David Sandler had a winning smile and a refreshing, no-nonsense attitude. I felt privileged to spend time with him when I interviewed him years ago for Selling Power magazine and had no idea that he would pass away only four years later in the prime of life.
Today the Sandler Training organization is growing at a steady pace and his idea of reinforcing learning is helping tens of thousands of salespeople generate more sales. While other sales trainers that I've interviewed taught formulas that began to wear out after a few weeks of use, Sandler was teaching a practical process that any salesperson could use to win more business.
Here are four things David Sandler told me about how to sell.
1) A sales call is like a Broadway play.
“A sales call is like a Broadway play performed by a psychiatrist. What I mean by that is that you've got to be an actor who can slip into many different roles and you've got to be a psychiatrist who can see past the intellectual defenses people build around them.”
2) The salesperson’s attitude in the opening phase of the call matters.
“Psychiatrists begin with very nurturing questions to establish trust. People feel vulnerable and have learned not to be up front with salespeople. In general, prospects won't tell you about their real problems. Psychiatrists learn very early in their training that what the patient brings to them is never the real problem. Patients can only describe symptoms, the psychiatrist must find the causes, not just relieve the symptoms. The same is true with a prospect. That's why it takes three or four questions about a specific subject before you can go past a prospect's natural defenses. Each answer becomes a little more revealing than the previous one.”
3) There are five critical steps in the sales process.
“There are five steps to the formula: well, hurt, sick, critical and well. As soon as you talk to a prospect, you begin by finding a hurt through reversing questions. Then you expand your questions to a group of pains until the prospect is sick.
If you continue to work on that sickness with more questions, you will have a prospect on the critical list. Then your selling job becomes easy, because all you have to do is make him well again. It’s not easy for people to remember intellectual formulas. To help them remember, I tell them a story like this one:
Let’s say you go to see your doctor for your annual physical. A complete checkup will probably cost you about $300. Your doctor will ask you to strip down in the examining room. Then he'll come in and poke at you, hook you up to an EKG, X-ray your chest, then put you on a stress test that can kill you if you're not a runner. He feeds you chalk, he punches you and pokes you everywhere. And you're saying to yourself, 'This isn't worth $300. I should be out there making calls. What am I doing here spending an hour and a half with this guy?'
Finally he says, 'Okay, the examination is over, get dressed and come into my office.' In his office he has a little light box with your X-ray clipped on it. It's a picture of you. The doctor looks at this picture while you're wondering how quickly you can get out of there. You think, 'Let's give him the $300 and get going.' Then he looks at these things closer, turns to you and asks, 'Has anybody in your family ever had kidney problems?' You say 'No.' Then he looks back at that X-ray again. Now, this time he talks to the X-ray saying, 'Now, there is nothing really serious here. I don't think we want to worry too much and we can take our time on this. What are you doing tomorrow morning? I want you to go down to the hospital because I want to check this out. I don't like what I see.'
At that moment, your mind went from $300 to a blank check. That's what a good salesperson does.”
4) You must develop the right attitude for success
“Sales success begins with an internal attitude. I want salespeople to generate this attitude in order for them to succeed. When you are sitting in front of a prospect, at some point in the presentation you will hear a little voice inside that says,'This is a lot of pressure, perhaps it's easier outside.' Or you'll hear, 'Let's get out of here, this is too much.' Or, 'This guy is not worth the hassle.' At this moment -- if you let your killer instincts guide you -- you won't give in, but forge ahead and win. The job needs to be done, that's why they pay you. Your boss is not buying your need to be liked; your boss is buying your need to go to the bank. At the same time, you need to be honest and ethical. You can't lie, you can't mislead a customer and you can't break the law to get a sale.”
A version of this post appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. For more information on David Sandler training methodologies visit Sandler.com.