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Closing the Window on Sales Mistakes
Closing the Window on Sales Mistakes

I have been having a heck of a time trying to get my kitchen windows and doors repaired or replaced.  I’ve been dealing with a local salesman from a reputable company. He’s a decent man, who seems to have good intentions but he has not helped me arrive at a decision, and that failure is costing him a commission and me the resolution of a several-year-old problem.

I’ve been reminding myself to be a cooperative prospect by sparing the salesman the typical prospect’s strategy of misleading, getting free info, delaying, and then hiding. I also had every intention of making a decision as soon as possible.  Isn’t that what every salesperson wants?  Unfortunately, after two meetings and several phone calls, I am right where I don’t want to be - I have a job estimate for about twice as much as my budget and I am thinking it over. I think I am doomed to live with my problematic windows and doors.  Let’s take a look at the salesman’s mistakes that have placed me in this situation

  • CREATING RAPPORT:  This salesman keeps telling me to smile.  Problem is, I don’t want to smile. When I am considering making a purchase, I get fairly serious; have little to say, and am not interested in details or humor. Being told to smile is highly irritating and effectively shuts down efficient decision-making processes on my part. You probably don’t tell your prospects to smile, but may I suggest that you don’t tell your prospects to do anything?  Being told what to do conjures up images from one’s childhood, and adults don’t want a salesperson telling them what to do. Polite requests and suggestions are usually well received; but don’t give orders or tell people what they should or need to do.


  • FOCUSING ON MY PROBLEM:  Over the course of our discussions, it has occurred to me that we have strayed a long way from the original problems, which were very simple: too much winter sunlight in the kitchen and moisture inside the glass of one door. By suggesting solutions that go well beyond these problems, the salesman has caused me to feel as though I’m just being upsold and that my concerns are secondary to his. If you want earn your prospect’s trust, focus on his specific pains, concerns, or problems; don’t suggest solutions to problems that the prospect has not mentioned. 


  • STAYING WITHIN MY BUDGET:  My salesman never asked me about my budget. If he had, I would have gladly told him that I am looking for a solution in the $3,000-$5,000 range.  At our second meeting, he presented me with a proposal for $10,500.  WOW!  TWICE what I had planned on.  Naturally I started thinking of all the things I could do with ten thousand dollars, and shading my kitchen from excessive winter sun was not high on the list.  Before you create a proposal or quote, it’s important to discuss money and budgets with your prospect. If the only response you ever get to budget questions is, “We don’t have a budget, we just want you to tell us how much it’s going to cost,” then you might need some new questioning skills in your sales tool bag.


  • FACILITATING A DECISION:  My salesman never inquired as to the who, what, when, where, why, or how of my decision-making processes.  He just kept spewing forth more and more information, probably hoping that I would pull out my checkbook. Before you do a lot of work for prospects, it’s a good idea to explore how they make decisions. “Are you the decision maker?” or “Can you make a decision today?” are bad ways to start. Try something a bit more nurturing and gentle, like, “Susan, I know that ten thousand dollars is a big decision for most folks. So, I was wondering how you and George arrive at a decision when you are thinking about spending that much.”


Do you make any of these sales mistakes mentioned above?  I’ve made them all and more, so I sympathize with my window salesman. But my sympathy isn’t solving my problem and it isn’t helping him make a living. I hope 2009 will bring me a window- and-door solution that:

  • is in my budget,
  • focuses on fixing my original problem, and
  • makes me want to MAKE A DECISION.

Now that would make me SMILE!

Until then, I suppose I’ll just keep thinking-it-over.

Brad McDonald is President of Sandler Training of Norfolk.  He can be reached at 757-227-9996.

Copyright Sandler Training, 2009.

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