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Tired of Not Knowing How to Sell? Part II

The 4 A’s Transform the Sales Process

You want to know what the biggest difference is when it comes to being a service-oriented facilitator vs. a “salesperson?”

I’ll give you a hint: It starts with an A. That’s because we’re into Part 2 of revealing the key practices that transform the sales experience … the 4 A’s.

We talked about the first two, Ask for Permission and Acknowledge in Part I. Ready for the next two? Drumroll please.

3) Ask questions.

Asking questions and listening vs. talking and trying to persuade changes everything about the interaction.

Why? Because it works for everybody involved. It’s comfortable and real vs. awkward, forced, and phony.

As a coach, you quickly learn the value of asking what Judith Glaser of Conversational Intelligence fame calls “discovery questions” to really get inside the mind and the world of your clients. Open-ended, penetrating questions. No yes or no answers here.

I’m taking Judith’s course now and I gotta tell you, it’s comforting and gratifying to listen to her insights and realize that what she teaches is, at its heart, what I’ve been doing … and teaching … intuitively all these years. The course is validating my approach via the insights gleaned from behavioral and neuroscience, as well as the breadth and depth of her own extensive experience.

She relates a story of doing some work with Union Carbide. They were competing against seven other firms for a contract they really wanted.

She observed in role plays that, “85% of the time, these executives were using statements and 15% of the time, they were asking questions. And almost all those questions were statements in disguise. Many people fall into this conversational pattern when they’re trying to convince someone of their point of view.

She helped them transform the way they interacted with the prospect during conversations. She got the execs asking more discovery questions. And they got the contract. Why? Because the client felt as if the Union Carbide people were partners on their team who understood them and their issues … not just salespeople trying to land a contract.

The coaches I meet as I speak across the country are no different from Judith’s sales executives. Even though coaches can be quite masterful at discovery questions in coaching situations, they seem to throw this skill out the window when entering the sales part of the conversation! When we role-play, I see them devolve into talking too much, trying to convince or persuade, or, at the very least, trying to move the situation along too quickly, because they have an agenda!

So yeah, ask questions … a lot of questions … good, deep, penetrating questions. Open-ended discovery questions. And trust your intuition. Trust that what comes to mind is the right thing to ask, even if … maybe especially if … it’s challenging.

And then keep your mouth shut, listen and pay attention! I used to have the word WAIT on my wall to help me with this. Why Am I Talking?

4) Always Schedule the Next Step

Some people may need time to consider what they want to do. Some personality types just need more time to think and reflect. They may have things to resolve. Can I afford it? Will my spouse / partner go along with this? Do I have the time?

So, what do you do? You have a good conversation with them … asking questions and staying in the coaching mode … and then give them the time and space to decide. No pressure, ever. None of that cheesy tactic that you have to decide today!

But you don’t just let ‘em go either. That wouldn’t be serving them. Your job at this point is to help them reach closure … one way or the other … and feel good about their decision. So, you make sure to schedule a follow-up call or meeting.

You may think this isn’t important. After all, they tell you they’ll get back to you.

Fact is, the great majority of the time they won’t. It’s not because they never intended to. It’s just that time goes by. Life gets in the way, and before you know it, they’ve taken that pot off the burner. Good intentions have a way of fading away.

“When would be a good time to get back together? Can we schedule a follow-up call in a week or so?

Get the answer, then settle on a specific day and time to reconnect. It’s as simple as that. What gets scheduled tends to get done. What doesn’t, doesn’t.

Okay, there you have it … the 4 A’s.

1) Ask permission
2) Acknowledge
3) Ask questions
4) Always schedule the next step

Do these things, and not only will it change your experience of “sales,” it’ll turbo-charge the results in your business.

Now, get out there and try it!

Best Wishes,


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!