It’s Hard to Sell If You Refuse to Listen

This note from Adam Boyd struck a chord with me, because I’ve seen similar situations time and again. Sales people and business owners, the folks you would think would always be hugely overconfident in their offerings, sometimes are their own worst enemies, sabotaging deals and crushing their own margins, even when the prospect is desperately trying to give them money.

Take Adam’s story:

My friend had some unsettling experiences recently. First, he came home to his wife who was rattled. Cleaning the windows, she’d seen large handprints outside the window looking into the living room. The prints looked as if someone were looking into the home with their face on the glass. Second, he heard a knocking on his window early one morning a few weeks later. Thinking it was his neighbor coming back from a run, he went outside to visit. No one was there, but fingerprints were on the window. Two days later, it happened again.

Needless to say, he was concerned. He spoke with the police, who said this was typical casing activity by thieves. His wife was rattled, too, and small noises in the home led to sleepless and nervous nights.

Wanting to do something about this, he emailed the local security company owner he knew, George. Here’s the exchange.

Him: “I’m wanting to know about getting a security system installed. What do you recommend and when can we get it done?” (My bold added)

The reply: “We have the best pricing ever right now. I just bought a huge amount of overstock and can really pass along some good prices. It’s just how important you consider it, because some people just want minimum to qualify them for a homeowner’s discount, and some want all the “bells and whistles”. I also offer just the alarm with no monthly requirements…

The email went on to say, “Everything can be negotiated and there are several factors that can adjust price up or down. I can beat my competitors by just selling the alarm and you never having monthly costs added to the deal. And on the flip side, we can swing a stick just like the big companies and do the $99 down and higher monthly rates until it is paid off… where we really shine is at the end of the 36 month agreement, because I can afford to reduce your monthly payments.”

When my friend actually called George, and asked him how fast he could install something, George asked, “Do you need it this week?”
Hearing that he needed it asap, George went back to his routine of talking about how good a deal he could offer. George did get the business. So what’s the problem?

My buddy didn’t care about price! He cared about speed of install so he and his wife could sleep a little easier at night. But George never thought about that. He believes it’s all about price, because that’s what he’s heard for so long from customers. George never asked him why he was in such a hurry, or why he needed it – he assumed he knew those answers, or just skipped over them to his biggest concern – losing a deal over price.

Many salespeople don’t ask enough questions. They don’t ask them because they’re not listening. They’re not listening because they take the path of least resistance – discounting – to close the deal. And as a result, they leave a lot of money, upsell opportunities, and account growth on the table. If they’d just take the time to ask a few questions rather than rush to educate, they and their companies would make higher margins.

Are your people listening?

These are dream sales scenarios, where the prospects are eager to get the deal done and are not looking to chisel away every nickel. Don’t stand in your own way.

Adam is a sales development expert working with companies throughout Texas. You can reach him at

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