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John Windsor

Excellent post, Jill! Particularly items 1 and 5. In fact, one sentence in particular could have been a powerful post all by itself: "The only thing that matters is what your customers hear."

Thanks for the great insights!

Trish Bertuzzi

Great tips Jill. The most important tip I learned when I started selling was to set a daily personal quota for prospect calls. I make 15 prospecting calls every day. Sometimes it takes me all day to achieve my goal. I learned that you have to make the calls no matter how much you are on the road, how many conference calls you have scheduled or how many client deadlines you have. If you pay attention to the top of the funnel, the right numbers come out the bottom.

Roger Bauer

Good stuff Jill.

I'd like to add a little something to #4--consider automating as much of the process as possible to insure that you complete all of the pre-planned touch points and follow through with each prospect that you reach. There are software platforms out there that can help with this such as Infusion or Marketo. If you know it's going to take 8 touches, bake that many into your process but have as many on auto-pilot as possible so your calls are worthwhile and profitable versus dialing just to get the requisite number of "nos" out of the way.

I couldn't agree more with point #5. Buyers don't buy when we want them to buy, and they don't follow our sales process. They have their own buying process which we need to understand if we're to be successful. That ties into #4 nicely once the buying process is understood.




This is a terrific post for beginner and experienced sales people. It even got me thinking about my own sales process!


Brian Carroll

Great post Jill. As you say, one of the hardest things for sales people is getting their foot in the door (tip #4) with the right people in the right companies. Here's a 5 more tips related to that.

1. Define your goals – Be clear on what you want. Do you want 200 more leads in your database? Do you want to generate $675K in new business in revenue this year? Do you want to add 15 new customers this quarter?

2. Build your personal prospecting engine - Leverage these activities by communicating with your prospects, customers, networks and alliance partners in a consistent manner by using traditional direct marketing methods such as direct mail, phone calls, and personal email messages.

3. Develop a lead generation calendar - Map out your activities for each month and then really follow it! And don’t just make irrelevant pitches more often! Create a plan to add value every time you touch your future customers with relevant ideas, content and resources.

4. Use your CRM - Don’t create the biggest database of contacts possible. Instead, seek to create the most relevant database possible which contains the right companies and contacts that influence the buying decision. In the beginning, you won’t have all the data you need. Be patient and you'll build the opportunity profile over time. See each conversation as an opportunity to build a relationship.

5. Be consistent - Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? Dig your well before you’re thirsty. No matter how busy you are, be sure to make time to do personal lead generation activities especially, if you don’t have a marketing team supporting you.


It sseems like it's never too late to learn more about one's own sales process. Even when it seems that what you're doing works, there is much to be learned! Great post.

Jonathan Farrington

Hey Cazy Sister,

Excellent post - here's my input:

Around this time last year, I received an e-mail from an ex-client asking if I had to suggest just twelve essential principles to someone embarking on a sales career, what would I come up with.

I kicked some ideas around for a couple of days and then reproduced my response.

Obviously all of this should be a matter of fact to a “seasoned” sales professional, however, it does no harm whatsoever to go back to basics once in a while. Here is what I came up with for my “Twelve Golden Principles Of Selling”

Principle 1: – Always Sell To People

• People are different

• No two sales are the same

• Aim at becoming a people expert

• Professional sales people actually like people

People buy from people - they always will – despite what the exponents of Sales 2.0 will try to tell you.

Principle 2: – You Have To Sell Yourself

• Be interesting

• Develop ‘intellect’

• Never be arrogant - never talk ‘up’ or ‘down’

• Respect the buyer and they will respect you

• Develop your empathy levels

• Learn to develop rapport

• Control your ego levels

Principle 3: – You Must Ask Questions

• Develop your questioning techniques to uncover needs painlessly

• Remember What? Where? When? Which? Why? Who? And How?

• Continually ‘test your understanding’

Principle 4: – Listen To Understand

• God has given us two ears and one mouth, we should use them in that order

• Successful sales professionals talk for 20% of the time and listen for 80% of the time

• Develop your active listening skills

Principle 5: – Features Must Be Linked To Benefits To Pass The “So What?” Test


• Features are common - benefits are personal and specific

• Use the ‘link phrases’ - ‘which means that……’

• Be specific

Principle 6: – Sell The Results – ‘Paint A Picture’

• Discover ‘prime desires’

• Personalise benefits

• Describe end results

Principle 7: – You Cannot Rely On Logic

• 84% of all buying decisions are based upon emotion - not logic

• What are the chief buying emotions? - Ego - Security - Pride of ownership - Greed - Health - Prestige – Status - Ambition - Fear of loss

Principle 8: –Selective Product Knowledge Is The Key

• Buyers buy solutions and results they do not buy products or services

Principle 9: – Aim To Be Unique – ‘Me First’ Rather Than ‘Me Too’

• Every business, every company, every product has something that is unique

• Look outside the square

• Identify the uniqueness of: - your product - your service - your company - yourself

Principle 10: – Don’t Sell On Price

• It is a ‘cop out’

• Value your expertise - your products - your service and price accordingly

• Always keep the ‘bottom line’ firmly in your mind

• Anyone can give business away - selling on price means we do not need salespeople

Principle 11: – Present Your Solutions – Don’t Tell

• When we present our proposals rather than post/fax/e-mail them we increase the likelihood of a sale by…..a factor of ten

Principle 12: – And Finally: Be Professional At all Times

• The greatest compliment a customer can pay you is to describe you as “professional”

• Don’t worry about being liked –be respected.

• Being professional is not one thing it is three: It is what you do, what you say and how you present yourself,

“When I see a bird that swims like a duck, sounds like a duck and looks like a duck; then I call that bird, a duck” Rudyard Kipling.



Graeme Davidson

That's a superb post. Very helpful for me seeing as I'm in business development for a digital marketing agency!
I shall be reading your blog from now on. I have only started my own too but have found a new community online that I can interact with and maybe even give back some tips too.

Christian Maurer

these are valuable tips even for someone not new to sales.

Specific to new seller I would add the tip to start with asking existing customers why they bought from their new employer.

I believe this tactic fits well into your point 1. Not only does it help the new sales but alos the employer as a good relationship management tool

Debashish Bramha

Hi Jill,
An Excellent Post. I am a silent reader of your blog; I admire your very analytical thought process and writing it down in a proper manner
Though I am in a managerial position now but often interact with junior sales guys.
I can share my experience with you.
Twenty years before when I just started my career I had Boss, he taught me some lessons which I still remember and try to teach to others.
He told this when I was with him in a joint call to a major account.

Principal No 1.
Never think you are a salesman always think you are a businessman. You are closing a deal of your own business .If you loose an order your own business is going to suffer. So always think that you are a businessman never a salesman.

Principal No 2.
Try to take decisions on your own, do a lot of self-analysis and self-talking. When you are rejected don't get dejected about yourself .If rejection can be used properly it can boost up your energy to sale more, a salesman job is a lone job you are alone if the field. When ever rejected think about your past success that's gives you tremendous self confidence to go on and on.

Principal No 3.
On that day when my boss was along with me to my customer I was on my tows and was full of energy. He told me when every you meet with the customer next time., think that I am an invisible man sitting next to you, sounds funny but very effective.

A sale is all about mind game.

With Warm Regards,


maybe i'm just crazy but i've found all the stuff you guys are listing doesn't matter...at all. as much focus as i've given to "value" and "giving first" and being an expert and listening more than i talk, researching my prospects, having a game plan, knowing my market and prospects and clients--and their need/reason for buying, etc, nothing has come of it.

i think there's more to sales and something that's not being addressed here. and i don't know what it is!! i'm not horribly successful but i'm also not the worst sales person out there. meaning, if i knew what that other ingredient were, i'd tell you.

the reason i'm a doubter of everything listed here is that i've seen people do NONE of the things listed here and be wildly successful. mind-boggling, irritatingly successful.

i'm starting to lean toward: it's only about the quality of the product and it's luck who happens to be selling it because in the end it really doesn't matter whether it's dick or jane if the product is good. if it's "that good", people will buy it whether there's a sales person that's a jerk or an angel. the market is dictated by the best product. so, it only comes down to the sales person when there's a near-tie in products or the product is unknown to the market and needs a strong push from an outbound calling team...

i'll look forward to your and your readers' responses.

Jill Konrath

Messels, Here's a couple of my thoughts regarding your comments.

There are occasions when a company has the perfect product at the ideal time with just the right price point. And you're right, anyone could be successful.

But those times are few & far between. I've NEVER worked for one of those firms, although I would have loved to be that fortunate.

So the rest of us are left slogging it out, trying to figure out how to be successful in a highly competitive market.

Every one of these strategies listed by me/others works. If you're having trouble there may be a couple issues at play.

- You may not be implementing them as well as you think you are. I can't tell you how many times I hear people create their own obstacles by being just slightly off in their positioning, questions, etc.

- You're focusing on the wrong stuff. Things like "one stop shopping" are total turn-offs to decision makers, yet many salespeople use that as part of their spiel.

- You're not working on developing your own expertise or using it to become the differentiator. Even if you're selling the exact same thing as the next guy, your own ideas & insights can't be replicated.

You can blame your customers for "not getting it." You can say it's not fair, cause you're don't have the right offering. Or, you can dig in and figure out where you're missing the boat.

Niall Devitt

Love the blog Jill. Its clear you from your knowledge and insight that understand your subject matter better than most. Keep up the good work

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