to problems “they” discovered. (Don’t you just love this?)

8. Don’t Ever Close

Traditional sales closes will hurt you in the major sale. But what are you
to do? Simple. You tell or suggest to the buyer what you want him to do.
This is done in three steps:

a. You make sure you’ve covered all of the important concerns of the buyer.
You ask her if there is anything else that’s important to talk about.

b. You summarize the problems explored and the benefits (solutions) of your
product or service.

c. You suggest an appropriate step to take: setting up a meeting with key
players, getting your prospect agreeing to give you previously inaccessible
information or simply ask for the order. (No multiple closes here.)

9. The Right Way To Demonstrate

Before you present your product or service, it’s critical that you build a
strong need to have problems solved. You build tremendous value in what you
sell if you can get the prospect telling you the frustrations he or she has
and the determination to get those situations taken care of. When that
happens, you then simply demonstrate how your product or service will solve
the problems and the close is almost automatic.

10. Practice On The Small-Fry

It’s amazing how many salespeople will go on an important sales call to
“practice” a new sales behavior. This is a terrible mistake.

Before taking on a major sales prospect, be sure you write out all of the
problems that that person or organization may have; create specific
questions to ask that draw those problems out into the open; develop even
more questions that will allow you to explore deeper to find other problems
that may be lurking under the surface; and then practice those new sales
behaviors in unimportant sales situations or with family or friends…but
not practice in the real world with a major sales prospect.

Hilton Johnson has graciously provided many of the ideas for this article, you can get a lot more sales advice from him online by visiting his website at

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