It’s Tempting to Quote and Hope

July 10, 2012 by  Filed under: Sales 

Much to my wife’s chagrin, I watch a lot of golf on TV. I love to play golf and I enjoy listening to golf commentators explain the finer points of the game only the pros seem to have the patience to execute.

One of these fine points is the pre shot routine. According to the teaching pros, every serious golfer should go through a pre shot routine before every shot. The game of golf is to a large extent a game of rhythm. Get out of rhythm and all sorts of bad things happen. The pre shot routine helps keep the golfer in a positive mental state and in rhythm throughout the execution of the shot.

Most amateurs simply tee up the ball, address the ball and swing away. You never see a professional golfer do such a thing. Is it possible that possessing the personal discipline to go through a pre shot routine is one of the “little things” that separates the pro from the amateur?

There are a lot of “little things” in the sales process that separate high producers from low producers. Everything in life seems to attract people who excel and other people who fall short. Those of us who have taken time to not only learn the finer points of the sales process, but also have developed the personal discipline to follow the rules of selling seem to — on average — out perform those who simply wing their way through the sale.

I know the rules of selling. I teach the rules of selling. But there are times when I’m tempted to skip some of the steps that I intellectually know tremendously improve my odds of getting the order.

Just last week I received a call from a prospect who wanted to talk about hiring me to conduct a consulting assignment. At the same time, I had a distraction in the form of guests in my house. I knew it was important to follow up promptly with this prospect, but I also felt pressure to get back to my guests, so I allowed myself to give into the temptation to rush through my presentation.

I knew better. I knew that the likelihood of getting a price objection escalates when salespeople quote the customer before successfully adding value. In my haste to follow up promptly and get back to my guests, I rushed my presentation and prematurely quoted my fee.

I made an amateur mistake. I convinced myself that just this one time I could get away with violating one of the most important steps in the sales process: adding value. Adding value would have taken more time on that occasion than I was willing to spend.

So sure enough, the prospect told me that he would have to “think about it.” He told me that the fee I quoted him to conduct a consulting assignment was more expensive than he had thought it would be.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this would have never happened if I had not allowed myself to give into the temptation to rush the sales process.

To add value to your quotes, it’s necessary to ask a lot of questions. It may even be wise to ask questions you already know the answers to because the quality of your questions has a lot to do with how knowledgeable you are perceived by the prospect to be on a given subject. And before most prospects trust you, they must be convinced that you are worthy of their trust.

I have found it helpful to keep a list of really great questions close by so I can refer to it when I have the prospect on the telephone. I don’t want to run the risk of forgetting a question that has added a lot of value for me in the past.

It is tempting to quote and hope, so in your haste be disciplined enough not to allow yourself to give into the temptation to skip steps in the selling process.

Bill Lee is author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line ($21.95) and 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot ($21.95) Plus $6 S&H for the first book and $1 S&H for each additional book. To order, See Shopping Cart at

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