By Steve Riddell
Head of Customer Experience


In one of his films, W.C. Fields plays an executive whose desk is in a state of clutter. In one particular scene, he returns to find that someone has cleaned, organized, and re-arranged his desk. The desktop is clean and a picture of neatness and efficiency. Completely frustrated because he cannot find anything, Fields grabs a stack of papers and thrusts them into the air. Watching the papers settle, he backs off with a smile and grins with satisfaction.

Change is often the hardest thing to accept and even more difficult to put into practice. Salespeople resist change and usually dislike doing many of the things necessary to create better results. The real “power” in selling rests in your understanding of how to effectively negotiate. Understanding the principles below will help you “change” for the better, with results you can be proud of.

1. People buy based on emotion, never on the technical aspects of your product or service.

Technical information will be used to support the reasons behind the sale, but emotion is what triggers the buying process. Negotiating the sale relies upon your ability to “emotionally” create the imagery surrounding the customer’s needs, wants, and desires. The only way to this is by asking questions that get the customer to talk freely with you. Uncovering the emotional hot-buttons of your customer will increase the odds of making the sale.

2. It is not enough to just ask questions, you’ve got to ask the “right kinds of questions.”

Anyone can ask a question, and most salespeople understand this part of the process. Very few, however, know how to position questions in such a way that not only provides information, but also a pleasant experience. Two questions that I use more often than any other whenever I encounter an objection are:

a. “If I could show you a way that you could ________, would that be of interest to you? and

b. “Obviously you have a reason for saying that, may I ask what it is?”

Getting potential customers to provide you with needs, wants, and desires takes skill and practice if you are to be effective.

3. If you don’t prove that it costs more to “put off a buying decision” or “do nothing,” the customer will do nothing.

Most sales are lost because of the inability of salespeople to help the customer to a buying decision. You must know the costs of a customer’s indecision and be able to articulate this to the customer so that he/she understands the consequences, thereby, increasing the sense of urgency to buy.

4. Controlling the conversation increases your odds of making the sale, and gives you effective gains that will increase your volume.

You must control the conversation in a way that is pleasant to the customer. The best way to lead the conversation is to be naturally inquisitive and ask good open-ended questions. When you are asking questions, you are in control or leading the discussion. The minute the customer starts asking questions, you lose control. While you cannot prevent a customer from asking questions, you must always be prepared to ask a question after you have answered one.

By controlling the conversation, you get to a buying decision in less time, and leave yourself more time to make more calls. I have witnessed efficiency gains and have taught people to double their sales volume by doing so.

5. In a highly competitive market, you either compete on price, or you compete on added values and a pleasant buying experience.

During my 20-year career in selling, I have never had the good fortune to have had products with the lowest possible price. Someone could always beat me on price. Unless you have the lowest price on your product or service, your only solution to competing in the marketplace is to make sure that the customer understands the “value” of purchasing from you and your company.

When I worked for a large computer manufacturer, our own dealers could beat us on price, but we set out to create a “pleasant buying experience” for our customers. In doing so, price became less of an issue with the quality of the service and pleasant experience leading the way. We knew we had hit the mark with our customers when we started getting letters from customers telling us about the wonderful experience that they had when they shopped with us.

When you “add value,” people will usually pay more.

6. When you “appear” the same as your competitors, the decision will always be made on price. Enough said.

Most companies and salespeople have not adequately learned to differentiate themselves from the competition, leaving the choice in the hands of the customer to be made on a price comparison alone. This is a sad testament to those of us in the selling industry, but should create an unbelievable opportunity for you. Most people know how to take an order over the phone, but very few people really know how to sell effectively.

Effectively negotiating the sale requires skill and an understanding of what really motivates buyers. Become a student and learn the concepts that successful salespeople instinctively know. Train yourself to do the things that others won’t do. Convince yourself to quit thinking like the masses and recognize the opportunities that lie before you, and you can achieve extraordinary telephone sales results. Happy selling!

Steve Riddell is an experienced Chief Sales, Experience and Operating Officer with a demonstrated history of working with startups, sales and service teams. An engaging speaker, he addresses sales strategies and tactics with equal expertise and insight. Prior to becoming Head of Customer Experience at Casper, he was Chief Sales Officer, Telesales, Sprint, and Chief Sales Officer at (A Home Depot Company).