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Welcome to The Power of Selling
You’re about to go on a journey that will take you to places you can’t even imagine. Think about being able

to get what you want in life. While that may sound far-fetched, it’s not. You really can get what you want,

if you learn to use the right skills. That’s what this book is about.

Selling is a skill that everyone uses every day, no matter what they do for a living. Want to be successful?

Learn how to sell. “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get

what they want,” according to famous sales expert, Zig Ziglar. That means listening and connecting with

people, understanding their needs, what they want, what motivates them, and then capturing their

imagination with a reason to buy…from you (Ziglar).

This book is different from other textbooks about selling. While it uses the traditional selling tenets as its

foundation, it adapts the concepts to the rapidly changing world of business in today’s environment,

including the use of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, wikis, and other interactive ways of connecting

with customers. In addition, this book is filled with many unique approaches to traditional topics. For

example, Chapter 10 “The Presentation: The Power of Solving Problems” covers how to create an elevator

pitch for your product as well as for your personal brand; Chapter 13 “Follow-Up: The Power of Providing

Service That Sells” explains Net Promoter Score, a nontraditional method of measuring of customer

satisfaction; and Chapter 15 “Entrepreneurial Selling: The Power of Running Your Own

Business” addresses how selling can help you realize your dream of being an entrepreneur and starting

your own company.

There are four special features that make this book interesting and interactive:

1. Links to videos, Web sites, articles, and podcasts. The focus on real-world experience and

sales professionals is carried throughout the book. Not only will you learn from real examples, but

you’ll also learn from current events.

2. Video ride-alongs. The best way to learn selling is to experience it. And just about every

salesperson starts out in sales by going on ride-alongs with an experienced salesperson or manager to

learn how selling is done firsthand. In order to provide the experience of a ride-along, each chapter

starts with a short video featuring a sales professional who shares personal insights and practical tips

about how he uses the key concepts that are covered in the chapter. These videos, which were made

exclusively for The Power of Selling, highlight sales professionals who are personally interested in

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helping you learn and succeed. In fact, you can contact any of these selling professionals directly using

the contact information at the end of this preface.

3. The Power of Selling LinkedIn group. Selling professionals from across the country are part of a

LinkedIn group created expressly for the students and faculty who use The Power of Selling. Simply

go to LinkedIn and joinThe Power of Selling group to network, connect, join or start discussions, or

ask questions to the group. The people in the group are looking forward to connecting with you. The

sales professionals featured in the video ride-alongs are also members of this group. Feel free to

contact them individually or add them to your network. Visit http://www.linkedin.comand create a

profile (see Chapter 3 “The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work” for

details), then search “Groups” for “The Power of Selling” and join the group. If you already have a

LinkedIn profile, click on the following link and join The Power of Selling group.


4. Selling U. The last section of each chapter is called Selling U, which applies the key concepts to selling

yourself as a brand to get the job you want. Selling U teaches you how to think about yourself as a

brand through every step of your career search. These sections throughout the book include details on

key career searching tips such as how to create a cover letter and résumé that sells, how to target

prospective employers, how to craft your personal elevator pitch, how to ace interviews, how to follow

up, how to negotiate and accept the right job offer, and what to do to prepare for your first day of your

new job. Links to videos, Web sites, articles, and other interactive resources make Selling U an

excellent complement to the selling material and the ultimate resource for how to build your personal

brand in this very competitive twenty-first century.

There are four features that are used throughout the book that reinforce key concepts:

1. Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands. These short vignettes highlight

examples of how successful companies implemented one of the concepts covered in the chapter.

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2. Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople. Real-life advice from sales

professionals about how to be successful in sales is showcased in these short accounts.

3. Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View. Feedback from

customers about sales techniques and what they look for in a salesperson and a brand are brought to

life in these short features.

4. You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search. Helpful tips highlighted in the Selling

U section of each chapter are emphasized in these sidebars.

It’s a powerful lineup designed to give you insight and experience into the profession of selling and teach

you how to get what you want in life. Over the course of this semester, you’ll learn how to sell products,

services, concepts, and ideas. More important, you’ll learn how to sell the most important


Selling is a journey. Your journey starts here.

Meet the Sales Professionals Featured

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Sales professionals (left to right): Lisa Peskin, Paul Blake, Tonya Murphy, Andrew Sykes, Rachel

Gordon, Priya Masih, David Fox.

Lisa Peskin, Sales Trainer at Business Development University

Lisa thought she wanted to be a doctor and declared her major as premed at Pennsylvania State

University. It was only after she completed all the prerequisite courses, except one, that she decided she

didn’t like science. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After she completed her Master

of Business Administration at Temple University, her plan was to pursue a career in marketing and

decided to take a job in sales to learn the business. Once she started selling, she never looked back. Lisa

now has over twenty years of sales and sales training experience in payroll and human resources services,

financial services, and other business-to-business (B2B) industries. She started her selling career in 1989

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at Automated Data Processing (ADP) and rose to become the vice president of sales where she was

responsible for four district managers and forty salespeople. Then she decided to put her successful selling

skills to work as a sales trainer at Bayview Financial and Interbay Funding. Today she is a principal, sales

trainer, and coach at Business Development University, a company that conducts sales training with a

focus in B2B selling.

Connect with Lisa Peskin on LinkedIn or by e-mail:

[email protected]

Paul Blake, Vice President of Sales at Greater Media Philadelphia

Paul was born to sell. He started his career in sales in 1989 when he graduated from Bloomsburg

University of Pennsylvania. He quickly rose to a leadership role as the director of sales at Global

Television Sports, then sales manager at Clear Channel Radio, WJJZ-FM, and WMMR-FM. In 2006, Paul

was promoted to vice president of sales at Greater Media Philadelphia, responsible for the advertising

sales for five radio stations in Philadelphia and managing over forty salespeople.

Connect with Paul Blake on LinkedIn or by e-mail:

[email protected]

Tonya Murphy, General Sales Manager at WBEN-FM

Tonya thought she wanted to be the next Barbara Walters, but soon learned that the newsroom was not

the place for her. Thanks to internships at two television stations and a sales-savvy mentor, she found that

her that her passion was sales. Tonya graduated from Cabrini College in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in

English/Communications. She has been in sales for seventeen years and has held sales roles in media

including at Greater Media Philadelphia. Last year, Tonya was promoted to general sales manager at

WBEN-FM, one of the radio stations owned by Greater Media Philadelphia.

Connect with Tonya Murphy on LinkedIn or by e-mail:

[email protected]

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Andrew Sykes, Pharmaceutical Sales Specialist at AstraZeneca

Andrew has always had a focus on selling and the pharmaceutical industry. He graduated from Saint

Joseph’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Marketing in 2005. After graduation

Andrew landed his dream job at AstraZeneca, a major pharmaceutical company, and today he is a

pharmaceutical sales specialist on the cardiovascular account team. Andrew’s customers are doctors who

prescribe the drugs he represents.

Connect with Andrew Sykes on LinkedIn or by e-mail:

[email protected]

Rachel Gordon, Account Manager at WMGK-FM

When she graduated from Cornell University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Fashion, Business

Management, and Human Development, Rachel was certain she wanted to pursue a career in fashion

merchandising. But she found she didn’t enjoy it as much as she thought she would. She made a switch to

the media industry with a job as the national director of marketing at Westwood One. It was there that she

discovered her passion for sales. She is currently an account manager at WMGK, the classic rock station in

Philadelphia, and happy that she made the decision to change the direction of her career.

Connect with Rachel Gordon on LinkedIn or by e-mail:

[email protected]

Priya Masih, Sales Representative at Lupin Pharmaceuticals

Since graduating from Saint Joseph’s University in 2004 with a Master of Science in International

Marketing and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Priya has proven herself to be an

outstanding sales achiever at The Hartford Customer Services Group, Creative Channel Services, and

GlaxoSmithKline with recognition such as The Winner’s Circle and the Top Sales Rep Award. She is

currently a sales representative at Lupin Pharmaceuticals.

Connect with Priya Masih on LinkedIn or by e-mail:

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[email protected]

David Fox, Founder and CEO at Brave Spirits

David gave up the corporate life to start Brave Spirits. His background in marketing, new product

development, and sales includes work on major brands from Procter & Gamble, General Mills, and Mars;

spirits brands from Diageo; and wine brands from Brown-Foreman. In 2005 he and his business partner

conceived the concept for Brave Spirits and launched the company in 2007. Brave Spirits distributes

premium vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey and donates $2.00 of every bottle sold to charities that support

the men and women of America’s military, police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS). It is

David’s way of creating a toast to the brave.

Learn more about Brave Spirits or connect with David Fox by e-mail:

[email protected]

Zig Ziglar, “Zig Ziglar’s Little PDF of Big Quotes,”, BookofBigQuotes.pdf (accessed

January 9, 2010).

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Chapter 1
The Power to Get What You Want in Life

Welcome to The Power of Selling
Do you want to be successful in sales and in life? You’ll have a chance to meet the pros, the people who

have achieved success in their careers in sales. At the beginning of each chapter you’ll have the

opportunity to go on a video ride-along, a chance to hear from sales professionals and learn firsthand

what it’s like to be in sales. You’ll go on video ride-alongs with some of the best in the business and hear

about their personal selling experiences and tips of the trade.

1.1 Get What You Want Every Day

1. Understand the role of selling in everyday life.

What does success look like to you?

For most people, to achieve personal success entails more than just making a lot of money. Many

would claim that to be successful in a career means to have fulfilled an ongoing goal—one that has

been carefully planned according to their interests and passions. Is it your vision to run your own

business? Or would you rather pursue a profession in a service organization? Do you want to excel in

the technology field or, perhaps, work in the arts? Can you see yourself as a senior executive?

Imagine yourself in the role that defines success for you. Undoubtedly, to assume this role requires

more than just an initial desire; those who are most successful take many necessary steps over time

to become sufficiently qualified for the job presented to them. Think about your goal: what it will

take to get there?

With a good plan and the right information, you can achieve whatever you set out to do. It may seem

like a distant dream at the moment, but it can be a reality sooner than you think. Think about

successful people who do what you want to do. What do they all have in common? Of course, they

have all worked hard to get to their current position, and they all have a passion for their job. There

is, additionally, a subtler key ingredient for success that they all share; all successful people

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effectively engage in personal selling, the process of interacting one-on-one with someone to provide

information that will influence a purchase or action. [1]

Congratulations, You’re in Sales!

If you think personal selling is only for salespeople, think again. Everyone in every walk of life uses

personal selling (some more effectively than others!). Selling is what makes people successful. We all have

to sell our ideas, our points of view, and ourselves every day to all sorts of people—and not just those

related to our jobs. For example, when you work on a team project, you have to sell your ideas about how

your team should approach the project (or, sometimes more delicately, you will have to persuade others as

to what you should do about a lazy team member). When you are with your friends, you have to sell your

point of view about which movie you want to see or where you want to go to eat. When you pitch in for a

friend’s gift, you have to sell your ideas about what gift to give. You are selling every day whether you

realize it or not.

Think about the products and services that you buy (and concepts and causes that you believe in) and how

selling plays a role in your purchase decision. If you rented an apartment or bought a car, someone sold

you on the one you chose. If you read a product review for a new computer online then went into the store

to buy it, someone reinforced your decision and sold you the brand and model you bought. If you ran in a

5K race to raise money for a charity, someone sold you on why you should invest your time and your

money in that particular cause. A professor, an advisor, or another student may have even sold you on

taking this course!

“I Sell Stories”

Selling is vital in all aspects of business, just as it is in daily life. Consider Ike Richman, the vice president

of public relations for Comcast-Spectacor, who is responsible for the public relations for all NBA and NHL

games and hundreds of concerts and events held at the company’s Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

When you ask Ike to describe his job, he replies, “I sell stories.” What he means is that he has to “pitch”—

or advertise—his stories (about the games or concerts) to convince the press to cover the events that he is

promoting. So, even though he is not in the sales department, his job involves selling. Gary Kopervas,

similarly, is the chief creative strategist at Backe Digital Brand Communications. He works in the creative

department in an advertising agency, yet he describes his job as “selling ideas,” not creating ads. Connie

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Pearson-Bernard, the president and founder of Seamless Events, Inc., an event planning company, says

she sells experiences. For many of her clients, she also sells time because she and her team execute all the

required details to create the perfect event. As you notice, all these people are engaged in selling, even

though “sales” may not be included in their respective job descriptions. Clearly, whether you pursue a

career in sales or in another discipline, selling is an important component of every job…and everyday life.

Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Imagine being a nineteen-year-old college dropout with a child on the way.

That described Tom Hopkins in 1976. He worked in construction to pay the bills. He realized there had to

be a better way to make a living, so he took a job in real estate sales, but had no success. In fact, after his

first six months, he had only sold one house and made an average of just $42 a month to support his


One day, he met someone who suggested that he go to a sales training seminar. Tom was inspired by the

concepts in the seminar and put them to work. Before he was thirty, Tom was a millionaire selling real

estate. Tom is now a legend in the selling arena with his “Training for Champions” and “Sales Boot Camp”

programs. He is a successful author, speaker, columnist, and sales coach at Tom Hopkins International,

which provides sales training for companies such as Best Buy, State Farm Insurance, Aflac, U.S. Army

Recruiters, and more. [2]

The New World of Selling

There are some people who might think of selling as a high-pressure encounter between a salesperson and

a customer. Years ago, that may have been the case in some situations. But in today’s world, successful

selling is not something you do “to” a customer, it is something you do “with” a customer. The customer

has a voice and is involved in most selling situations. In fact, Internet-based tools such as forums, social

networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, along with Web sites, live chat, and other interactive

features allow customers to participate in the process no matter what they are buying.

Brand + Selling = Success

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What do Ikea, Red Bull, Mini Cooper, and Apple have in common? All four are strong and highly

identifiable brands. You might wonder what role a brand name plays in selling strategy. Perhaps it is not

always noticeable, but when you buy a Red Bull at the corner store for some extra energy, at that very

moment, a specific, chosen brand has become an extremely powerful selling tool, and it has significantly

influenced your inclination to purchase that particular drink. Selling can only be successful when that

thing that you sell has perceived value applied to it by the consumer—why Red Bull rather than another

caffeine drink? Red Bull must be more effective if a person chooses it rather than the other brand nearby.

A brand is a tool to establish value in the eyes of the customer because it indicates something unique. On

the surface, a brand is identified by a name, logo, or symbol so that it is consistently recognized. [3] But a

brand is more than that.

A great brand has four key characteristics:

1. It is unique. (Ikea furniture has exclusive, on-trend styling at unbelievable prices.)

2. It is consistent. (Red Bull looks and tastes the same no matter where you buy it.)

3. It is relevant. (Mini Cooper looks cool and doesn’t use much gas, and you can design your own


4. It has an emotional connection with its customers. (An iPod, with hundreds of personalized qualities,

becomes a loved companion.)

A brand is important in selling because it inherently offers something special that the customer values. In

addition, people trust brands because they know what they can expect; brands, over time, establish a

reputation for their specific and consistent product. If this changes, there could be negative

repercussions—for example, what would happen if thousands of Mini Coopers started to break down?

Customers expect a reliable car and would not purchase a Mini if they could not expect performance.

Brand names emerge in all different sects of the consumer market—they can represent products, like

PowerBar, or services, like FedEx. Brands can also be places, like Macy’s,, or even Las Vegas

(everyone knows that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! [4]). Brands can be concepts or causes like

MTV’s Rock the Vote or the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Brands can also be people, like Lady Gaga,

Jay-Z, Martha Stewart, or Barack Obama.

When products, services, concepts, ideas, and people demonstrate the characteristics of a brand, they are

much easier to sell. For example, if you go to McDonald’s for lunch, you know you can always get a Big

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Mac and fries, and you always know it will taste the same whether you go to the McDonald’s near campus

or one closer to your home. Or if you go to Abercrombie & Fitch, you can expect the store to look and feel

the same and carry the same kind of merchandise whether you go to a store in Baltimore, Maryland, or

Seattle, Washington.

The same concept applies to people. Think about your classmates: is there one that is always prepared?

He or she is the one who always does well on the tests, participates in class, is a good team player, and

gets good grades on assignments. This person has created a brand. Everyone knows that they can count

on this person; everyone knows what to expect. Conversely, the same is true for a person who is often

times late and sometimes arrives unprepared. You probably wouldn’t want to work with that person

because you’re not sure if that person will hold up his or her end of the project. Which one would you

choose as a teammate? Which one would you trust to work with on a class project? Which person is your

brand of choice?

The Power of an Emotional Connection

Uniqueness (no other fries taste like McDonald’s), consistency (a Coke tastes like Coke no matter where

you buy it), and relevance (your college bookstore is only relevant on a college campus, not in your local

mall) are clear as characteristics of a brand, but the most important characteristic is also the most

abstract—the emotional connection it creates with its customers. Some brands create such a strong

emotional connection that its customers become brand fans or advocates and actually take on the role of

selling the brand by way of referrals, online reviews, user-generated content, and word-of-mouth


Harley-Davidson measures their customer loyalty by the number of customers who have the company’s

logo tattooed on their body. [5] These customers are emotionally connected with the brand, which offers

unique selling opportunities for Harley-Davidson dealerships. Another example of emotional connection

to a brand can be found by examining consumer relationships to sports teams. Fans willingly advertise

their favorite team by wearing T-shirts, hats, and even putting decals and bumper stickers on their cars.

They attend games (some of which require hours of standing in line) or watch them religiously on

television. For popular events, in fact, many times customers are willing to pay more than the face value of

tickets to attend; some will spend hundreds of dollars to see the NCAA Final Four, the World Series, or

the Super Bowl. These consumers are emotionally connected to their teams, and they want to be there to

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support them. A loud, sold-out stadium certainly illustrates why it’s easier to sell brands when customers

are emotionally connected.

Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
Emotion Sells

Did you ever consider why the salespeople at Starbucks are called baristas instead of employees?

Howard Schultz, the chief executive officer of Starbucks, has built the brand in his vision since the

company began in 1982. He believes strongly that the brand stands for more than beans. During an

interview, he said, “By making a deeper emotional connection with your customers, your brand will stand

out from the hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors, entrepreneurs, and business owners selling similar

services and products.” [6] Schultz is especially passionate about the role salespeople have in creating the

“Starbucks” experience.

The brand recently launched a new marketing campaign called “It’s not just coffee. It’s Starbucks.” Listen

to what baristas have to say about the latest Starbucks marketing campaign. [7]

Starbucks baristas talk about their emotional connection to the brand.

Source: Starbucks Corporation

The concept of emotional connection is not limited to the brand, it is also an especially critical component

in the actual practice of selling. Customers are much more readily persuaded to make a purchase if they

develop an emotional connection with the salesperson. If you go to Best Buy to look at a new home theater

system, a helpful (or unhelpful) salesperson can make all the difference in whether you buy a particular

system from that particular Best Buy or not. If the salesperson asks questions to understand your needs

and develops a good relationship (or emotional connection) with you, it will greatly increase your chances

of purchasing the home theater system from him. Rock star Gene Simmons, front man for the legendary

rock band KISS and wildly successful entrepreneur, summed it up best: “I have to have an emotional

connection to what I am ultimately selling because it is emotion, whether you are selling religion, politics,

even a breath mint.” [8]

Clearly, brands are fundamental building blocks in the selling process. The bottom line is, great brands =

great sales.

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• Personal selling is a powerful part of everyday life. The selling process can help you get what you want

both personally and professionally.

• You are always selling your ideas, your point of view, and yourself in virtually every situation, from class

participation to going out with friends.

• In order to understand the selling process, you have to understand brands. A brand can be a product,

service, concept, cause, location, or even a person. A brand consistently offers value to a customer with

something that is unique, consistent, and relevant and creates an emotional connection.

• Brands are important in selling because customers trust brands. The brand doesn’t end with the product,

service, or concept; the salesperson is also a brand.


1. Identify a situation in which you were the customer in a personal selling situation. Discuss your

impressions of the salesperson and the selling process.

2. Think about this class. In what ways do you sell yourself to the professor during each class?

3. Think about your school as a brand. Discuss what makes it unique, consistent, and relevant and have an

emotional connection with its customers. How would you use these characteristics if you were trying to

sell or convince someone to attend the school?

4. Think about the following brands: Xbox, Victoria’s Secret, and BMW. Discuss how each brand forms an

emotional connection with its customers. Why is it important in selling?

5. [1] Michael Levens, Marketing: Defined, Explained, Applied (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall,

2010), 181.

6. [2] Tom Hopkins International, “Tom Hopkins

Bio,” (accessed June 7, 2009).

7. [4] Michael McCarthy, “Vegas Goes Back to Naughty Roots,” USA Today, April 11,


June 4, 2009).

8. [5] Fred Reichheld, “The Ultimate Question: How to Measure and Build Customer Loyalty in the Support

Center,” presented via Webinar on May 14, 2009.

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9. [6] Carmine Gallo, “How to Sell More Than a Product,” BusinessWeek, May 19,


June 7, 2009).

10. [7] Eleftheria Parpis, “Starbucks Claims ‘It’s Not Just Coffee,’” Brandweek, May 1,


restaurants/e3i88d85d8ede4fd0afae2e6d752751e2a3 (accessed June 7, 2009).

11. [8] “Gene Simmons: Rock ‘n’ Roll Entrepreneur,” BusinessWeek, September 5,

2008, June

7, 2009).

1.2 Selling: Heartbeat of the Economy and the Company

1. Discuss the role of selling in the economy.

2. Explain the role of selling in an organization.

Look around. Your computer, your car, your jewelry, your eyeglasses, and your cell phone—many of

the things you own—were probably sold to you by someone. Now, think about things you can’t see,

like your cell phone service, your Internet service, and your car insurance. Chances are, those

services were probably sold to you by someone as well. Now that you think about it, you can see that

selling is involved in life in so many ways. But did you ever think about the impact that selling has on

the economy?

In the United States alone, almost 16 million people were employed in jobs in sales in 2008. This

number includes retail salespeople and cashiers, insurance sales agents, real estate brokers and sales

agents, and manufacturing sales reps just to name a few. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

that number will increase to almost 17 million people employed in sales and sales-related

occupations by 2018, which represents a 6.2 percent increase from 2008. That translates to one in

every ten people in the United States having a job in sales.[1] Other estimates, such as the Selling

Power Magazine’s annual report of America’s Top 500 Sales Forces in 2008, puts the total number of

salespeople at the top 500 companies at over twenty million for the first time. [2]

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But the bigger story is the fact that many companies sell their products and services

globally. Multinational corporations (MNCs), large companies that have operations, including selling,

in several countries, [3] such as Procter & Gamble, Dell, Reebok, and Kraft Foods, employed 32

million workers in 2007.[4] Although not all these employees are engaged in selling, the number helps

provide some sense of relativity as to the proportional impact of international business. Most large

MNCs have offices (including sales offices) in many foreign countries. This provides the company

with the opportunity to become integrated into the culture, customs, and business practices of each

country in which it has operations.

A large number of MNCs generate a significant portion of their sales from countries outside the

United States. If you’ve traveled outside the United States, think about the products you saw.

Companies such as Coca-Cola, eBay, Gillette, KFC, and Starbucks have a significant presence in

foreign countries. Many companies expand selling to international markets for several reasons,

including slow population growth in their domestic country, increased competition, opportunity for

growth and profit, and sometimes, out of sheer necessity due to the fact that globalization is rapidly

changing the economic landscape. [5]

In the past, expansion to foreign markets was limited to those corporations that could make the

investment required to locate offices and operations abroad. The Internet, however, has provided

that same opportunity to small- and medium-sized companies, so that they may sell products and

services internationally. Why would small companies want to do this? With only a one-to-five

proportion of Internet users living in the United States, almost 80 percent of Internet users live in

places abroad; thus, there is a much larger market to be found by way of the Internet. Before you

take your lemonade stand global, however, remember that selling internationally is not as simple as

just setting up a Web site. Language, shipping, currency exchange, and taxes are just some of the

costs and considerations necessary for selling products and services internationally via the Internet.

To help companies overcome these barriers of doing business internationally, organizations such as

e-commerce service provider FiftyOne offer technology solutions that manage these important

components of international selling. [6]

Think about the possibilities. When companies such as want to sell globally,

companies like FiftyOne have a selling opportunity. [7] In other words, selling products and services

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can generate more opportunities for selling other products and services in the future. When

companies (FiftyOne is a perfect example) and salespeople think creatively and see the environment

through the customer’s eyes, they can identify selling opportunities that might not otherwise exist.

This is a basic tenet of selling, both domestically and internationally.

The Internet: Power to the People

The Internet has been a game changer for selling in many ways. Just like the Internet expands the reach of

a company to virtually anywhere in the world, it also provides customers with access to information,

products, and services that they never had before. In some industries, the Internet has virtually

eliminated the need for a salesperson. Travel agents are no longer the exclusive providers of reservations

and travel plans. Music stores are almost extinct. Newspaper want ads have almost vanished. In other

industries, the relationship of the salesperson and customer has changed dramatically. The power has

shifted from the seller to the buyer. Take, for example, the auto industry. It used to be that when you

wanted to buy a car, you went to a car dealership. The salesperson would show you the cars, take you out

on a test drive, and then negotiate the selling price when you were ready to buy, holding the dealer invoice

close to the vest. Today, customers may e-mail a car dealership to set up an appointment to drive a

specific car after they have researched different models of cars including features, benefits, competitive

models, editor and customer reviews, competitive pricing, and dealer invoice pricing. In some cases, the

customer may know more than the salesperson. [8]

Sales organizations are embracing a movement called Sales 2.0. You may have heard of Web 2.0, the

second generation of the Internet, which includes interactivity, community, and on-demand information.

Sales 2.0 is a term that appropriately describes a new way of thinking about the role of the Internet in the

selling process as it encompasses the impact of constantly changing technology and multiple electronic

devices, “mash-ups” of different sources of information, and user-generated content on sites like

Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter. According to Tim Sullivan, director of intellectual property

and information for Sales Performance International, these Internet-based changes pose new implications

for sales. Educating customers is no longer the primary function of the salesperson. Customers are

actively involved in engagement, interaction, and collaboration to seek information. Salespeople need to

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understand the power of collaboration both inside their organization and with their customers, so that

they may participate in the online conversation, enabling them to better deliver value. Just as customers

use blogs, wikis, and social networking as tools to learn about a product, companies can use these tools to

learn about customers (and what they want and need). It’s a new mind-set and new technology tools are

constantly changing the landscape—salespeople must be prepared to adjust their reactions

accordingly. [9] The shift of power to the customer is underscored by Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder and

CEO of Selling Power, Inc. According to him, “Sales 2.0 gives the customer a 360-degree view of the

company and provides sales organizations with a variety of tools that help manage that two-way

communication process.”[10] Sales 2.0 takes the selling process to the next generation.

Sales Is Not a Department, It’s a State of Mind


It’s a deal.

Let’s shake on it.

Sign on the dotted line.

You’ve got the job.

Those are the words that signal success in selling. They seem simple, but according to Gerry Tabio,

bringing a sale [11] to fruition is “not just about celebrating the sale; it’s about celebrating the growth of the

customer.” [12] The most successful companies work to build and sustain relationships with the customer

at every touch point, any way in which the company comes in contact with the customer, and consider

selling the job of everyone in the organization. In other words, although there are specific functional

departments such as sales, marketing, operations, human resources, finance, and others, everyone in the

organization is focused on the customer. This is called a customer-centric organization. [13]

You might wonder why all companies aren’t considered customer-centric. After all, if they were in

business to sell products and services to customers, it would make sense that they would be customer-

centric. However, you have probably encountered companies that aren’t really focused on the customer.

How many times have you heard this message while you were on hold to talk to a salesperson or customer

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service representative, “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line for the next available

representative”? Being on hold and hearing a recorded message hardly makes you feel as if you are

important to the company.

It’s All about the Customer

Being customer-centric means insisting on accountability. Although everyone is focused on the customer,

every employee is part of a department or function. Each department has goals and accountabilities. In a

true customer-centric organization, the departments work together to satisfy the needs of the customer

and achieve the financial objectives of the company. Most companies have core functions or departments

such as sales, customer service (sometimes it is included as part of the sales department), marketing,

operations, finance, human resources, product development, procurement, and supply chain management

(also called logistics). Departments such as finance and human resources are

called support (or staff) functions since they provide support for those that are on the front lines such as

sales and customer service (these departments are also called line functions as they are part of a

company’s daily operations). [14] In a customer-centric organization, the focus on the customer helps

prevent organizational “silos” (i.e., when departments work independently of each other and focus only on

their individual goals).

The sales department is the heartbeat of every company. According to Selling Power Magazine, the

manufacturing and service companies listed on its “Power Selling 500 Report” generate $6.7 trillion

dollars in sales annually. Each salesperson supports an average of 12.9 other jobs within the

company. [15]This means that the level of sales that is generated by each salesperson actually pays for the

roles in human resources, marketing, operations, and other departments. It makes sense that the

salespeople fund the operations of the company. After all, it is a salesperson with whom you interact when

you buy a Nissan Cube, lip gloss at Sephora, or an interview suit at Macy’s. The people in the sales

department “ring the cash register” (whether the business has a cash register or not). They are responsible

and accountable to deliver sales to generate revenue and profit, which are required to operate and to

invest in the company. In fact, the sales department is considered so important that even in this difficult

economy, companies should continue to fill open sales positions even if they are not hiring in other

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departments, according to Dennis J. Ceru, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College and the

president of Strategic Management Associates, a consulting firm in Wellesley Hills,

Massachusetts.[16] Without a healthy and strong sales department, companies can wither and die.

Figure 1.4

Each salesperson generates enough revenue and profit to support 12.9 jobs in the average


Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View
Role Reversal

How would you feel if you wanted to buy a new car, but every sales rep you called was in a meeting?

Brad Lathrop, a sales professional, learned the hard way about how a customer feels in this situation.

When he was in the market for a new car, he called several dealerships. Every receptionist told him that

all the salespeople were in meetings. The receptionist at the last dealership he called said the same thing,

but added that if Brad would hold for a minute, she would get a salesperson out of a meeting. It’s no

surprise that was the dealership where Brad eventually bought the car and learned a powerful lesson

about selling.

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Is It Sales, or Is It Marketing?

So you might be wondering, if the sales department interacts with customers, what exactly does the

marketing department do? That’s a great question. Some people use the terms in tandem—sales and

marketing—to refer to sales. Some people use the terms interchangeably and refer to marketing as sales.

It’s no wonder that it confuses so many.

According to the American Marketing Association, “marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and

processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for

customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” [17] In other words, it is the role of the marketing

department to use the four Ps of the marketing mix (product, place, promotion, and price) to determine

the brand message, which is ultimately communicated to customers. [18] Then, the marketing department

uses the elements of the promotional mix of advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct

marketing, interactive marketing, and personal selling to get the word out to customers. [19] Marketers

seek to motivate prospective customers to purchase by driving them to a Web site, store, phone, event, or

another related, desired action. Essentially, marketing builds relationships between customers and the

brand. When you see an online ad for Best Buy, get a text message about the new release of Terminator 2:

Judgment Day on Blu-ray, call the 800 number to check on your Rewards Zone point balance, post a

comment on the Best Buy Facebook page, respond to a tweet from Best Buy on Twitter, see a newspaper

insert or an ad on television, or read about the opening of a new store near year you, these are all

examples of marketing. They are designed to encourage you to engage with the brand and encourage you

to take an action—visit the store, go to the Web site, call the 800 number, or tell your friends about the


When you go into the store or visit the Web site, it’s the sales department that takes over. A salesperson

will speak with you (either in person in the store, online with live chat, or by phone) to determine what

you need and to help you make the best decision by communicating product information (this printer is

wireless), service information (we can deliver that tomorrow), warranty information (it has a 90-day

manufacturer warranty), and other pertinent facts. The salesperson extends the relationship that was

established with the marketing contacts and makes a personal connection with you. If you have a good

experience, your relationship with Best Buy gets even better, and you are more likely to shop there again

and tell your friends.

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At times, however, sales and marketing don’t play well together. When organizations are not customer-

centric, the departments may appear to have separate or conflicting goals. Marketing may feel that sales

doesn’t follow up on prospective customers, or perhaps sales feels that the marketing efforts are focused

on the wrong customers.

Figure 1.5 Marketing and Sales: How They Work Together

In addition to closing the sale (when the customer purchases the product or service), the salesperson has a

very important role in the marketing process. Because the salesperson (in the store, online, or on the

phone) is a primary touch point and a personal interaction with the customer, the salesperson is the

brand in the eyes of the customer. According to Dr. David A. Shore of Harvard University, “The sales force

is the most visible manifestation of the brand. Salespeople need to say with a singular voice, ‘This is who

we are, and, by extension, this is who we are not.’ The critical element that power brands have is trust, and

a sales force needs to become the trusted advisor to the customer.”[20]

So now you can see that marketing and sales work hand-in-hand: one develops the brand and the other

assumes the image of the brand. Neither works without the other, and the relationship between the

functions must be transparent to the customer. There’s only one brand in the eyes of the customer, not

two departments. When marketing and sales work well together, the customer experience is seamless.

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• Sales is a career opportunity for you to consider; one in ten people in the United States has a job in sales

or a sales-related occupation.

• In this global economy, many companies sell products in multiple countries around the world.

Many multinational corporations have sales offices in foreign countries, and large and small companies

sell globally by using the Internet.

• Sales 2.0 is a term that is used to refer to the ever-changing technology, such as social networking, that is

changing the relationship salespeople have with customers. It’s important to understand how technology

can support your communication and collaboration with customers.

• A customer-centric organization has the customer as the focal point. You work as a team with all

functions in the company to provide products and services that meet customers’ needs.

• Sales and marketing are two distinct but closely related functions. Sales converts the customer to a

purchaser with one-on-one interaction. Marketing determines the brand message and uses the elements

of the promotion mix to motivate the customer to take an action. Both work together to build ongoing

relationships with customers.


1. Visit and review the “Selling Power 500.” Discuss the top ten companies

listed in one of the six categories of businesses (office and computer equipment, insurance, consumables,

communications, medical products, or financial services). Did you realize these companies employed so

many salespeople? Have you come in contact with salespeople from any of these companies? To whom

do these salespeople sell?

2. Identify a company that you think is customer-centric and one that is not. Identify at least three touch

points for each company. Based on this, discuss why you think each company is customer-centric or not.

3. Discuss the difference between sales and marketing. Choose one of your favorite retail brands and discuss

one example of sales and one example of marketing.

4. [1] United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment by Major Occupational

Group, 2008 and Projected 2018,” Economic News Release Table 5,

2009, (accessed May 6, 2010).

5. [2] “Selling Power 500: America’s 500 Largest Sales Forces,” Selling Power, October 2008, 52.

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6. [4] Bureau of Economic Analysis, International Economic Accounts, “Summary Estimates for Multinational

Companies: Employment, Sales, and Capital Expenditures for 2007,” April 17,

2009, June 5, 2009).

7. [5] George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing and

Communications Perspective, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 653–54.

8. [6] FiftyOne, (accessed June 5, 2009).

9. [7] Caroline McCarthy, “ Will Extend Reach to Canada, Europe,” CNET News

Blog, (accessed June 5, 2009).

10. [8] Robert McGarvey and Babs S. Harrison, “The Human Element: How the Web Brings People Together in

an Integrated Selling System,” Selling Power 20, no.

8, (accessed March 16, 2010).

11. [9] Heather Baldwin, “What Does Sales 2.0 Mean for You?” Selling Power Sales Management eNewsletter,

March 3, 2008, (accessed March 16,


12. [10] Selling Power, Sales 2.0 Newsletter, September 18,

2008, (accessed June 21, 2010).

13. [11] BNET Business Dictionary, “Sales,”

BNET,;rbDictionary (accessed June 5, 2009).

14. [12] Gerry Tabio, “How to Create Ideas That Sell,” presentation at Greater Media Philadelphia Sales

Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, May 15, 2009.

15. [13] Barry Welford, “7 Habits of a Truly Customer-Centric Selling Organization,” SMM Internet Marketing

Consultants Newsletter 13, June 5, 2009).

16. [14], “Staff Function,”

function.html (accessed June 8, 2009).

17. [15] “Selling Power 500: America’s 500 Largest Sales Forces,” Selling Power, October 2008, 53.

18. [16] Elaine Pofeldt, “Empty Desk Syndrome: How to Handle a Hiring Freeze,” Inc., May 1,

2008, (accessed June 7, 2009).

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19. [17] American Marketing Association, “About AMA,” October


marketing (accessed June 6, 2009).

20. [19] George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill

Irwin, 2008), 10.

21. [20] Gerhard Gschwandtner, “How Power Brands Sell More,” Selling Power 21, no.

3, (accessed March 16, 2010).

1.3 Selling U: The Power of Your Personal Brand

1. Understand how the selling process can help you get the job you want.

Ultimately, this book is about the power of YOU.

To help you realize that power and get the job you want, this textbook includes a section

called Selling U. It is the final section in every chapter, and it is filled with proven methods,

information, examples, and resources to help you apply the selling concepts you learned in the

chapter so that you may sell yourself to get the job you want.

In the Selling U sections throughout this book you’ll learn skills, such as how to create a cover letter

and résumé that help you stand out, how to communicate with prospective employers, how to go on

successful interviews, how to follow up, and how to negotiate and accept the right job offer. The

complete table of contents is shown here.
Selling U Table of Contents
Chapter 1 “The Power to Get What You Want in Life”: The Power of Your Personal Brand

Chapter 2 “The Power to Choose Your Path: Careers in Sales”: Résumé and Cover Letter Essentials

Chapter 3 “The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work”: Networking: The

Hidden Job Market

Chapter 4 “Business Ethics: The Power of Doing the Right Thing”: Selling Your Personal Brand Ethically:

Résumés and References

Chapter 5 “The Power of Effective Communication”: The Power of Informational Interviews

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Chapter 6 “Why and How People Buy: The Power of Understanding the Customer”: Developing and

Communicating Your Personal FAB

Chapter 7 “Prospecting and Qualifying: The Power to Identify Your Customers”: How to Use Prospecting

Tools to Identify 25 Target Companies

Chapter 8 “The Preapproach: The Power of Preparation”: Six Power-Packed Tools to Let the Right People

Know about Your Brand

Chapter 9 “The Approach: The Power of Connecting”: What’s Your Elevator Pitch for Your Brand?

Chapter 10 “The Presentation: The Power of Solving Problems”: Selling Yourself in an Interview

Chapter 11 “Handling Objections: The Power of Learning from Opportunities”: How to Overcome

Objections in a Job Interview

Chapter 12 “Closing the Sale: The Power of Negotiating to Win”: Negotiating to Win for Your Job Offer

Chapter 13 “Follow-Up: The Power of Providing Service That Sells”: What Happens after You Accept the


Chapter 14 “The Power of Learning the Ropes”: It’s Your Career: Own It

Chapter 15 “Entrepreneurial Selling: The Power of Running Your Own Business”: Inspiration, Resources,

and Assistance for Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Getting Started

Some people know exactly what they want to do in life. Madonna, Venus and Serena Williams, Steve Jobs,

and countless others have been preparing for their chosen careers since they were young. Dylan Lauren,

daughter of designer Ralph Lauren and chief executive of Dylan’s Candy Bar, could see her path even

when she was young. With a father who was a fashion designer and her mother a photographer, she said,

“I always knew I wanted to be a leader and do something creative as a career.” [1] Katy Thorbahn, senior

vice president and general manager at Razorfish, one of the largest interactive marketing and advertising

agencies in the world, always knew she wanted to be in advertising. Her father was in advertising, her

uncle was in advertising, and she had an internship at an advertising agency, so it was no surprise that she

pursued a career in advertising. You probably know some people like this. They know exactly the direction

they want to take and how they want to get there.

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It’s not that way for everyone, however. In fact, most people don’t really know what they want to do for a

career or even what types of jobs are available. Whether you are currently working at a job or you are just

beginning to determine your career direction, it’s never too early or too late to learn about what career

might be a good fit for you. It’s a good idea to use the three steps outlined below to help you begin your

career search. These steps can be most effective if you complete them even before you put together your

résumé (you’ll get the tools to create your résumé and cover letter in Selling U inChapter 2 “The Power to

Choose Your Path: Careers in Sales”).

Step 1: Explore the Possibilities

Whether you know your direction or are trying to figure out what you want to do “when you grow up,”

there are some excellent tools available to you. The best place to start is at your campus career center. (If

your school does not have a career center, visit the library.) The people who work there are trained

professionals with working knowledge of the challenges to overcome, as well as the resources needed to

conduct a career search. People find that visiting the career center in person to meet the staff is a great

way to learn firsthand about what is available. Also, most campus career centers have a Web site that

includes valuable information and job postings.

At this stage in your career search, you might consider taking acareer assessment survey, skills inventory,

and/or aptitude test. If you’re unsure about your direction, these tools can help you discover exactly what

you like (and don’t like) to do and which industries and positions might be best for you. In addition, there

are many resources that provide information about industries, position descriptions, required training

and education, job prospects, and more. These are especially helpful in learning about position

descriptions and job opportunities within a specific industry.

Here are some resources that you may find to be a good place to begin a search. Most of the Web sites

listed provide surveys exercises and information at no charge.

Table 1.1 Resources for Your Job Search
Resource Description

Career One Stop

Information, job profiles, skills assessment,

and more information available at no

charge. The Skill Center is especially helpful.

The site also includes salary and benefits

information as well as other job search

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Resource Description


Job Hunter’s Bible

Links to job assessment tests, personality

tests, and more. This is the companion Web

site to the popular best seller What Color Is

Your Parachute?

Queendom, the land of tests

Free tests for leadership, aptitudes,

personality traits, and more.

Riley Guide

A robust Web site with free information and

links to help with your career search. The

assessment section and career and

occupational guides are especially helpful.

(Some charges may apply on some linked


Self-administered career assessment tests,

personality tests, and more; charges apply.

Articles and exercises to help you determine

your strengths, passions, and direction

available at no charge.

United States Department of Labor Career Voyages

Free information about industries, jobs, and

more, including in-demand jobs.

United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook


Free detailed information about occupations

by industry, training and education needed,

earnings, expected job prospects, what

workers do on the job, and more.

Step 2: Create Your Personal Mission Statement

You might be thinking that you just want to get a simple job; you don’t need an

elaborate personal mission statement. Although you may not be asked about your personal mission

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statement during an interview, it is nonetheless important, because it provides you with a concrete sense

of direction and purpose, summarized in relatable words. Great brands have clear, concise mission

statements to help the company chart its path. For example, Google’s mission statement is “To organize

the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” [2] The mission statement for

Starbucks is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a

time.” [3]

It’s worth your time to write a personal mission statement. You might be surprised to discover that people

who have a personal mission statement find it easier to get an enjoyable job. This is precisely because a

personal mission statement helps provide framework for what’s important to you and what you want to do

and accomplish.

A mission statement is a concise statement about what you want to achieve—the more direct, the better. It

should be short (so don’t worry about wordsmithing) and easy to recall (you should always know what

your mission statement is and how to measure your activities against it). A mission statement should be

broad in nature. In other words, it doesn’t specifically state a job you want. Instead, it describes who you

are, what you stand for, what you want to do, and the direction you want to take. [4]

Learn more about how to write your personal mission statement.

Quintessential Careers

Nightingale Conant

Time Thoughts

Once you write your mission statement, you should put it somewhere where you can see it daily—perhaps

on your computer wallpaper, on your desk, or on the back of your business card. It should remind you

every day of your personal goals. [5]

Step 3: Define Your Personal Brand

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Choosing a career direction and writing a personal mission statement are not things that can be done in

one day. They require research, evaluation, consideration, and a lot of soul searching. The same is true for

defining your personal brand.

You’ve learned about the power of a brand in the selling process and that a brand can be a product,

service, concept, cause, or even a person. Truly, the most important product, brand, or idea you will ever

sell is yourself. [6] You’re not just a person, you’re a brand. When you begin your job search, you will need

to sell yourself to prospective employers. When you sell yourself effectively, you will be able to sell your

ideas, your value, your experience, and your skills to get the job you want.

It’s easy to talk about brands. It’s harder to define one, especially when the brand is you. Many people feel

uncomfortable talking about themselves. Others feel as if they are bragging if they are forced to put

themselves in a positive light. The fact of the matter is, to be successful and stand apart from the

competition, you have to know yourself and carefully craft your brand story. [7]For the purposes of finding

a career, it is important to carefully consider what you believe defines you—what makes you unique,

consistent, and relevant—and how to tell your brand story to create an emotional connection with

prospective employers.

Here’s a strategy to help you think about defining your personal brand. If you were on a job interview and

the interviewer asked you, “Tell me three things about yourself that make you unique and would bring

value to my company,” what would you say? Would you be able to quickly identify three points that define

you and then demonstrate what you mean?

Many students might answer this question by saying, “I’m hardworking, I’m determined, and I’m good

with people.” Although those are good characteristics, they are too generic and don’t really define you as a

brand. The best way to tell your brand story is to use the characteristics of a brand covered earlier in this

chapter—unique, consistent, and relevant and creating an emotional connection with its customers.

If you identify three “brand points” you can tell a much more powerful brand story. Brand points are like

platforms that you can use to demonstrate your skills and experience. Here are some examples of

powerful brand points:

• Leadership skills. This provides a platform to describe your roles in leadership positions at school,

work, professional, or volunteer or community service organizations.

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• Academic achievement. This provides a platform to highlight your scholarships, awards, honors

(e.g., dean’s list), and more. A prospective employer wants to hire the best and the brightest (if

academic achievement isn’t your strong suit, don’t use this as one of your brand points).

• Sales (or other) experience. This provides a platform to underscore your contributions and

accomplishments in your current and past positions. Past achievements are the best predictor of

future success for a prospective employer so you can focus on results that you have delivered.

You can you see how specific brand points can make a big difference in how you might answer the

question above; they help define your brand as being unique (no one else has this combination of

education, skills, and experience), consistent (each one demonstrates that you are constantly striving to

achieve more), and relevant (prospective employers want people who have these characteristics). Finally,

the ability to communicate your brand story in a cover letter, a résumé, and an interview will help you

establish an emotional connection with your prospective employer because he or she will be able to

identify with components of your personality.

You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
You Have More to Offer Than You Think

If you’re putting off thinking about your career because you don’t have any experience and you don’t know

what you want to do, don’t worry. Take a deep breath, and focus on how to define your personal brand.

You have more to offer than you think.

• Have you worked in a restaurant, hotel, retail store, bank, camp, or other customer service

environment? You have multitasking skills, customer service skills, and the ability to work under

pressure and deliver results.

• Have you worked for a landscaping company, technology company, or other service provider? You

have experience interacting with clients to understand their needs. (Also, don’t forget to mention the

fact that you increased the company’s sales if you made any sales).

• Have you worked as a cashier in a bank or in an accounting department? You have had the

responsibility of handling money and accurately accounting for it.

• Have you earned money on your own with a small business such as babysitting or lawn care? You

have entrepreneurial experience. Include how you landed your clients, advertised for new ones, and

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managed your costs and time. Every company wants people who can demonstrate drive and


Creating your brand points can effectively make the difference between being an ordinary applicant and

being the person who lands the job. Indeed, your brand points are the skeletal framework for the way you

sell yourself to get the job you want. You’ll learn how to use your brand points as the core of your résumé,

cover letter, and interviews in Chapter 2 “The Power to Choose Your Path: Careers in Sales” and Chapter

10 “The Presentation: The Power of Solving Problems”.

For now, just take the time to really think about what are the three brand points that define you. Your

education, skills, and experience will probably be different from the example, but your brand points can

be just as powerful. Use the box below as a starting point to identify your three brand points.

Suggestions for Brand Points
These are thought starters. You should define your brand based on what you have to offer.

• Sales experience (or experience in marketing, retail, finance, etc.)

• Project management experience

• Leadership experience

• Management experience

• Negotiating experience

• Work ethic and commitment (e.g., working while going to school)

• Entrepreneurial experience (e.g., eBay or other small business experience)

• Customer service experience (e.g., working in a restaurant, retail store, bank)

• Academic achievement

• Subject matter expert (e.g., author of a blog)

• International study

• Community service

• Selling U is the final section in each chapter that provides information, resources, and guidance about

how to sell yourself to get the job you want.

• Getting started for your job search includes three steps:

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1. Explore the possibilities. Learn about yourself through career assessment surveys, skills inventory

questionnaires, and personality tests. Investigate industries in which you may want to work by

using the resources provided. Don’t forget to visit your campus career center.

2. Write a personal mission statement. State your purpose briefly and concisely. It will help you plot

your course.

3. Define your personal brand. Identify three brand points that define your personal brand and

become platforms on which to showcase your skills and experience. These three brand points will

be the basis of your résumé, cover letter, and interviews.


1. Visit at least two of the Web sites listed in Table 1.1 “Resources for Your Job Search” for a career

assessment, skills inventory, or personality test. Complete at least one of the free tests or surveys. Discuss

one thing you learned (or the test confirmed) about yourself.

2. Write your personal mission statement. Discuss what you learned about yourself by creating it.

3. Discuss how the characteristics of a brand can relate to a person (e.g., unique, consistent, and relevant

and has an emotional connection with its customers).

4. [1] Patricia R. Olsen, “Sweets Tester in Chief,” New York Times, June 7, 2009, business section, 9.

5. [2] Google, “Corporate Information, Company

Overview,” (accessed June 6, 2009).

6. [3] Starbucks, “Our Starbucks Mission,” June 6,


7. [4] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 18.

8. [5] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 20.

9. [6] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 1.

10. [7] Peggy Klaus, Brag: How to Toot Your Own Horn without Blowing It (New York: Warner Books, Inc.,

2003), 3.

1.4 Review and Practice
Power Wrap-Up

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Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand the role of selling in everyday life,

in the economy, and in companies.

• You can identify examples of selling in your everyday life.

• You can describe the characteristics of a brand.

• You can compare and contrast the difference between sales and marketing.

• You can understand how to define your personal brand.
T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

1. Name three situations in your life in which you use selling.

2. Name the four key characteristics of a brand.

3. Describe what this sentence means: “Each salesperson supports an average of 12.9 other jobs within the


4. Is sales considered a line or a support function? Why?

5. What is the impact of Sales 2.0 on the selling function?

6. Which of the four characteristics of a brand is most important when you are selling your personal brand?

7. What is a customer-centric organization?
P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. The following are two roles that are involved in the

same selling situation—one role is the customer, and the other is the salesperson. This will give you the

opportunity to think about this selling situation from the point of view of both the customer and the


Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-

play in groups or individually.

College Admissions: Who Is Selling Whom?

Role: College admissions director

You are the director of admissions at your school. You want to choose only the best candidates for

admission for next year’s class. The focus of the school is to attract and accept students that demonstrate

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diversity, academic achievement, life experience, community service, passion for learning, and potential to


You personally meet with each one of the final candidates to determine how they will fit into the culture

of the school and help the school meet its objectives. It’s something you enjoy doing because it’s a chance

to put a name with a face and see exactly what makes each student special. You and the other

management at the school consider it to be a customer-centric organization.

You are about to meet with a prospective student. You are under some pressure to increase enrollment

(after all, the admissions department is really like the sales department in a lot of organizations). You are

not sure he’s a perfect fit for the school, but you are one of the school’s customer contact points so you

want to make him feel at ease while you are learning more about him.

• How will you greet this prospective student to make him feel welcome?

• What questions will you ask to learn about his personal brand and determine if he will be a good fit for

the school?

• If he is not exactly the right fit for the school, will you admit him anyway because you want to increase

admissions? Why or why not?

Role: Prospective student

You are a prospective student at your school. Your grades are good (not outstanding), but you have been

involved in the drama club and Spanish club in high school. You don’t know what you want to do in life,

but you know you want to go to college and get a good job. You are nervous about your interview with the

director of admissions because it’s your first interview and you don’t really know what to expect.

• How will you “sell” yourself to the director of admissions?

• How will you make an emotional connection with the director of admissions?

• What are your three brand positioning points, and how will you use them in this situation?
P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

1. Visit your campus career center in person. (If you don’t have a campus career center, visit your library and

meet with a librarian.) Meet with one of the staff members to learn about activities, resources, and

people that are available to help you with your career search. Learn about the campus career Web site

and how to view job postings. Sign up for one of the upcoming workshops on career searching.

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2. Write your personal mission statement. Meet with a professor or advisor to review it and get feedback.

3. Identify your three brand points. Write them down and determine at least two examples of experience

that demonstrates each point. (Hint: This will become the basis for your résumé and cover letter in

the Selling U section in Chapter.)


1. Getting into the school of your choice, convincing your parents of something, getting the job you want (as

well as other situations you may name).

2. The four characteristics of a brand are the fact that it is unique, consistent, and relevant and has an

emotional connection with its customers.

3. “Each salesperson supports an average of 12.9 other jobs within the company” means that the level of

sales that is generated by each salesperson is enough to fund the salaries and benefits of almost thirteen

people in the organization in departments such as human resources, marketing, operations, finance, and

others. Without the sales, the company would not be able to pay for the other jobs.

4. Sales is considered a line function because salespeople are part of the daily operations of the company.

5. Sales 2.0 is a term that applies to the ever-changing world of technology, communication, and

relationships in selling. The evolution of the Internet has led to a change in the balance of power in the

selling process. Now, customers may have more information than a salesperson due to the research they

are able to do on Web sites, through communities, and user-generated content. (In other words, both

good and bad news travel fast.) Salespeople have to focus on collaboration inside their companies and

with their customers to deliver the best solution to meet their customers’ needs.

6. All of the characteristics are important when you are selling your personal brand. It’s important to define

your brand by developing the three most important brand points that best describe you.

7. The organizational chart in a customer-centric organization has the customer at the center so that all

functions focus on meeting the needs of the customer rather than working in silos.

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Chapter 2
The Power to Choose Your Path: Careers in Sales

2.1 What Does It Take to Be in Sales?


1. Discuss the characteristics required to be successful in a career in sales.

2. Understand what you can expect from a career in sales.

When Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, delivered the commencement address at Stanford University in

2005, he told the story of how he and Steve Wozniak started the now $32 billion company in a

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garage in 1976. Jobs said, “I was lucky—I found out what I wanted to do early in life.” [1] But life at

Apple wasn’t always so perfect. When he was thirty, just one year after the launch of the Macintosh,

he was fired from the company he founded. Although he was publicly humiliated and frustrated and

didn’t know what to do next, he realized that he indeed loved what he did. From there he went on to

start Pixar, the company that created Toy Story, the world’s first full-length computer-animated

feature film.

He left the Stanford graduates with some personal words of wisdom to think about as they prepared

themselves for their careers: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to

be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love

what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart,

you’ll know when you find it.” [2]

To be successful in sales, and in life, you must love what you do. If you aren’t passionate about your

profession, you will never be the best. You will always fall short because the people who love it will

naturally excel. It seems simple enough: do what you love. But what if you love many things or don’t

know if you’ve found your niche? Don’t worry—there are questions you can ask yourself to help you

determine whether a career in sales will excite you and make you want to leap out of bed every


Are You Born to Sell?

How do you know if sales is your passion, the career of your dreams? The first step is taking this course.

You’ll have an opportunity to learn about sales and actually put your knowledge to work in real-life

situations by role-playing with your classmates. After reading this chapter, you will better understand the

profession of selling and what it has to offer. This chapter includes insights about which personal

characteristics and talents are best suited to sales, which industries you might work in, and how you can

be successful in the profession.

Just like being a teacher requires traits such as a love of learning, an ability to communicate, and the

talent to make concepts come alive for people, selling calls for certain personal characteristics as well.

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Some people think that successful salespeople are those who have the “gift of gab,” but that’s not really

what makes salespeople effective. Although communication and relationship building are valuable skills,

just being able to talk to people is not enough to be successful in sales. Consider the following points that

make a salesperson successful and see if these are a good match to you and your skills.

Character and the Ability to Build Trust

It never goes without saying that character—the combination of your beliefs, tendencies, and actions that

you take—is the single defining trait for a salesperson (or any business person, for that matter). [3] Your

character defines how you will conduct yourself, and it is the yardstick by which customers measure you.

After all, your customers are spending their money based on what you say you will deliver; they have to

trust you. If you ever break the trust for any reason, you will likely lose not only the sale, but you will most

likely lose your reputation, and, ultimately, your livelihood. According to a survey by Forrester Research,

trust and believability are so important in the buying and selling processes that 71 percent of buyers based

their decisions on these traits. [4]

The Ability to Connect

The most successful salespeople know how to engage their customers in a way that helps the customers

identify for themselves the way the product or service offered can deliver value. The Xerox Company, after

conducting a survey to identify the characteristics of their peak-performing salespeople, says it best: “Your

prospect will never buy because you present a pitch. She instead buys from what she convinces herself of.

This means that if you are selling a watch, telling your prospect you will cure his ignorance of time will not

be enough. Your prospect will literally talk to himself to discover that this watch will indeed keep him

from running late. He will not listen to you; he will only listen to himself.” [5]

A good salesperson will use his personal skills to connect with a customer, so that their conversation

prompts and echoes the customer’s own internal thought process. It is ultimately this ability to connect

that allows the salesperson to build relationships and trust.

Listening Skills

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Contrary to popular belief, speaking is not the most important aspect of selling—listening is, because

“salespeople are communicators, not manipulators.” [6]It’s interesting to note that many of the salespeople

who are constantly talking are actually not successful. It is those salespeople who have a genuine interest

in listening who learn precisely what the customers’ needs, priorities, and opportunities are. Listening

skills are the fundamental basis for forming a connection. “Listening builds relationships,” according to

Marjorie Brody, author of Help! Was That a Career-Limiting Move? She suggests a “silent solution” to

many problems in the form of listening. [7] The challenge for many people is that listening with undivided

attention is hard to do. According to Barry J. Elms, CEO of Strategic Negotiations International,

psychologists say that we listen using only 25 percent of our brain. [8] That means that the other 75 percent

is thinking about a response or thinking about something else. Salespeople who take notes, refer to

written material, and are intently aware of their nonverbal cues can be extremely successful because they

see and hear things that people who are talking just can’t absorb. [9] See why Andy Taylor, CEO of

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, thinks great listening skills make a great salesperson.
Andy Taylor, CEO of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, on Listening Skills

The Ability to Ask the Right Questions

It was Einstein who said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the

first fifty-five minutes to formulate the right question because as soon as I had identified the right

question, I knew I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” [10] This demonstrates the power of

asking the right questions. Those questions can only be asked when you listen and have the ability to

connect. Paul Blake, whom you met at the beginning of this chapter, believes that asking the right

questions is vital to the success of his sales force. That’s why he leads by example and always asks one key

question when he is interviewing candidates for sales positions: “Do you believe you have the right to

change someone’s opinion?” That single question tells him all he needs to know about the candidate and

how she would perform on his sales team. [11]

The Willingness to Learn

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You might think that just because you are in school, you are learning everything you need to know for

your career. Although you are building a strong foundation, you will continue to learn new things every

day when you are working. Salespeople must not only have product knowledge and understand the buying

and selling process; they must also learn skills that will make them more effective and efficient as

salespeople. For example, in one study on salespeople, executives mentioned that salespeople must be

willing to learn more than what appears to be required. Financial skills, negotiating skills, and even

speed-reading courses were mentioned as additional training needs.[12] It’s important to note that besides

constantly learning new skills, salespeople have to be students of the business. Skills and abilities are

developed and fine-tuned over time, and experience plays a role in the learning process. So it stands to

reason that salespeople are not “made” simply because they have the title. Just as it takes seven years to

become a doctor, three years to become a lawyer, and a thousand hours to become a barber, a great

salesperson develops over time. [13] If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in sales, keep in mind that

like other professions it takes time, training, and experience to be successful.

The Drive to Succeed

You can’t be successful if you don’t set goals. Great salespeople set goals for themselves, achieve them, and

celebrate those achievements. They visualize what they want, then put together a plan to get it. [14] The

drive to succeed is important not only in sales, but also in life. Consider Olympic swimmer Michael

Phelps. He set out to do something that no one else had ever done: win eight Olympic gold medals. It’s

instructive to look at his drive to succeed and what he did to prepare for and achieve his goals. While

Phelps has had some recent public relations (PR) challenges about his behavior out of the pool, it doesn’t

diminish his hard work, drive to succeed, and accomplishments.

Which Generation Is Best at Selling?
There are now three generations in the work force: baby boomers (born 1946–1964); Gen X (1965–1980);

and Gen Y, also known as millennials (born after 1980). According to a recent survey by the consulting

firm Generational DNA, 42 percent of Gen X sales reps exceeded their sales goals while 37 percent of Gen

Y and only 32 percent of baby boomers exceeded their goals. But everything is relative as the survey also

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revealed that boomers are more likely to have more ambitious goals, which is a reflection of their

experience level. [15]

Resilience and a Positive Attitude

It’s important to remember that you will hear “no” more frequently than you hear “Yes, I’ll take it.” That

challenge, however, is offset by the thrill of victory when the sale is made and a relationship with the

customer based on trust is built. You can only succeed when you go the extra mile, by investigating one

more lead, going back for the second sales call even when the first hasn’t been successful, and trial closing

even if you are not sure you can really get the sale.[16] It’s the eternal optimism that pushes you, even when

others might think there is no reason to pursue the sale. If you think you can make it happen, you should

definitely be in sales.

The Willingness to Take Risks

Has anyone ever told you, “You won’t know until you try”? That statement is especially true in sales. You

can set yourself apart by taking smart business risks. Think about how you consider taking risks in

everyday life and how they pay off. For example, let’s say you are from a small town and you chose to go to

a college in a big city because you wanted to experience something new. That was a risk; it took you

outside your comfort zone. But if you hadn’t taken the risk, you would have never known what life in a big

city was like. Great salespeople go beyond the norm to explore and test the waters. For example, making

phone calls to senior executives that you have never met, networking with people you don’t know, or

making a presentation to a room full of customers all involve some level of risk. But getting out of your

comfort zone and taking risks is how great opportunities are found. [17]

Taking risks in life and in selling is best summed up by Lisa McCullough, a high-profile stuntwoman:

“Don’t focus on your fears, focus on what you want.” [18]

The Secret to Success: Failure
“No risk, no reward” is a familiar saying. But best-selling author Jeffrey Gitomer says, “No risk, no

nothing.” He believes the only way to succeed is to take risks and sometimes fail. It’s the failures that can

lead to success.[19] He talks about the importance of taking risks and failing in this video.

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Why Taking Risks Is Important to Success

Find out why salespeople need to take risks.

Source: Buy Gitomer, Inc.

The Ability to Ask for an Order

It may sound intuitive that successful salespeople shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a customer’s order, but

you would be surprised at how often it happens. Most customers want you to ask for their order. “Would

you like fries with your hamburger?” “What can I get you for dessert?” and “Would you like to pay with

credit or debit?” are all examples of salespeople asking for the order.

A large percentage of the time these salespeople are successful and meet their customers’ needs at the

same time. You reduce your chances of being successful if you don’t ask for the order. [20] In other words,

if you don’t ask for the order, someone else will. See why Fred Franzia, founder of Bronco Wine Company

and creator of “Two Buck Chuck” wine, thinks that asking for the order makes a great salesperson.
Fred Franzia, Founder of Bronco Wine Company, on Asking for the Order

Independence and Discipline

Most sales positions require independence, self-motivation, and discipline. Although these traits may

seem contradictory, they are actually complementary. Independence is especially important if you are

calling on customers in person. It usually requires travel, either locally by car or by plane, which means

that you have to be able to manage your time without being told what to do. In fact, it means that you set

your schedule and do what you need to do to meet your sales goals. But having this kind of independence

requires discipline. As Michael Janusz, an account manager at ACL Laboratories put it, “I went into sales

because of the dynamic environment, competitive aspect, and income potential. I do think there is a

shortage of good salespeople. I think this is because it takes a unique blend of skills and a disciplined

person. There are many people who can talk well, manage a territory well, or work hard. However, not

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many can put it all together.” [21]Besides having an independent streak, salespeople must be focused and

hardworking in the long term, or they will not enjoy consistent success over time.


Along with the need for independence comes the importance of flexibility. Just as you are able to set your

own schedule, you have to be flexible based on your customers’ needs. Most sales positions are not nine-

to-five jobs. That means you might be working nights or weekends, or you might be traveling out of town

during the week or even long periods of time, especially if you are selling internationally. You have to be

available when your customers want to buy. Before you cringe at the prospect of grueling hours and long

flights, remember that this kind of schedule may also work to your advantage. You may have some

weekdays off, which allow you to enjoy family, sports, or other outings that you might not otherwise have

an opportunity to enjoy.


If you’re not passionate about what you’re selling, how do you expect your customers to believe in you and

your product? You have to love what you do, believe in it, and feel passionately about it. Passion

encompasses all the traits mentioned above; it’s how they all come together. Passion is the element that

sets you apart from other salespeople and makes your prospects and customers believe in you and your

product or service. See why Selena Cuff, head of Heritage Link Brands, thinks passion is what makes a

great salesperson.
Selena Cuff, Heritage Link Brands on Passion

Bringing It All Together

If this seems like a lot of traits, think about the list of traits that might be required to be a doctor, lawyer,

or college professor. Every profession requires a lot of those who pursue it. To make it easier, you may

want to think about how these traits come together. Mahan Khalsa, founder of Franklin Covey Sales

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Performance Group and author of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: The Demise of Dysfunctional Selling

and the Advent of Helping Clients Succeed, sums up the traits of a successful salesperson this way: “There

are three traits that define a successful salesperson: business intelligence (IQ or intelligence quotient), the

ability to create rapport and build trust (EQ or emotional intelligence), and a good way to approach and to

follow up sales (XQ or executional intelligence; the ability to execute the sale).” [22]

Want to know what employers look for when hiring a salesperson?

Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
It’s All about Their Stuff

Mark Bozzini, CEO of Infinite Spirits, learned a powerful selling lesson early in his career. His job was to

sell more bottles of wine than were sold the previous year, which seemed easy enough. But when he called

on a wine and spirits retailer, the storeowner told him that his products didn’t sell and he would rather

not have them on his shelves. So much for selling more bottles of wine. An average salesperson might

become pushy, or even leave and seek a sale elsewhere. But Bozzini, an intuitive and passionate salesman,

was determined to make the sale. He spent an hour rearranging the store display and asked the

storeowner to give it a chance to see if the product sold better. The new display worked, and the

storeowner became one of Bozzini’s best customers. The moral of the story: always remember that “the

customer doesn’t care about your stuff. They care about their stuff.”[23]

Creating Value Is the Name of the Game

The role of a salesperson can be summed up in one sentence: “Salespeople are value creators.” [24] To

further describe what this means, think about a recent visit to the Apple Store. If you go to the store at

virtually any hour, it is filled with customers. The salespeople are not just those that are pushing a

product, hoping that you buy so that they make their sales quota. They are experts who know everything

about the products in the store whether they be MacBooks, iPods, or iPhones. The salespeople engage you

in dialogue, listen, and learn about what you are looking for. They ask questions like, “What do you do

with the photos you take? Do you like to make videos? Do you want to easily access the Web from your

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phone?” No techno-talk, no slick sales pitches. They just want to know what’s important to you so that

they can let you try the product that not only fits your basic computing needs, but blows you away.

Apple and its sales team know that computers are complicated and can baffle even savvy users. To build

trust and confidence with their customers, they developed the “Genius Bar” so that Apple users know that

they can always to talk to an individual and find help with any problem or question they may have. In fact,

Apple dedicates a section of their Web site to the Genius Bar and invites customers to make an

appointment online to come to a store to talk to one of the “resident Geniuses.” Talk about creating value.

As a result, Apple is able to charge a premium for its product and generate such demand that in some

cases people are lined up to buy their products, as was the case for the launch of the iPhone 3GS in June

2009. [25]


While a job in sales can be demanding, it can also be very rewarding in many ways. Even in these days of

iPods and Pandora, WII-FM (What’s In It For Me) is a radio station that everyone listens to. It’s not a

bad thing to think about what’s in it for you. After all, if you are considering investing your career in the

selling profession, you should know what’s in it for you.

What Will You Be Doing?

The life of a salesperson is never dull. You could be working with a single customer or with multiple

customers. You might work in a corporate office, or you might work from your home. You might talk to

customers via phone, live chat, instant message, and text, or you might meet with them in their office in

your neighborhood, your region, or anywhere around the world. You might be working on research to

identify new customers, preparing a presentation for a new or existing customer, meeting with customers

face-to-face, following up to get contracts signed, or communicating inside your organization to be sure all

goes well to deliver the product or service to the customer on time and on budget. On any given day you

might be working on any number of activities to support an existing customer or to approach, present, or

close a new customer.

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What Can You Achieve?

A job in selling can be a gateway to wherever you want to go. Stanley Marcus, the ninety-three-year-old

chairman emeritus of Neiman Marcus, started as a messenger boy, then as a junior salesperson in his

father’s store before working his way to the top. Michael Dell started by selling computers from his dorm

room. [26] Selling could eventually give you fame and fortune, but more immediately it can also give you

the satisfaction of providing solutions to people, financial opportunity, and even financial independence.

Even in today’s challenging economy, these goals are possible.

Sales drive every company’s growth. When you are in sales, you are responsible for the future of the

company. That’s why many sales positions offer unlimited income potential. Sales is considered a pay-for-

performance profession. [27]That means that you are paid based on your performance, which in this case is

sales. Your income is commensurate with the amount of sales you generate; simply put, you can make as

much money as you want. This is a major difference between sales and most other disciplines. In most

sales positions, you earn a salary and perhaps some other elements of compensation, such as a bonus. In

sales, you can determine your income because it is usually not limited to a specific number; it is based on

the amount you sell. Although this topic is covered in detail in Chapter 14 “The Power of Learning the

Ropes”, it’s worth noting here that you have the power to determine how much you want to earn when you

have a successful career in sales.

If you want to check out base salaries for sales positions in your area or the area in which you would like

to work, go to and use the Salary Wizard. You’ll be able to see the average salary, bonuses,

benefits, and more.

Salary Information

This is a resource to research salary and other compensation elements for different positions in areas

across the country.

• To be successful in sales and in life, you have to enjoy what you do for a living.

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• A good salesperson does more than sell; he builds a relationship and trust with the customer and offers


• A successful salesperson is a good listener. It’s important to listen and understand the challenges that the

customer is facing in order to present solutions that will work.

• Asking the right questions is critical to being successful in sales. It is the right questions that provide an

opportunity for customers to share their challenges. Successful salespeople are always learning new

things from selling techniques to technology in order to bring the best ideas to customers.

• Selling requires independence and discipline. There is no typical day in selling so salespeople have to be

able to manage their own time.

• One of the biggest challenges of being in sales is the number of times you hear “no.” Successful

salespeople are resilient, have a positive attitude, and are willing to take risks.

• Passion is one of the most important characteristics of a successful salesperson. If a salesperson isn’t

passionate about what he sells, it’s unlikely that his customers will be motivated to buy.

• The primary role of a salesperson is to create value for the customer and the company.

• A job in sales can be very rewarding on both a personal and a financial level, and it can lead to just about

any career path you choose.


1. Think about someone you trust such as a parent, professor, friend, classmate, or colleague. Describe why

you trust him or her. Now, think about that person again. Would she say that she trusts you? How would

she describe why she trusts you?

2. Ask a classmate to describe his background and then describe yours for five minutes each. Write a

summary of his background based on what he or she said and ask your classmate to do the same. How

accurate was each of your summaries? How many details did each include in the summaries? What did

you learn about listening skills?

3. Discuss the sentence, “Salespeople are communicators, not manipulators.” What does it mean? Why is it

important to know the difference in sales?

4. Describe at least three characteristics of a good salesperson. Do you have any or all of these

characteristics? What is appealing to you about a profession in selling? What is not appealing to you

about a profession in selling?

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5. Invite a salesperson to visit your class (in person or via Skype) to discuss his career in sales, what he thinks

is most rewarding, and what he finds most challenging.

6. [1] Steve Jobs, “You’ve Got to Find What You Love,” commencement address at Stanford University, Palo

Alto, CA, June 12, 2005, in Stanford Report, June 14,

2005, (accessed June 16, 2009).

7. [2] Steve Jobs, “You’ve Got to Find What You Love,” commencement address at Stanford University, Palo

Alto, CA, June 12, 2005, in Stanford Report, June 14,

2005, (accessed June 16, 2009).

8. [3] Dave Kahle, “The Four Characteristics of Successful Salespeople,” Industrial Distribution 97, no. 4 (April

2008): 54.

9. [4] Robert W. Bly, “Everyone Loves a Story,” Target Marketing 32, no. 6 (June 2009): 23.

10. [5] Kerry Johnson, “Five Characteristics of Peak Sales Performers,” Event Solution

International, (accessed June 16, 2009).

11. [6] Monroe Porter, “Six Common Characteristics of Successful Salespeople,” Pro 20, no. 6 (May 2008): 33.

12. [7] Pamela J. Holland and Marjorie Brody, Help! Was That a Career-Limiting Move?(Jenkintown, PA:

Career Skills Press, 2005).

13. [8] Steve Atlas, “Listening for Buying Signals: Missing Your Prospects’ Buying Signals,”Selling Power 20, no.

2, March 16, 2010).

14. [9] Steve Atlas, “Listening for Buying Signals: Missing Your Prospects’ Buying Signals,”Selling Power20, no.

2, March 16, 2010).

15. [10] Kim Michael, “The Most Powerful Tool in the Sales Arsenal—Part 1,” American Salesman 54, no. 6

(June 2009): 3.

16. [11] Paul Blake, interview with the author, Greater Media Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, December 11,


17. [12] John F. Tanner, Jr., Christophe Fournier, Jorge A. Wise, Sandrine Hollet, and Juliet Poujol, “Executives’

Perspectives of the Changing Role of the Sales Profession: View from France, the United States, and

Mexico,” Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 23, no. 3 (2008): 193.

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18. [13] Margaret Norton, “Is the Successful Salesperson Made or Born?”


Born?&id=1020044 (accessed June 16, 2009).

19. [14] Kelley Robertson, “10 Characteristics of Successful Salespeople,” Business Know-

How, June 16,


20. [15] Geoffrey James, “Which Generation Is Best at Selling?” BNET, July 29,

2009, (accessed July 27, 2009).

21. [16] Dave Kahle, “The Four Characteristics of Successful Salespeople,” Industrial Distribution 97, no. 4

(April 2008): 54.

22. [17] Dave Kahle, “Characteristics of a Successful Professional—A Propensity to Take Risks,” Agency

Sales 36, no. 6 (June 2006): 40.

23. [18] Lisa McCullough, “Lessons from a Stunt Woman,” video, Selling

Power, (accessed March 16, 2010).

24. [19] Jeffrey Gitomer, “No Risk No Reward,” video, May 17,

2008, (accessed August 28, 2009).

25. [20] Monroe Porter, “Six Common Characteristics of Successful Salespeople,” Pro 20, no. 6 (May 2008):


26. [21] “What Do Salespeople Want?” BizTimes, March 30,

2007, (accessed June 19, 2009).

27. [22] Mike McCue, “Lessons from the Master,” Sales and Marketing Management, March 1, 2008, 22–24.

28. [23] Anna Muoio, “Sales School,” Fast Company, December 18,

2007, (accessed June 23, 2009).

29. [24] John F. Tanner, Jr., Christophe Fournier, Jorge A. Wise, Sandrine Hollet, and Juliet Poujol, “Executives’

Perspectives of the Changing Role of the Sales Profession: View from France, the United States, and

Mexico,” Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 23, no. 3 (2008): 193.

30. [25] Brandon Griggs, “iPhone 3GS Launch Has App Developers Seeing Gold,”, June 19,

2009, (accessed June 26, 2009).

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31. [26] Anna Muoio, “Sales School,” Fast Company, December 18,

2007, (accessed June 23, 2009).

32. [27] Michael Levens, Marketing: Defined, Explained, Applied (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice

Hall, 2010), 186.

2.2 Sales Channels and Environments: Where You Can Put
Your Selling Skills to Work


1. Understand the different types of selling channels and selling environments.

If you had an accident and broke your leg, you would go to an orthopedic surgeon to have a cast put

on it. However, if you had a skin rash you would go to a dermatologist to get relief and clear up the

rash. Several doctors may have a role in helping you manage your health, so it makes sense that not

all doctors conduct the same procedures. Some perform surgery and others diagnose, monitor, and

recommend tests or further steps. Just as doctors play different roles in the health care field, the

same is true for salespeople in the business arena. Different people perform different functions in the

selling process.

Is It B2B or B2C?

There are two major distribution channels, or organizations or group of organizations involved in the

process of making products and services available to customers in which personal selling is

conducted. [1] Personal selling involves communication between a customer and a salesperson with the

intention of providing information for the customer to make a buying decision. Business-to-business (also

referred to as B2B) is when businesses sell products or services to other businesses for consumption by

the ultimate consumer. For example, Whirlpool sells washers and dryers to Sears and makes them to the

specifications determined by Sears for the Kenmore name before they are sold in Sears and K-Mart stores.

Other examples of B2B selling include parts or ingredients, such as when Intel sells computer chips to

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Toshiba to manufacture laptop computers or when a fabric company sells cotton fabric to Gap to make

their T-shirts.

Many B2B companies, such as Intel, have branded their products so that these products are quickly

identified by consumers even though the products are only sold to businesses. These companies believe so

strongly in the power of branding (which you learned about in Chapter 1 “The Power to Get What You

Want in Life”) that they are willing to invest in building the awareness and perception of their brand name

despite the fact that you can’t go to a Web site or store and buy their product; you can only buy their

product because it is a part of another product.

On the other hand, the transactions in which you as a consumer participate arebusiness-to-

consumer (also called B2C), which means that a company is selling a product or service directly to you as

the ultimate consumer. In the example above, when Sears and K-Mart sell the Kenmore washers and

dryers to consumers, it is B2C personal selling. Other examples of B2C selling include a waiter taking your

order at a restaurant, a salesperson helping you find jeans in your size at American Eagle Outfitters, or a

real estate agent showing you a house.

Some companies engage in both B2B and B2C selling, such as Staples, FedEx, Microsoft, and Geek Squad,

since they serve business customers as well as the ultimate consumer. Many manufacturers such as Dove,

Coke, and Oscar Meyer don’t actually participate in B2C personal selling, but these brands use B2C

marketing to make consumers aware of their brands. Meanwhile, their B2B personal selling organizations

focus on selling these products to retailers such as Safeway, CVS, and Sam’s Club (i.e., their customers),

which in turn, sell their products in B2C channels to consumers like you.

There are some important differences between B2B and B2C selling. B2B selling engages with fewer

customers (which makes sense because there are fewer businesses than there are consumers). At the same

time, however, B2B selling involves much larger purchases. Companies purchase parts, ingredients, or

supplies to service many consumers, while consumers only purchase a product or service for their own

consumption or that of their family and friends. Since B2B purchases are larger in value than consumer

purchases, the selling process is usually longer. This is as a result of the size of the purchase, and in many

companies, there are multiple people involved in the purchasing decision, as you will learn about

in Chapter 6 “Why and How People Buy: The Power of Understanding the Customer”.

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Figure 2.5 Business-to-Business versus Business-to-Consumer Selling Characteristics

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Types of B2B and B2C Selling

When you go to McDonald’s and a salesperson asks you if you want fries with your order, there is not

much involved on the part of the salesperson. In fact, you may not have even considered the person who

took your order to be a salesperson. This is a selling situation that matches the needs of the buyer

efficiently with the operation, but it doesn’t require a personal relationship or detailed product

information to consummate the sale. [2] The product or service is of low dollar value and no additional

contact is required for the sale. This is called transactional selling, and it occurs in B2C situations like this

one, as well as B2B situations. [3]

On the other hand, consultative selling, also called relationship selling, takes place when there is a long-

term or ongoing relationship between the customer and the seller, and the salesperson takes on the task of

truly understanding the customers’ needs and providing solutions to meet those needs. In this type of

selling situation, adaptive selling takes place. This occurs when a salesperson changes selling behavior

during a customer call to improve the exchange or outcome. [4] Consultative selling takes place in both

B2B and B2C environments. For example, if you were working with a financial advisor to develop a

retirement plan, the advisor would be consulting you on the best ways to save and how to best invest your

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money. She would adapt to your needs based on your feedback. If you told her, “I don’t want to be in such

high-risk investments,” this would prompt her to adapt her selling behavior to better match your needs.

In some cases, the selling relationship goes beyond consultative selling and establishes a true method for

mutual benefit; this is called a strategic alliance. In this situation, sellers and buyers work together to

develop opportunities and points of difference that wouldn’t exist without the relationship. [5] This type of

relationship is usually found in B2B environments because a strategic alliance typically involves two

companies that have something to gain by each taking an appropriate risk.

For example, before introducing the iPhone, Apple contracted AT&T to be the exclusive service provider.

Each company had something to contribute to the relationship, and each one had something to gain. In

this case, AT&T pays Apple for each new customer it receives. Apple increases its revenues, and AT&T

gains new customers. Both companies had to invest in research and development to make the relationship

happen. Both companies “had skin in the game,” so both worked hard to ensure success through public

relations, advertising, personal selling, and follow-up customer service. As a result, the relationship has

been extremely successful for both parties, as a strategic alliance should be. [6] It’s important to note that

not all strategic alliances are exclusive deals like the iPhone with AT&T. Although the deal between the

two companies includes exclusivity until 2010, it’s not definite that exclusivity will expand beyond that.[7]

Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View
But Do the Customers Like It?

Satisfied customers are the true measure of success in selling. The University of Michigan publishes the

American Customer Satisfaction Index every quarter, which measures customer satisfaction in a number

of industries. It’s no surprise that in the fast food category, smaller chains led the pack in actual

satisfaction scores with Domino’s as the highest-rated larger chain restaurant in the May 2009 survey.

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell also got the thumbs-up from customers. [8]

Is It Inside or Outside Sales?

What is the difference between the salesperson with whom you live-chat on and the person

you talk to in the store? Although both are salespeople for Best Buy, the person with whom you conducted

live chat is considered an inside salesperson; the salesperson you spoke with in the store is considered an

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outside salesperson. Inside salespeople rarely, if ever, meet face-to-face with customers, whereas outside

salespeople communicate with customers in a variety of ways, including in-person meetings. [9]

For many B2B and B2C companies, the outside salespeople are generally the primary drivers of sales and

costs of sales, since the outside salespeople travel to meet in person with customers to learn more about

their needs, build relationships, and provide consultation and solutions. Inside salespeople usually

perform more tactical selling functions such as providing product information (as in the Best Buy example

above), following up on details, and keeping the customer informed of basic information.

Companies have traditionally used inside salespeople because they are part of a strategy that helps keep

selling costs low. Today, many companies are converting outside salespeople to inside salespeople to

further reduce selling costs. Advances in technology are blurring the lines between inside and outside

salespeople by providing platforms for inside salespeople to be more collaborative and consultative with

tools such as video conferences, Webinars, wikis, and more. Traditional thinking is changing, as

evidenced in a recent study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a sales consulting

firm, which found that currently 30 percent of revenues are influenced by inside salespeople. [10] As more

companies leverage technology and think differently about customer relationships, the concept of inside

and outside salespeople will evolve around the most mutually efficient and beneficial customer

relationships, rather than the physical location of the salespeople.

What Kind of Job Can I Get in Sales?

You have the power to choose your career. Do you want to travel across the country or around the world to

meet with customers and understand their needs and develop new business opportunities for your

company? Or would you rather be a technical specialist, or a subject matter expert, and talk to customers

about exactly how your product or service works? No matter what you want to do, chances are there’s a

sales role that you will enjoy. Table 2.1 “Types of B2B and B2C Sales Positions” shows a snapshot of

several different types of B2B and B2C sales positions that you might want to pursue and the industries in

which you might find them.

Table 2.1 Types of B2B and B2C Sales Positions

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Title Description Industries

Sales representative,

account executive, account

manager, marketing

representative, sales

consultant, sales associate

• Responsible for a group of

customers with primary

responsibility to develop and

maintain close relationships with

existing customers by

understanding their needs and

providing solutions

• Identifies and develops new


• Meets revenue and profit goals

• B2B: Technology, IT services

manufacturing, hospitality,

pharmaceutical, telecommunications,

media, packaged goods, real estate,

professional services

• B2C: Real estate, high-value retail,

financial services

Territory manager

• Same as above, but customers are

all in the same geographic area, or


• B2B: Technology, manufacturing,

hospitality, pharmaceutical,

telecommunications, media,

packaged goods

• B2C: Not widely used in B2C

Business development


• Responsible for identifying,

prospecting, and developing new


• After the customer signs the

contract (or buys the product or

service), the account manager takes

over the day-to-day contact with

the customer

• Meets revenue, profit, and new

customer acquisition goals

• B2B: Technology, IT services,

manufacturing, hospitality,

pharmaceutical, telecommunications,

media, packaged goods, business

services, professional services,


• B2C: Not widely used in B2C

Customer relationship • Responsible for the overall • B2B: Technology, IT services,

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Title Description Industries

satisfaction of the customer

• Usually a part of selling

organizations that provide long-

term professional services

manufacturing, hospitality,

pharmaceutical, telecommunications,

media, professional services,


• B2C: Not widely used in B2C

Product specialist, technical


• Expert in a specific product or

service area

• Participates in sales calls after the

customer shows an interest to

demonstrate or describe use and

applications of the product or


• B2B: Technology, IT services,

manufacturing, hospitality,

pharmaceutical, telecommunications,

media, professional services

• B2C: High-value retail, financial


Customer service


• Takes orders, provides product

information, processes orders

internally, and follows up as

necessary with the customer

• May also provide outbound calls to

customers to follow up

• B2B: Technology, IT services,

manufacturing, hospitality,

pharmaceutical, telecommunications,

packaged goods, professional

services, health care

• B2C: Retail (including online

selling), packaged goods

Telesales representative

• Makes outbound or inbound

contact with customers over the


• Activities include identifying

prospective customers, providing

information, completing a sale, and

performing any necessary follow-

• B2B: Technology, IT services,

telecommunications, media,

professional services

• B2C: Retail, insurance, financial

services, publishing, political parties,


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Title Description Industries


Just from the summary in Table 2.1 “Types of B2B and B2C Sales Positions”, you can see that there are a

variety of different types of sales positions in many industries. You might find it helpful to think about the

overall roles and functions that each performs. For example, customer service reps and telesales reps are

considered order-takers because they interact with customers to consummate a sale, but their role does

not require planning or consultative selling. On the other hand, positions such as account manager,

territory manager, customer relationship manager, and business development manager are order-

getters because they actually work to develop a relationship and solve customers’ problems on an ongoing

basis. [11] Sometimes, account managers, account executives, territory managers, and other similar roles

perform missionary selling, which means that they call on customers who are not the ultimate purchaser.

For instance, if you were a professor and an account manager from a textbook company called on you and

brought you a copy of a new book on sales management for next semester’s class, that would be

considered missionary selling because the sales rep would be telling you about the textbook, but you are

not the ultimate purchaser. In this case, the sales rep is calling on you so that you adopt the textbook, put

it on your syllabus, and as a result, your students purchase the textbook.

Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
What’s in a Name?

Nike no longer uses the title “sales rep” for people in their sales force; their titles are now “account

executive” and “account manager.” The change in titles is a reflection of their recent change in selling

strategy. Nike realized that simply bringing new samples to retailers isn’t enough in this competitive

marketplace. They consider planning to be a major part of the selling process, and the sales team plays a

key role in planning in two ways: helping customers, such as retailers, plan their business and providing

feedback and insights back to Nike to help plan the next generation of products. At Nike, your title says it

all. [12]

If you are considering a career in sales, the Selling Power magazine “50 Best Companies to Sell For Now”

is an excellent resource to identify prospective employers.

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Selling Power Magazine

“50 Best Companies to Sell For Now” (subscription required)

You can also learn more about specific descriptions of sales positions by reviewing some job postings on, Yahoo! HotJobs, or using sales in the keyword search.

Direct Selling

You may have been invited to a “party” at a friend’s or relative’s house to see the new line of Nutrilite

Ocean Essentials vitamins and supplements. You have heard good things about the products from your

friend. You didn’t realize that Nutrilite also made sports drinks and energy bars. You have a great time

trying the products and talking to everyone at the party, so you decide to try the Nutrilite ROC 20

Antioxidant Enhanced Drink Mix, and you order it in three flavors.

You just experienced the direct selling process, “the sale of a consumer product or service away from a

fixed retail location.” [13] Some of the most well-known direct selling companies are Amway, Mary Kay

Cosmetics, Avon, and Pampered Chef. There are over 15 million people in the United States who sell

products or services via direct selling, which is almost four times more than twenty years ago. In 2007, the

industry generated $30.8 billion in sales in the United States. [14]

What makes direct selling so appealing is the fact that you can run your own business using the power of

an established brand name and without the costs of manufacturing or providing the product or service.

More important, you are your own boss. Although direct selling usually requires an initial purchase of

products or services, called starting inventory, many direct sellers have been able to supplement their

incomes and in some cases make it their full-time job, earning more than six figures a year. Given the

opportunities, you probably aren’t surprised to learn that direct selling is growing as a result of the

uncertain job market. Recent grads, retirees, and everyone in between are turning to direct selling as a

way to safeguard them during the recession. It’s attractive because those who sell or distribute the

products (also called independent business owners [IBOs]) make a percentage on the products they sell.

Popular Career

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Learn about the current trends in direct selling.

But direct selling isn’t lucrative for everyone. Not all IBOs maintain their focus and develop their network.

It’s hard work running your own business. It takes time, discipline, effort, focus, and passion. In fact, only

10 percent of IBOs work full-time or at least thirty hours a week. [15]

Many direct selling companies engage in network marketing, also called multilevel marketing (MLM),

which allows IBOs to invite other people to sell the products and earn money based on the sales of those

they recruited. If you think about the concept of social networking on Web sites such as Facebook, it’s easy

to understand MLM. You can expand your network of contacts simply by tapping into the network of your

friends; MLM operates on the same principle. If you sell to your friends and they sell to their friends, your

opportunity to earn money expands significantly with every contact. So if you were an IBO for The Body

Shop and you recruited your friend Jessica to be an IBO, and she recruited her friend Lashanda to be an

IBO, you would not only make commission on your product sales, but also on the product sales of Jessica

and Lashanda. You can see how being a part of an MLM company can offer significant earning

potential. [16]

Unfortunately, there have been some unscrupulous people involved in the MLM business, and some have

created pyramid schemes in which many people have lost money. As a result, most states have laws

against “pyramiding,” a practice that offers incentives simply for recruiting new members of the network

or IBOs. The laws require incentives to be paid only when sales are generated. [17]

You might want to check out the top multilevel marketing companies worldwide at the Web site noted


Top Multilevel Marketing Companies

Other Selling Environments

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You’ve now seen how B2B, B2C, and direct selling work. Still, there are some other selling environments

that you may also want to explore.

Entrepreneurial Selling

Martha Stewart (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Jeff Bezos

(Amazon) each had a unique idea for a product or service. And while good ideas are key to building a

business, what ultimately made each of these people successful was their ability to sell their idea to their

customers and to their investors.

If you have the passion and vision to start your own business, you will need selling skills no matter what

business you decide to create. Being an entrepreneur can be exhilarating, invigorating, and exciting. But it

can also be challenging, time-consuming, and frustrating. That’s why successful entrepreneurs, like

successful salespeople, plan, do their homework, listen to customers, and make ideas and solutions come

alive. It’s no surprise that the traits of a successful salesperson discussed earlier in this chapter are the

same traits that are required of an entrepreneur. Just like the different types of sales positions covered

previously, there are virtually unlimited types of businesses that can be started by entrepreneurs.

Consider the fact that the Internet levels the playing field because it provides business opportunities to all

businesses regardless of size. Many of these entrepreneurial business opportunities were not available

even a few years ago (and will undoubtedly provide new opportunities that don’t even exist yet). So

whether you are a Power Seller on eBay or a dog-walker in your neighborhood, you have the power to start

the business of your dreams. This course will give you the invaluable skills and the insights necessary to

do so. In fact, Chapter 15 “Entrepreneurial Selling: The Power of Running Your Own Business” is devoted

entirely to entrepreneurial selling.

Domestic versus Global Selling

Does technology eliminate the need for salespeople, or does it create opportunities to connect the dots

between the company and the customer? Are salespeople more important domestically or globally? Is

there a different expectation for global selling? Although these are complex questions that could take an

entire course to address, you might find it helpful to know that the outlook for personal selling both in the

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United States and internationally is very strong. According to a study of executives from the United States,

France, and Mexico, “Personal selling is not going to go away and the future looks bright.” Furthermore,

the study found that with the use of technology, and in many cases because of it, it’s even more important

that salespeople not only know the product and the customer, but also the industry and the environment.

The diversification of product lines and customers’ needs for ancillary products such as service

agreements, maintenance contracts, and multilingual options, make a skilled salesperson even more

important in the transaction. [18]

Companies expand internationally for several reasons, one of which is that business in the United States is

extremely competitive, so companies need more opportunities to increase sales and profits. In some cases,

the only opportunity for growth is to expand internationally. But international selling presents an

additional level of challenges, including cultural, political, legal, demographic, and economic issues.

Nonetheless, countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China, often referred to as the BRIC nations, are

quickly transforming the global economy. China and India account for one-third of the world’s

population, and so they represent a huge opportunity for global companies. [19] It’s likely that a company

for which you sell will be doing business internationally, and if it’s not now, it will be some time soon.

Some global companies include a one- to three-year sales assignment based in a foreign country.

Nonprofit Selling

Nonprofit organizations are those that use their proceeds to reinvest in the cause and are granted “tax-

exempt” status from federal and other taxes. [20]Religious organizations, charitable organizations, trade

unions, and other specifically defined organizations may qualify as nonprofit. [21] In fact, your school may

be a nonprofit organization.

You might be wondering what selling has to do with nonprofit organizations. The fact is that fund-raising

and the development of endowments are actually the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations. Your school

may have a director of alumni relations and development. This is the person who secures donations for

the continued development of the school and facilities; for example, if your school needs a new athletic

facility or classroom building, much of the funding would likely come through the alumni office. Just like

for-profit businesses, selling is the engine of nonprofit organizations as well. If you have a passion for a

particular cause, such as the green movement, breast cancer, literacy, or education, among others, and

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want to focus on making a contribution by choosing a career in the nonprofit sector, you can find selling

opportunities at many organizations. Although you may want to volunteer for some organizations before

you make a career choice, there are paying career fund-raising and development positions in the nonprofit

sector. Check out these Web sites to see jobs and job descriptions in the nonprofit sector.

Learn more about nonprofit job opportunities and job descriptions.

Opportunity Knocks


Nonprofit Job Scoop

• Companies sell to customers in business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) channels. The

type of channel is based on the type of consumer who is buying.

• B2B selling differs from B2C selling because there are relatively few customers, larger purchases, and

longer selling cycle.

• When you are engaged in consultative selling, you build a relationship and tailor solutions according to

your customers’ needs. When you are engaged in transactional selling, you are focused on a single sale or


• There are many different types of selling positions that may vary by industry. You may be involved

in outside sales, which includes meeting face-to-face with your customers or you may be involved

in inside sales, which includes contact by phone, e-mail, text, instant messaging (IM), or fax, as well as

sales support activities.

• Other selling environments include direct selling (independent sales agents), entrepreneurial selling (a

business started by an individual), global selling (selling in countries outside the United States), and

nonprofit selling (also called fund-raising or development).


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1. Identify two companies that sell in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer channels. Discuss

at least two ways in which they sell differently to businesses as opposed to consumers.

2. Identify a company that uses both transactional selling and consultative selling. Discuss the difference in

the types of products that are sold in each example. Discuss the difference in the customer experience in

each example.

3. Discuss the different types of sales positions you learned about in this section. Which type is attractive to

you as a possible career? Why?

4. Discuss the reasons why someone might want to pursue a career in sales. Discuss the reasons someone

might not want to pursue a career in sales.

5. Research companies and identify which offer some of the sales positions described in this chapter.

6. Contact a salesperson at a company in your area. Ask him to describe his role in the company, what type

of customers he sells to, and what it takes to be successful in sales.

7. Visit the Web site of one of the multilevel marketing companies such as Pampered Chef

(, Amway (, or Silpada Designs

( Discuss the pros and cons of being an independent business owner

(IBO). Discuss the type of selling used by the IBO; is it transactional or consultative?

8. [1] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin), 10.

9. [2] Gerald L. Manning, Barry L. Reece, and Michael Ahearne, Selling Today: Creating Customer Value, 11th

ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall), 10.

10. [3] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York:

McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 55.

11. [4] Gerald L. Manning, Barry L. Reece, and Michael Ahearne, Selling Today: Creating Customer Value, 11th

ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall), 12.

12. [5] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin), 36.

13. [6] Leslie Cauley, “AT&T: We’re All About Wireless,” USA Today, July 31,


apple_N.htm?csp=34 (accessed June 25, 2009).

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14. [7] Justin Sorkin, “AT&T Urging Apple to Extend Its iPhone Exclusive Agreement until 2011,”,

April 15, 2009,

agreement-till-2011 (accessed June 25, 2009).

15. [8] American Customer Service Index, “Rise in Consumer Satisfaction Continues—Now Followed by Other

Economic Indicators,” First Quarter


_Joined_by_Other_Economic_Indicators.html (accessed June 23, 2009).

16. [9] Michael Levens, Marketing: Defined, Explained, Applied (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall,

2010), 184.

17. [10] Heather Baldwin, “What Does Sales 2.0 Mean for You?” Selling Power Sales Management

eNewsletter, March 3,

2008, (accessed March 16, 2010).

18. [11] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York:

McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 11.

19. [12] Anna Muoio, “Sales School,” Fast Company, December 18,

2007, (accessed June 23, 2009).

20. [13] Direct Selling Association, “About Direct Selling,” (accessed

June 21, 2009).

21. [14] Alina Cho, “Avon, Mary Kay Making Comeback,” CNN American Morning, June 17,

2009, June 21,


22. [15] Charisse Jones, “Want a Recession-proof Job? Think Direct Sales,” USA Today, May 14, 2009, 1B.

23. [16] “Multilevel Marketing,” Inc., (accessed

June 21, 2009).

24. [17] Federal Trade Commission, “The Bottom Line about Multilevel Marketing Plans and Pyramid

Schemes,” June 21, 2009).

25. [18] John F. Tanner, Jr., Christophe Fournier, Jorge A. Wise, Sandrine Hollet, and Juliet Poujol, “Executives’

Perspectives of the Changing Role of the Sales Profession: Views from France, the United States, and

Mexico,” Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 23, no. 3 (2008): 193.

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26. [19] George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing

Communications Perspective, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 653–57.

27. [20] Carter McNamara, “Starting a Nonprofit Organization,” Free Management

Library, (accessed June 23,


28. [21] Internal Revenue Service, “Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-

Profits,” (accessed June 23, 2009).

2.3 Selling U: Résumé and Cover Letter Essentials


1. Learn how to position your education and experience to create a résumé and cover letter to get the job

you want.

Think about how you first learned about the new Palm Pre smartphone or that Gatorade had

changed its name to simply “G.” How did you know that Pre had even more capabilities than the

iPhone or that Gatorade was “moving to the next level”? Chances are it was some kind of advertising

or public relations that made you aware of these products before you even tried them.

Now think about your personal brand. How will employers know about you and what you have to

offer? A résumé and cover letter serve as your “advertising” campaign to prospective employers. Just

like there are lots of ads about products and services, there are an overwhelming number

of résumés and cover letters that employers have to review before inviting someone in for an

interview. How do you make yours stand out? How do you increase your chances of being one of the

people who are interviewed? How do you use your cover letter and your résumé to get the job you


There are a few important steps to follow to create the résumé and cover letter that will make you

different and compelling to a prospective employer. You will use both of these to apply for jobs

online and to send to people with whom you are networking, and you will even send them directly to

companies for whom you would like to work. You only have an instant (think nanosecond) to make a

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lasting impression. If you think you only need a résumé to get a job, you should think again. Your

cover letter can play an even more important role than your résumé. Here are some steps to help you

create a cover letter that gets read and a résumé that gets you the interview. If you already have a

résumé and cover letter, it’s worth reviewing this section because you will learn some important tips

to improve them.

Five Steps for a Résumé That Stands Out

Looking for the right job to start your career is a process that includes preparing your résumé and cover

letter, getting your cover letter and résumé to the right people, going on interviews, and negotiating and

accepting the right offer. You are at the beginning of the process; you’ll learn about the rest of the process

throughout the Selling U sections in this book. This section focuses entirely on creating your résumé and

cover letter. Keep in mind that the only purpose for a résumé and cover letter is to get an interview. So

your résumé and cover letter need to be crafted in a way that tells what your personal brand has to offer,

or your brand story, in a concise and compelling way.

Step 1: Define Your Three Brand Points That Make You Unique and Provide Value to a

Prospective Employer

If this sounds familiar, it should be. This was covered in detail in Chapter 1 “The Power to Get What You

Want in Life”, but it is such an essential concept that it deserves repetition here. If you haven’t identified

your three brand points, you should go back and review the section. Your brand points are actually the

foundation of your résumé and cover letter; it is in their summary that you compose your brand story.

You might think of creating a résumé that is a chronological summary of your background. This is good,

but it is not compelling enough to differentiate yourself amid the sea of résumés. There are two important

things to remember when creating your résumé:

1. Tell your brand story with your brand points.

2. Your brand points should be clear at a glance (literally).

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Let’s say your three brand points are leadership experience, academic excellence, and community service.

Those three brand points make up your brand story, the story that you want to tell about yourself, so your

résumé headings should highlight these areas.

To see what this means, review the two versions of the same résumé for Julianna Lanely in Figure 2.7

“Standard Résumé” and Figure 2.8 “Standard Résumé Incorporating Brand Points”. The first one was

written using a standard résumé approach; the second one was built by incorporating her brand points of

marketing and event planning experience, academic excellence, and creative mind-set. Can you see the

difference? Which résumé do you think is more compelling? Before you create (or refine) your résumé,

identify your three brand points.

Figure 2.7 Standard Résumé

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Figure 2.8 Standard Résumé Incorporating Brand Points

Step 2: Choose Your Résumé Format and Font

Now that you have the foundation of your résumé message (or your three brand points), it’s time to

choose a résumé format. Executives in all industries encourage students and young professionals (those

who have been working for five years or less) not to exceed one page for your résumé. In some cases, it

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may be difficult to keep all of your experience and accomplishments to one page, so choose those that best

tell your brand story. As one executive said, “It better be worth my while to turn to page two.” [1]

There are several appropriate résumé templates available at your campus career center or in Microsoft

Word. The downside to some templates is that they are difficult to adjust or adapt. The most important

thing to consider when you are choosing your résumé format is to be sure it is easy for the reader to skim.

Some formats with horizontal lines separating the categories, or those with dates that precede company

and position information, are harder to skim because the reader has to work too hard to see the brand

story. See the comments in Figure 2.7 “Standard Résumé” to recognize some things to avoid in your


It’s easy to create a résumé that looks like Julianna Lanely’s revised résumé shown in Figure 2.8

“Standard Résumé Incorporating Brand Points”.

Once you choose the format you want to use, you should choose a font that you will use for your résumé

and cover letter. The font should be easy to read like Arial or Times New Roman (Arial is a bit more

contemporary; Times New Roman is more traditional). It’s best to use twelve-point type (or eleven-point

at the smallest) for ease of readability. If you need a little more space on your résumé, consider adjusting

the margins slightly, keeping at least 0.7 for each margin. You don’t want your résumé to feel crowded or

that it is an effort to read.

Step 3: Choose Your Headings and Put the Most Important Ones First

Now that you’ve done your groundwork, it’s time to actually create your résumé. Think about your brand

points and then determine the headings you want to use. Use headings that help you tell your brand story

at a glance. Don’t focus yet on what you will write in each heading; that will be covered in Step 4.

There are some headings that are standard to include such as “Objective,” “Education,” and “Experience,”

but other headings should be used to support your brand story. For example, instead of having a heading

for “Work Experience,” be more specific and use “Sales Experience” to highlight that if it is one of your

brand points.

One of the most critical things to remember is to put the most important things first. Start with a heading

for “Objective,” then “Education.” As you gain more experience in your career, your education will move

to the bottom. But at this point, it is a key selling point for your brand.

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Now, it’s time to put your brand points to work by choosing headings that tell your story. For example, if

academic excellence is one of your brand points, you might consider adding a heading after “Education”

called “Scholarships and Awards” or “Honors” to highlight honors and awards that demonstrate your

academic excellence. This is the ideal place for things like dean’s list, National Honor Society, or any other

awards, honors, or scholarships that you have received.

It’s a good idea for your next heading to reflect one of your brand points such as “Leadership Skills” or

“Sales Experience” (or any other specific type of experience). If leadership skills are one of your brand

points, it’s better to not make the reader go all the way to the bottom of the page to read about your

leadership skills under a generic heading called “Activities.” If it’s important to your brand story, bring

your skills into focus in the first part of your résumé with a strong heading like “Leadership Skills.” This

section could include athletic, school or professional organization, or any other type of leadership

position. If you don’t have leadership skills, don’t worry—you still have a lot to offer. Follow your brand

points to tell your story.

Next, include your work experience. This is where you can really make your brand story come alive. Don’t

be restricted to a traditional chronological order of your jobs. If you have had an internship in marketing,

sales, or other area that supports your brand points, make a separate heading for it, such as “Marketing

Experience” or “Sales Experience.” If you have had other jobs, you can simply add another heading after it

called “Work Experience” below it. Or if your work experience has a common theme, you might want to

name your heading “Retail Experience,” “Customer Service Experience,” or “Hospitality Experience.” This

approach tells the reader at a glance that you have valuable experience in the area you want to pursue.

You should know that employers look for people who have worked in retail and in restaurants because

they know that they can sell and work with customers. Use this type of experience to sell yourself.

If you have participated in projects or activities to support the community, you may want to include a

heading for “Community Service.” If you have additional activities that are worth noting, you might

consider a heading for “Activities.” It’s best to avoid a long list of generic activities at the end of your

résumé, so think about how they tell your brand story. It’s best to include your most recent activities.

Although you may include some key activities from high school, it’s better if you can replace those with

your more recent activities. It’s not necessary to include the dates of your involvement.

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It’s a good idea to have a final heading for “Skills” at the end of your résumé. This should include

computer software in which you are proficient such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, Adobe

Acrobat, and others. It’s a good reminder to your prospective employer that you are skilled for any

position. Although it may seem second nature to you to use these software products, there are employers

who didn’t learn them in school so they may not be aware that you are proficient in them.

A few things that should not be included on your résumé are “References available upon request,”

“Hobbies and Activities,” or a photo. Prospective employers expect to check your references, you should

have more substantial things to put on your résumé than hobbies and activities, and many companies

cannot consider résumés with photos as it would be considered discrimination.

See Rakeem Bateman’s résumé shown in Figure 2.9 “Standard Résumé Incorporating Effective

Headings” to see how headings are used effectively to highlight his brand points of leadership skills, sales

experience, and a committed work ethic.

Figure 2.9 Standard Résumé Incorporating Effective Headings

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Step 4: Write Your Bullet Points

Once you have determined your headings, it’s time to make your brand points come alive with bullet

points under each heading. Bullet points are better than a narrative format because they are easier for the

reader to skim. But, since the reader is skimming, each bullet point is that much more important. Keep

your bullet points concise, but specific, so that each delivers powerful information.

Start with your objective and write a short, specific goal. One sentence is perfect; you don’t have to be

flowery or profound. Something that helps the reader understand what you are looking for is best. For

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example, if you want to get a job in pharmaceutical sales, your objective might be, “To obtain a sales

position at a pharmaceutical company.” Or you might want to get a job in an advertising agency so your

objective might be, “To obtain a full-time position in account management at an advertising agency.”

Short, sweet, to the point, and effective.

For your education, include the formal name of your college or university, city and state, formal degree

(e.g., Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies), and year or expected year of graduation. It’s not

necessary to include the range of years you attended school. Now that you are in college, it’s best to

remove your high school education. See Figure 2.9 “Standard Résumé Incorporating Effective

Headings” for an example of how to list your education. You may be interested to know that your grade

point average is not a requirement on a résumé. Generally, if your GPA is 3.5 or above, you may want to

include it. [2] The fact is most business people don’t recognize the significance of a GPA unless it’s 4.0. So,

if academic achievement is one of your brand points, you should consider adding a heading for

“Scholarship and Awards” to demonstrate your accomplishments and make them come alive for the

reader. If academics aren’t your strong suit, don’t include your GPA; just list your education. [3] If you have

studied internationally, you might consider a heading or subheading named “International Study.”

Include the program name, school, and countries visited, as well as the dates of the travel.

Awards or honors can be listed as bullet points under the “Scholarship and Awards” heading. For

experience headings such as “Leadership Experience,” “Sales Experience,” or “Customer Service

Experience,” list the name of the company, city and state, your title, and dates of employment. If you use

boldface for the company name, it stands out and helps the reader see at a glance where you have worked.

The bullet points in these sections are critical to setting yourself apart; they should be concise and

specific, but descriptive, and they should focus on accomplishments and contributions, not a listing of

activities or tasks. This will most likely take some time to write these bullet points, but it will be time well

spent. Consider the difference between these two bullet points to describe a position at a restaurant:

• Took orders over the phone and in person

This statement can be more powerful when restated with quantitative details:

• Provided customer service to over 100 patrons during every shift, including taking orders by phone

and at table-side; named Associate of the Month in August 2009

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Consider the difference between these two bullet points to describe administrative responsibilities at an


• Filled in for receptionist, answered phones, processed invoices

This line can be more powerful when restated in the following manner:

• Provided administrative support for the 30-person office; created new work flow for processing

invoices that reduced turnaround time by 2 days

Consider the difference between these two bullet points to describe responsibilities as a bank teller:

• Processed customer transactions

This statement can be more powerful when restated as the following:

• Processed over 80 customer transactions daily with 100% accuracy.

Your bullet points should help reinforce your brand points with details of how you delivered on those

points. It might be helpful to write down all the things you did at each job and then identify the stories you

can tell for each job. This is how you demonstrate traits such as ability to multitask, organizational skills,

teamwork, and other skills.

Step 5: Review, Check Spelling, Proofread, and Repeat

It’s true that some résumés are never even considered because of a typo or grammar error. After you

finish your résumé, take a break, and then review it objectively. Does it clearly tell your brand story? Are

your brand points the most important topics? If someone read your résumé, what would that person think

you have to offer? Make any necessary adjustments. Then spell-check and proofread it carefully. It’s a

good idea to ask some people you trust—perhaps at your campus career center, a parent, professor, or

mentor—to review and proofread your résumé. You can’t be too cautious.

When you are satisfied that your résumé is perfect, print it on twenty-four-pound paper (you can buy it at

your campus bookstore or any office supply store or Web site).

You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
How to Save It

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It’s best to save your résumé and cover letter in several formats. A Word document is standard for sending

résumés and cover letters. However, online job posting boards remove formatting, so it’s best to also save

your documents as .txt files in Microsoft Word (File, Save As, for file type choose “Plain Text (*.txt).” Click

OK when the dialogue box appears. Check your document to be sure elements are still in place; adjust

accordingly, then save). It’s also helpful to save your documents in PDF format by going to [4] It’s a good idea to use a file name such as “John Jones Résumé” because it lets the reader

know exactly what file he or she is opening and doesn’t give away your working name. [5] Avoid file names

such as “Official Résumé,” or “Résumé January 2010” as they don’t include your name and are not


Three Steps for a Cover Letter That Gets Noticed

If you haven’t prepared a cover letter to send with your résumé, you should consider writing one.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Cover letters are still necessary, and in a

competitive market they can give you a serious edge if they are written and presented effectively.” [6] A

cover letter is key if you need to set yourself apart, whether you are seeking an internship or a full-time


Step 1: Start with Your Three Brand Points

Maybe you are dreading the thought of writing a cover letter. It’s easier than you think, since you have

already identified your brand points. Write a summary statement for each of your three brand points. In

other words, if you only had one minute to talk about your three brand points, what would you say about

each one? Write two concise sentences for each point. It might be rough right now, but it will become the

core of your cover letter.

Step 2: Understand the Elements of a Cover Letter

Now you just need to know how to structure your brand story to make it come alive for the reader. A cover

letter has three major sections:

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1. First paragraph. Introduction and purpose for your letter. [7]

2. Second paragraph. Reasons why you will bring value to the company (this is where you include

your brand points). [8]

3. Third paragraph. Closing and follow-up. [9]

Since business people skim cover letters and résumés, it’s a good idea to use boldface to highlight your

brand points. [10] Take a look at the cover letter inFigure 2.10 “Effective Cover Letter” to see how your

brand points become the focus of your cover letter. It’s important to repeat the highlights of your résumé

in your cover letter so the reader can see at a glance how you can bring value as a prospective employee.

Since you only have a few seconds to “sell” the reader on the fact that you are the right person for the job,

you want to introduce the highlights in the cover letter and then provide the details in your résumé. Your

cover letter and résumé work together to tell your brand story.

Figure 2.10 Effective Cover Letter

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Besides the three core paragraphs of your cover letter, you will also want to know about the appropriate

way to format a cover letter. Your cover letter should be limited to a single page and should include the

same font that you used for your résumé. See Figure 2.11 “Elements of a Cover Letter” for all the elements

of a formal cover letter.

Figure 2.11 Elements of a Cover Letter

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Step 3: Write Your Cover Letter

With your brand points in mind and the structure of a cover letter clearly defined, now you can get to

writing. This is the place where you are able to demonstrate you personality and your selling skills. You

can make your cover letter a powerful lead-in to your résumé and sell your prospective employer on the

reasons why you should come in for an interview. As with your résumé, be sure to spell-check and

proofread your cover letter carefully. Review your cover letter and résumé together to be sure your brand

story is clear and powerful. Look at Rakeem Bateman’s cover letter and résumé together in Figure 2.12

“Sample Cover Letter and Sample Résumé” to see how the two documents can work together and really

set you apart just at a glance.

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Figure 2.12 Sample Cover Letter and Sample Résumé

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This cover letter can be the basis of the letter you use for most situations. Now that you have your cover

letter, you should adapt it and personalize it for every situation. For example, if you are applying for a job

that is posted online, adapt the letter to show how your brand points address the needs of the position.

You may even want to create one or two new brand points that also define your brand that you can change

based on the job posting.

It’s best to use your cover letter whenever you send your résumé to someone, whether you are responding

to a job posting, networking, or sending out letters to your target companies. The Selling U section

in Chapter 8 “The Preapproach: The Power of Preparation” includes several ways to get your cover letter

and résumé out to prospective employers.

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• Your résumé and cover letter are your “advertising” tools for your personal brand.

• There are five steps that help you write a résumé that stands out from the crowd.

1. Your brand points are the basis of your résumé because they define your brand and the value you

can bring to a prospective employer.

2. You can choose a résumé format that is easy for the reader to skim and see your brand points.

3. The headings on your résumé help provide a framework to tell your brand story.

4. The bullet points under each entry on your résumé should focus on your accomplishments and

achievements, not just a listing of job tasks.

5. Always spell-check and proofread your résumé carefully. In fact, it’s a good idea to have several

people review your résumé for accuracy before you send it to prospective employers.

• Your résumé should always be sent with your cover letter. Your cover letter highlights your brand points,

which are further reinforced in your résumé.

• A cover letter contains three major parts: the first paragraph that acts as an introduction, the second

paragraph that highlights the value you can bring to the company, and the third paragraph that is the



1. Visit your campus career center and learn about different formats for your résumé. Which ones do you

like? Why? Which one will you use? Is it easy for the reader to skim and see your brand story?

2. Visit your campus career center and learn about the format for a cover letter. What elements are

included in a formal cover letter, which are not included in a casual e-mail?

3. [1] Connie Pearson-Bernard, “Careers in Communications Night,” presentation at West Chester University,

West Chester, PA, March 23, 2009.

4. [2] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 156.

5. [3] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 156.

6. [4] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 224.

7. [5] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 226.

8. [6] Phyllis Korkki, “A Cover Letter Is Not Expendable,” New York Times, February 15, 2009, business

section, 10.

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9. [7] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 162.

10. [8] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 162.

11. [9] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 162.

12. [10] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 162.

2.4 Review and Practice

Power Wrap-Up
Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand the following opportunities that

are available for a career in selling.

• You can understand what traits it takes to be a successful salesperson.

• You can describe the difference between business-to-business and business-to-consumer selling.

• You can discuss other selling environments such as direct, entrepreneurial, global, and nonprofit


• You can create your résumé and cover letter so they quickly tell your brand story and focus on the

value you can bring to a prospective employer.
T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

1. Name at least four of the traits of successful salespeople that are discussed in the chapter.

2. What is WII-FM, and what role does it have in a career in selling?

3. What does pay-for-performance mean in selling?

4. Which is better, a job that pays more or a job that you enjoy?

5. Identify whether each of the following is a B2B or a B2C selling channel:

a. ____ Selling a fence to a dog-training company.

b. ____ Selling business cards to a small business owner.

c. ____ Selling food to a school for the cafeteria.

d. ____ Selling energy drinks to spectators at a race.

Are there selling opportunities in a nonprofit organization?

What are the foundation of your résumé and cover letter?
P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

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Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. The following are two roles that are involved in the

same selling situation—one role is the customer, and the other is the salesperson. This will give you the

opportunity to think about this selling situation from the point of view of both the customer and the


Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-

play in groups or individually.

Trust Me?

Role: Seller of a home

You are the owner of a four-bedroom home in a very nice part of town. The home has a spectacular view

and impeccable landscaping. It is decorated so well that everyone who comes over wishes his or her house

could look like yours. You and your spouse have decided that you want to sell your home even though the

market is soft. You think you have found the real estate agent with whom you want to list the house. You

want to get top dollar for your home.

• What characteristics will you look for when you choose a real estate agent?

• What role do you have to help ensure a successful sale of your home?

• Is this a B2B or B2C sale?

Role: Real estate agent

You are a seasoned real estate agent with a loyal clientele in this part of town. You have a track record of

selling very expensive homes and reaping the benefits. You have done very well because of your referral

business. But lately, the soft economy has taken its toll on your sales. You believe that keeping the prices

as low as possible will attract new buyers.

• Is this a B2B or B2C sale?

• If you are the real estate agent, how would you approach the sellers to get the listing at the price you


• What characteristics does the real estate agent need to be successful?

• What characteristics do the sellers need to be successful?
P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

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1. Follow the five steps in the chapter to create your résumé. Review your résumé with someone at the

campus career center, a professor, a parent, or a mentor and get feedback as to how you might refine

and improve it.

2. Follow the three steps in the chapter to write your cover letter. Review your cover letter and résumé with

someone at the campus career center, a professor, or a mentor and get feedback as to how well they tell

your brand story.

3. Use your cover letter and résumé to apply for an internship or job you want online. Adjust the cover letter

to personalize your cover letter for the requirements of the position.


1. Character and ability to build trust, ability to connect, listening skills, ability to ask the right questions,

willingness to learn, drive to succeed, resilience and positive attitude, risk taking, ability to ask for the

order, independence and discipline, flexibility, and passion.

2. WII-FM is the radio station that everyone listens to: What’s In It For Me. It’s always important to think

about what you want out of life, and a career in selling has a lot of advantages for you, including financial

opportunity, chance for advancement, and personal satisfaction.

3. Pay-for-performance is a term that describes the fact that you make more money based on selling more.

Many sales positions include a pay-for-performance compensation structure, which means that the more

you sell, the more money you make. Conversely, if you don’t meet your objectives, your paycheck will be


4. Although compensation is important, it’s not the only measure of a good job. Choosing a job that you

enjoy with opportunities to achieve what you want and working in the environment that you like with

people you like are important elements in evaluating a position.

5. a. B2B; b. B2B; c. B2B; d. B2C

6. Yes, fund-raising and development (as in creating and building endowments) are some of the selling

opportunities available in the nonprofit sector.

7. Your brand points are the foundation of your résumé and cover letter.

Chapter 3

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The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive
Selling to Work

3.1 The Power of Relationship Selling


1. Understand why relationships are so important in selling.

2. Explain how relationships bring value through consultative selling.

3. Identify who wins in the win-win-win relationship model.

4. Explain how networking builds relationships and businesses.

It was 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Ray Rizzo’s father, in town for the annual family get-together,

had forgotten to bring his suit. What made the situation even more challenging was that Ray’s father

is rather portly with a forty-eight-inch waist and even broader shoulders, a build that requires a fifty-

three-short jacket. Ray and his father rushed to Mitchells, a local clothing store in Connecticut, and

asked Jack Mitchell, the owner, for his help. It was hard to imagine that Ray’s father would possibly

be able to get a suit or even a sport jacket tailored to fit in time for the family gathering. After all, it

was Christmas Eve, and the store would be closing in an hour. Jack didn’t hesitate and immediately

enlisted Domenic, the head tailor, and before 6 o’clock that evening, the largest pair of pants and

jacket in the store were tailored to fit Ray’s father perfectly. Needless to say, Ray is a customer for

life. [1]

This situation is what Jack Mitchell calls a hug. If you go shopping for clothes at Mitchells or

Richards in Connecticut, you will get hugged. Maybe not literally, but you will most definitely get

“hugged” figuratively. Jack Mitchell, the CEO of Mitchells/Richards and author of Hug Your

Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results, says, “Hugging is a

way of thinking about customers. To us, hugging is a softer word for passion and relationships. It’s a

way of getting close to your customers and truly understanding them.” [2]

From Personal to Problem Solving

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Think about your best friend. You know her so well that you can just about finish each other’s sentences.

You know her favorite flavor and brand of ice cream, and you can sense when she is having a bad day. You

text and talk to her all the time; you even go out of your way to surprise her sometimes with a gift that you

know she will like. You have a great relationship with her.

Now think about the last time you went into your favorite restaurant. Was it the same kind of experience?

Did the host greet you by name and seat you at your favorite table? Did the waitperson remember that you

like to drink raspberry-flavored iced tea? Was your fish served with the sauce on the side, just the way you

like it? Were you delighted with a new flavor of cappuccino after dinner? When these things happen, the

people at the restaurant make you feel special; after all, you are the reason they are there. When you have

a relationship like this with the people at the restaurant, you are more inclined to return to the restaurant

again and again. If these things don’t happen, it is easier for you to choose a different restaurant the next

time you go out.

The bottom line is that to be successful in selling, any kind of selling, you have to make selling personal.

People do business with people, not with companies. Even in the business-to-business (B2B) selling

channel, it is people who are making decisions on behalf of the company for which they work. Every sale

starts with a relationship. If your relationship is strong, there is a higher likelihood of a sale and a loyal

repeat customer. That means you have to get to know your customer on a one-to-one basis to understand

what he wants, what he needs, and what resources he has. This concept is called relationship selling (or

consultative selling). [3] It is defined by working personally with your customer to understand his needs,

put his needs first, and provide consultation to help him make the best decision for himself or his


You might be thinking that selling is about the product or service, not about relationships. But that’s not

true. You may have heard someone say, “He’s just a pushy salesman,” or you may have experienced

someone trying to give you the “hard sell.” The fact is that selling has evolved dramatically over the past

thirty years. Business is more competitive. The use of technology and the expanded number of product

and service offerings have developed a need for consultative selling in more industries than ever before. It

used to be that salespeople wanted to simply make a sale, which meant that the sale began and ended with

the transaction. But now, it’s not enough to just make the sale. In today’s competitive world, it’s how you

think about the customer that matters. [4] It’s the difference between giving the customer what she needs

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rather than what you want to sell her. [5] The fact is that the sale is just one small part of the relationship.

The real essence of selling is in the relationship. [6]

The salesperson has a new role in most companies. The days of the salesperson as “product pusher” are

just about gone. Customers in B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) environments want and demand

more. Consider the evolution of some major industries. Many of the leading hotel chains keep your

preferences in a database so that their front desk sales team can recognize you personally at check-in and

provide the queen-sized bed in a nonsmoking room on the quiet side of the property that you prefer.

Restaurants work hard to learn, remember, and greet you by your name, maintain your favorite table,

wine, and entrée, and prepare to anticipate your every need. Airlines have tools to recognize you and the

fact that you like an aisle seat as far forward as possible in the plane. [7] All these tactics are steeped in the

theory that customers make choices on the relationship they have with brands. In each one of these

situations, the salesperson is the difference that sets a brand apart at the moment of truth, the moment

the customer comes in contact with the brand. [8] Some brands understand how important each moment

of truth is when creating relationships with customers. For example, Southwest Airlines makes their Web

site easy to use, has humans answer the phone, and has flight and ground attendants that make it a

pleasure to travel with them.

Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
Boot Camp

Johnson Controls, manufacturer of heating and air conditioning systems, thinks that consultative selling

is so important that it holds a Basic Boot Camp for the company’s territory managers at its headquarters

in Norman, Oklahoma, that focuses on leveraging relationships in selling. The classroom-style “boot

camp” includes interactive exercises, product training, and business support training. The company’s

commitment to consultative selling doesn’t end there. Participants who score at least an 85 percent on

their final grade for the Basic Boot Camp and spend six months out in the field can qualify to attend the

elite Special Operations Training, which is by invitation only. [9]

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Relationships are so important in selling that one study surveyed one hundred top B2B salespeople and

found that they attribute 79 percent of their success to their relationships with customers. [10] It is the

relationship with a customer that allows you to bridge the gap between a customer’s problem and the

solution. The relationship is the framework for consultative selling; it’s what allows you to have an open,

honest dialogue, ask the right questions, understand your customer’s needs, and go beyond advising to

helping your customer make the decision that’s right for her. [11]

Common Ground

Selling relationships start as personal relationships. Making a personal connection is vital in the two to

ten minutes of a customer encounter or meeting. [12] Think about the last time you bought a new cell

phone. Chances are, if the person didn’t establish rapport with you from the start, you probably walked

away and bought the phone from a different salesperson, maybe even at a different store. The relationship

includes a sincere bond that goes beyond business and includes common interests and goals. [13] If you are

selling medical imaging equipment to hospitals, you want to build relationships with the administrators,

doctors, and nurses who will be using your equipment in each hospital. When you build a relationship

starting with what’s important to each person individually, it’s easier to expand that relationship to

sharing information and problem solving from a business perspective. As Bob Fitta, a manufacturer’s rep

for several tool companies said about Paul Robichaud, owner of Robi Tools, “I got to know him as a

business person and a real person, and that relationship has endured.” [14]

But consultative selling is more than simply building rapport. In fact, consultative selling goes beyond the

product or service you are selling; it even goes beyond the selling process. It is the “X factor,” the

intangible element that makes a customer choose your product or service even when the competition is

priced lower. Consultative selling is about your personal involvement and sincere focus on problem

solving that goes beyond selling to true partnership with the customer.

Consultative selling doesn’t start and stop at specific times during the relationship. In fact, it defines the

relationship before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale. [15] You will learn about the seven steps of

the selling process in through and how building long-term relationships and consultative selling are the

basis of each step. The concept of building professional relationships is apparent in this example: If you

are selling insurance, consider the fact that your customer may eventually buy a home, have a family, or

purchase a second property. So the relationship you develop when you sell him car insurance as a young

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single man could and should be nurtured and developed over time to provide solutions that answer his

needs as his lifestyle changes. Having this long-term view of customer relationships is called focusing

on lifetime value. It means that you consider not just one transaction with a customer, but also the help

and insight you can provide throughout the entire time frame during which you do business with him. So,

although you may only provide him with basic car insurance now, over the course of more than twenty-

five years that you do business with him, you may ultimately sell him thousands of dollars of insurance

and investment products that meet his changing needs. But that won’t happen if you don’t continue your

relationship and keep in touch, focusing on topics and events that are important to him. If you focus only

on the immediate sale, you will miss a lot of business, not to mention future referrals.

There are several elements that can be included in the calculation of the lifetime value of a customer.

However, a simple formula is
dollar value of purchase × gross profit percent × number of purchases.

For example, if a customer shopped at a retailer and spent $75 on one purchase that had a gross profit of

30 percent, the lifetime value of that customer would be $22.50, calculated as
$75 × 30% × 1 = $22.50.

If the customer made five purchases for $75 each over the course of the time she shopped with the retailer

(let’s say five years), at a gross profit of 30 percent, the lifetime value of the customer would be $112.50,

calculated as
$75 × 30% × 5 = $112.50. [16]

So you can see that the concept of retaining a customer for more than one purchase can provide financial

benefits. In addition, working with the same customer over the course of time provides an opportunity to

learn more about the customer’s needs and provide solutions that better meet those needs.

CRM Tools Help You Manage Relationships

With so many demands on your time as a salesperson, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of some customers

and not follow up, which means that you may only be developing short-term relationships. Or you might

unintentionally let your relationship with a customer “lapse into laziness,” which means that you let the

relationship run on autopilot, relying on your established relationship to keep the business going. In this

case, there’s usually no pressing reason to change; you might think that as long as the customer is happy,

everything is OK. But it’s best to avoid complacency because the world is constantly changing. While you

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are enjoying a comfortable, easy relationship, there are probably new business challenges that you should

be learning about from your customer. Or worse, you may open the door to a competitor because you

weren’t bringing new and relevant ideas to your customer and he began to think of you more as a nice guy

than a resource for advice and new ideas. [17]

Many companies use customer relationship management (CRM) tools, which are technology solutions

that organize all of a customer’s interactions with a company in one place. In other words, CRM is a

customer database that holds all the information regarding a transaction (e.g., date; products purchased;

salesperson who sold the products; and name, address, and contact information of the customer). In

addition, it captures all communication the customer has had with the company, including calls made to

the company call center, posts and reviews made to the company Web site, and the details of each sales

call made by a salesperson. Some CRM tools are extremely sophisticated and help the salesperson and the

company to manage relationships with prospects and customers. Other CRM tools are simpler and are

focused on helping the salesperson manage her relationship with prospects and customers.[18]

A CRM tool works in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples. A construction contractor calls a toll-free

number for a plumbing supply company after seeing an ad in a trade journal. The prospect inquiry is sent

via e-mail to the appropriate salesperson. The salesperson reviews the CRM system to see if there have

been any previous contacts with the customer and if there is any information about the customer and his

business. Then he returns the prospect’s phone call and sets up a date to meet him to learn more about his

business needs. The salesperson makes a note in the CRM system about the phone call and the date of the

meeting and sets a follow-up reminder for himself for the meeting and for three days after the meeting.

When the salesperson meets with the prospect, he learns that the prospect has five developments that he

manages. The salesperson makes a note in the CRM system so everyone from the company who comes in

contact with the prospect, such as other salespeople or customer service, know this information about the


CRM tools can be extremely helpful in managing customer relationships, especially where there are

multiple people in the company who come in contact with prospects and customers. CRM tools also make

it easier to understand the lifetime value of a customer since all purchases, inquiries, and other contacts

are included in the system. It is the information that is gathered in a CRM system that helps a salesperson

better understand customer behavior, communication patterns, and short- as well as long-term needs.

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For example, many companies offer loyalty programs as a tactic to increase sales but also to gather

information about customer preferences to offer more relevant messages and offers. CRM tools are used

to manage loyalty programs, such as Best Buy Rewards Zone, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, and the

Safeway card for their different local grocery chains. This information is then used for marketing and

selling purposes. Best Buy can identify all the recent purchasers of Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers and

send them an e-mail for HP ink cartridges. CRM tools are used to manage customer relationships in other

ways. For example, Starbucks uses, a widely used CRM tool, to power their

MyStarbucksIdea Web site. The Web site is a collaboration and feedback tool that engages customers in

providing ideas to the company. To manage the relationships with customers online, Starbucks uses a

CRM tool. This allows Starbucks to provide personal feedback to each customer on all the ideas they

submit. Visit to see this interactive suggestion box.


Face Time

So you might think that customer relationships are easy to maintain with text messaging, e-mail, and

other technology-based methods of communication. After all, that’s how you communicate with your

friends. But while technology can enhance an established relationship because it allows you to provide

information and insight at a moment’s notice, the fact is that most significant customer relationships,

especially in B2B selling, require face-to-face communication. [19]

In this world of high-tech instant communication, some relationships can easily become “low-touch,” or

missing the human element. Meeting with and entertaining customers is an important part of the selling

process. It helps you get to know customers in an environment outside the office, in a casual or social

place such as a restaurant, sporting event, or concert. These can be excellent opportunities for you and

your customer to “let your hair down,” relax, and enjoy each other’s company. Many sales positions

include an entertainment budget for this reason. Taking someone out to eat is not the only part of a selling

relationship, but it’s an important part of building and developing a connection. One sales manager said

that he can tell when one of his salespeople is struggling simply by reviewing his expense reports. He

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looks for activities that take place outside business hours because those are the activities that build

relationships. In fact, according to one study, 71 percent of top-achieving salespeople use entertainment

as a way to get closer to their customers. [20]

Fore Relationships
What makes golf a good way to build a business relationship? During eighteen holes of golf, the typical

golfer actually hits the ball for only two and a half minutes during a four-plus hour round of golf. [21]


You’ve probably heard of e-commerce, selling products and services on the Internet, and m-commerce,

selling products and services via mobile devices such as cell phones and smart phones. But you probably

haven’t heard of r-commerce, a term that refers to relationship marketing, which establishes and builds

mutually beneficial relationships.

Terry L. Brock, an international marketing coach and syndicated columnist, says salespeople have the

opportunity to make the difference in their relationships with the little things. Sending a thank-you note

after a meeting, forwarding an article or video on a topic you discussed, remembering the names of your

customer’s children, even providing a personal suggestion for a vacation spot are all examples of little

things that can set you apart from every other salesperson. You might think that these “little things” aren’t

important when you get into the big world of business. But Harvey Mackay, renowned author, speaker,

and business owner, says it best: “Little things mean a lot? Not true. Little things mean

everything.” [22] Developing your own r-commerce strategy can help set you apart in sales. It’s expected

that you will make phone calls and follow up; it’s the extra personal touch that makes your customer feel

special and helps establish a strong relationship.

It’s the Little Things
Here’s an idea for a small activity that can turn into big opportunity along the way: every day take fifteen

minutes at the beginning of the day to write three notes or e-mails—one to a customer, one to a prospect,

and one to a friend just to say hi, follow up, or send an article of interest. At the end of the week, you will

have made 15 contacts and 750 by the end of the year. What a great way to build relationships by doing

the little things that make you stand out. [23]

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Trust Me

“The check is in the mail.” “The doctor will see you in ten minutes.” “I’ll call you tomorrow.” How many

times have you heard these promises, or ones like them? When people make promises that they don’t

keep, you lose trust in them. It’s unlikely that you will trust a person who doesn’t deliver on what he or she


Trust is a critical element in every relationship. Think again about your best friend. Is she someone you

can trust? If you tell her something in confidence, does she keep it to herself? If you need her for any

reason, will she be there for you? Chances are, you answered “yes,” which is why she is your best friend.

You believe that she will do what she says she will do, and probably more.

You can see why trust is so important in selling. If your customer doesn’t believe that you will actually do

what you say you are going to do, you do not have a future in selling. Trust is built on open and honest

communication. Trust is about building partnerships. Salespeople build trust by following up on their

promises. They are accessible (many times 24/7), and they work to help their customers succeed.

Customers trust you when they believe you have their best interest at heart, not your personal motivation.

According to Tom Reilly, author of the book Value Added Selling, “Consultative selling is less about

technique and more about trust.” Trust is what gives a relationship value. It is the cornerstone of selling.

Trust creates value. In fact, one B2B customer described his salesperson by saying he was like an

employee of the company. Another described her salesperson in terms of problem ownership by saying,

“When we have a problem, he has a problem.” [24] Trust is equally important in B2C selling. For example,

at Zen Lifestyle, a salon in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, the approach to customers is described as soft

sell with a focus on educating customers and providing information. Customers are encouraged to try

products in the smallest size to determine whether they like the product. It is only after they have liked it

that larger and more economical sizes are suggested. “This helps develop a relationship between

customers and therapist built on trust, which in turn will generate future sales from recommendations,”

according to salon owner Fiona Macarthur. [25] In every business, these are all powerful testaments to

great salespeople.

Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople

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Sign of Trust

Imagine not even bringing in product samples or literature with you on your first sales call with a

customer. That’s what Susan Marcus Beohm, a sales manager for a handheld dental instrument

manufacturer suggests. “I don’t go in as a salesperson—I go in looking to see how I can help them. Not

bringing my goods and wares with me says, ‘I’m here to find out what you need,’ and it makes an impact.”

When salespeople are too eager to start talking about features and benefits before they listen to the

customer, they make it more difficult to establish trust. [26]

People buy from people they trust. Consider the fact that customers put their trust in salespeople with

their money and, in the case of business-to-business selling, with their business and ultimately their

reputation. Customers actually become dependent on you, and their buying decisions are actually based

on the fact that they trust you and believe what you say. Thus, the relationship can be even more

important than the product. [27] It is said that you can give a customer the option to buy a product from a

salesperson she knows or buy the same product for 10 percent less from someone she doesn’t know, and

in almost every case she will buy from the salesperson she knows. [28]

Trust is such an important topic that sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer has written a book dedicated to the topic

of gaining and giving trust titled Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Teal Book of Trust: How to Earn It, Grow It,

and Keep It to Become a Trusted Advisor in Sales, Business, and Life.

Underpromise and Overdeliver

One of the tenets of selling is establishing trust and setting expectations. The best salespeople

underpromise and overdeliver. In other words, they say they will do something by a certain day, and then

not only do they do it, but they deliver it one day early. Here’s a way to think about the power of this

approach: if you order a new pair of jeans online and the estimated date of delivery is Tuesday, but you

receive them on Monday, you are delighted. You are pleased that they came early. However, if the jeans

were promised for Tuesday delivery, but they arrived on Wednesday, you would be disappointed and

probably would not trust that Web site for timely delivery in the future. You can imagine how this strategy

builds trust with customers—not only can you rely on the salesperson to do what she said, but she never

lets you down and even delivers earlier than promised sometimes. That’s how trust is built between

salesperson and customer, and the relationship goes to the next level: partnership.

When Times Are Tough

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No one likes to deliver bad news. But it’s not always good news that you will have to tell a customer. The

best antidote for bad news is a good relationship. If you have nurtured your relationship with the

customer and built trust, it is much easier to deliver bad news. When it’s time to deliver bad news, like a

delayed delivery, a cost increase, or a discontinued product line, don’t put it off. Use the same practices

that you use to build your relationships: open, honest, and timely communication.

As soon as you learn about information that may be bad news for your customer, contact her by phone to

discuss the situation: “I realize we set Thursday as the installation date for phase one, but there have been

some delays in development. Can we reschedule it for next Tuesday? I’m confident that everything will be

complete by then. I apologize for any inconvenience. Let’s talk about any challenges this may cause on

your end. I have some ideas about how we might work around them.” The sincerity in your voice and the

dialogue you have with the customer can help avoid turning bad news into a serious problem. Because you

have always made a point of underpromising and overdelivering, there is a high likelihood that your

customer will respond positively to your ownership of the problem and solution-based conversation. It’s

always best to include a realistic solution to the problem and, if you don’t have a solution, let the customer

know exactly when you will get back to her with an update.

Win-Win-Win: The Ultimate Relationship

If you do volunteer work for an organization such as Autism Speaks, you get involved because you believe

in raising awareness of autism to increase funds for research for the cure. Those who have autism and

their families benefit from your involvement. This is win #1. You also benefit because you gain the

satisfaction of helping people. This is win #2. You help build the strength of the organization, in this case,

Autism Speaks. The more people that are involved, the more people they can reach with their message,

and the more money they can raise to reach their goal of curing autism. This is win #3.

The above example is an illustration of the win-win-win concept in relationships. In other words, in the

ultimate relationship, all parties have something to give and something to gain. This same win-win-win

occurs in successful selling relationships. Your customer wins because he gets your advice and expertise to

help him find a product or service that meets his needs. You win because you have enhanced your

relationship and made a sale; and your company wins because the relationship, the sale, and the repeat

sales help it achieve its goals.

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Although the win-win-win may sound like a simple concept, it is a critical one to keep in mind in any

business position, especially in selling. This art of collaboration actually results in more business with

your existing customers because you have become a partner in solving their problems, and it brings you

new business in the form of referrals. The win-win-win also plays a significant role in the negotiating

process (covered in ). The best business relationships and negotiations are based on the win-win-win

model, not the win-lose model in which one party loses so that the other can win. [29]

A Seat at the Table

The seat at the table is given to those salespeople who deliver value, not sell products or services. They

develop the relationship to assist customers in implementing their business strategies. [30]Customers want

value in the form of strategic thinking around issues that are important to them and their company goals.

As a result, your goal as a salesperson should be to help your customers create demand, secure a

competitive advantage, and identify a new niche. When you deliver this kind of value, your customers will

no longer see you as a salesperson; they will see you as a “business person who sells.” It’s this kind of

thinking and value creation that earn you a seat at the table. The seat at the table also helps you expand

your business because you will be integrated into your customer’s business. That allows you to deliver

your core products or services and be a part of developing the new opportunities. It helps cement the

relationship and establishes a partnership that delivers value for all involved. [31]

Every salesperson wants “a seat at the table”; she wants to be a part of the decision-making process. That

is the epitome of consultative selling: you are included in the process from the beginning. You want to be

included as a valued partner with your business-to-business customers to discuss their company’s

strategic questions like “How will we grow our business in the next three years while technology is driving

down the average selling price of our product?” “How can we extend our relationship with our customers

beyond our contract period?” or “How can we expand to new markets and minimize our risk?” These are

not traditional sales questions; they are strategic issues that companies wrestle with. When you are a true

partner with your customers, you will be given a seat at the table when direction-setting issues are

discussed. This allows you to participate fully as a trusted advisor and asset to the customer and to help

shape the strategy of the company. It changes your relationship with the contact and the company from

salesperson to partner. Although it may seem like a lofty goal, consider this: If you want to have a seat at

the table, not only will you need to solve your customer’s problems and anticipate her needs, but

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according to Tim Conner, sales trainer and author, you will also need to be a creative problem creator.

That means that you will be in constant pursuit of identifying problems that your customer didn’t even

know she had. In other words, it means that you have to think ahead of your customer, not just along with

her. [32]

Networking: Relationships That Work for You

You probably use Facebook frequently to keep in touch with your friends. If you want to know who took a

particular course with a particular professor, you can ask your friends on Facebook. If none of your

friends took the course, one of their friends may have taken it and could give you some insight about the

course and the professor. Whether you realize it or not, you are networking.

Networking is the art of building alliances or mutually beneficial relationships. [33] In fact, networking is

all about relationships and exchange. In the example above, while you are looking for feedback on a class

from someone you know, someone else may be considering seeing a movie and wants to know if you’ve

seen it and if you thought it was good. This is a value exchange. Although networking isn’t exactly quid

pro quo (something for something), it does include the element of exchange: if someone is looking for

something, someone else can provide the information. What makes the network function is the fact that

people in the network at some point have a need and at some point may be able to help someone else with

his need. Said another way, networking is based on mutual generosity. [34]

Networking is an important part of the business world and an even more vital part of sales. It’s no longer a

question of “if” you should network; it’s a requirement to stay competitive because it’s virtually impossible

to do your job alone. Just as in social networking, professional networking allows you to leverage the

people you know to expand your relationship to people you don’t know. Building strong relationships with

customers is an excellent way to build your network. Satisfied customers will refer you to other people

who might become potential customers.

It’s best to always be networking rather than networking only when you want something. It makes it

easier to network and expand your relationships when you’re not asking for something. It also gives you

the opportunity to help someone else first, which can go a long way when you need help in the future.

Networking Tips of the Trade

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Today, networking can be done in person as well as online. Don’t limit yourself to just one method.

Networking is best done both in person and online to be truly effective. Here are a few tips for

networking in person.

Start with People You Know

Make a list of all the people you know, starting with your current customers, family, friends, friends’

family, and others. Include people such as your hair stylist, car mechanic, and others. Get to know

everyone in your extended network as each can be a lead for a potential sale or even a job. [35]

Join and Get Involved in Professional Organizations

If you want to meet people who are in the same business or profession as you, professional organizations

such as Sales & Marketing Executives International, Advertising Club of New York, Home Builder’s

Association, and so on are the best places to be. Joining is good, but getting involved in one of the

committees is even better. It helps demonstrate your skills and knowledge to the other people in the

organization. Since most professional organizations are made up of volunteers, it’s usually easy to be

invited to participate on a committee. [36]

Attend Industry Events

Make an effort to attend industry or other professional events. Arrive early and work the room. If you

come with someone, be sure to branch out to meet and mingle with other people. Set a time and a place to

meet the person with whom you came so you can both maximize your networking. According to Peter

Handel, the chairman and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, a smile can be your greatest asset when

networking in person. He suggests always asking questions of the people you meet; it helps keep

conversation going and gives you more insight into their background and how you might work together in

the future. But the other side of asking questions is listening; that’s how you will learn. And always have

your business cards handy. Give out your business card to those you talk to, and don’t forget to get their

business cards, too. [37]

Keep in Touch

Many people think that networking is just about collecting business cards. Networking is so much more

than that. Networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships. It’s best to use one of the basic

practices for building relationships when networking: keeping in touch. That means dropping an e-mail to

someone with whom you have networked just to find out how their big project is going, how their twins’

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birthday celebration went, or even just to say hi. Go beyond the e-mail by inviting someone to lunch. It’s

the perfect way to build a relationship, share common ground, and learn more about the person.[38] Many

people are gung ho about networking and meeting people, but rarely keep in touch. It almost defeats the

purpose of networking if you don’t keep in touch.

Online Professional Social Networking

Online professional social networking can be an equally powerful tool to build your contacts. But just like

networking in person, you can’t be passive and expect to expand your network. Consider a situation that

Austin Hill, Internet entrepreneur and founder of the angel investment firm Brudder Ventures,

encountered when his firm was trying to get access to someone in a specific department at a vendor. It

was a large company, and he kept getting the runaround. But after going onto LinkedIn and getting

introductions to the right people, within two days they were able to start doing business with the

company. [39]

Create a Profile on the Major Professional Social Networks

LinkedIn, Ryze, ZoomInfo, and Plaxo are all online professional social networks that have a substantial

number of members. You can also use Facebook MySpace, and Twitter to create profiles, peruse job

boards, and join the conversation.

Join The Power of Selling Group on LinkedIn
You can join the conversation about careers in sales created for this course on LinkedIn.

Visit and go

to Or go to “Search Groups,” search

for “The Power of Selling,” select it from the groups that are displayed, and click on “Join Group.” Once

you’ve joined the group, you can connect with sales professionals and other students across the country.

You will be able to listen to the conversation, ask questions, and start or join discussions. This group is an

excellent way to network and find people who work at companies that you may want to work at.

Start your professional networking now and network with sales professionals that want to help you.


The Power of Selling Group

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Connect to People You Know, Then Network Personally
The number of connections you have is not a badge of honor. Take the time to connect to all the people

you know, and network within their networks. If you only add people for the sake of having a lot of

connections, you won’t know who can really help you in your network. When you do make a connection,

make it personal; don’t just send a group invitation to join your network. It’s always best to keep in mind

that the foundation of your network is relationships. [40]

Be Proactive

Ask for introductions to people with whom you want to network and ask your boss, colleagues, and

customers to write recommendations for you. It’s a good idea to use the features included on the

professional social networking sites such as groups, discussions, and “Answers” on LinkedIn, which

allows you to ask questions of your network. [41]

Mind Your Manners

Just a word of caution about professional social networking: Be professional in all of your

communications. You are participating in a professional forum so be aware that everything you “say” and

do reflects on you and your company.

• Consultative selling is the process by which you get to know a customer personally, understand her

needs, and put her needs first in the relationship.

• Relationships are vital to success in most selling situations. When you understand what the customer

wants and needs, you can provide solutions to help your customer meet his goals.

• Lifetime value is a term that refers to the amount of business that you do with a single customer over the

course of the relationship. When you have a long-term view of your relationships with customers, you

have an opportunity to realize even greater success.

• R-commerce, or establishing and developing relationships with customers, focuses on the “little things”

you can do to take advantage of opportunities and set yourself apart.

• Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a relationship.

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• A solid relationship is essential, especially when delivering bad news. Always be honest and timely with

customers when you have to communicate news that might not be what they want to hear. They will

respect you and trust you for it.

• The win-win-win is when all parties in a relationship win: your customer, you, and your company or


• Networking, the art of building mutually beneficial relationships, is an indispensable business tool.

1. Identify a situation in which a salesperson has developed a relationship with you. Do you trust her more

since you know her better? Identify at least one way she puts your needs first in the relationship.

2. Name a situation in which a salesperson provided you with information to make your purchasing decision.

Did you trust him to provide this information? Why did you trust him?

3. Think about a situation in which a salesperson underpromised and overdelivered. How did your

perception of the salesperson and the company change because of your experience?

4. Go to and create your profile. Then use the search box to search groups and

search for “The Power of Selling.” Click on the “Members” tab and search for members that you want to

connect with and add them to your professional network. Click on the “Discussions” tab to begin or join

into a discussion.

5. Research professional organizations that might be of interest to you that have a chapter on campus or in

your local community. What is the mission of each organization? What events are scheduled soon? How

can you become a student member of the organization?

6. [1] Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding

Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 22.

7. [2] Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding

Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 28.

8. [3] Claire Sykes, “Relationship Selling,” Surface Fabrication 12, no. 1 (January–February 2006): 58.

9. [4] Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding

Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 16.

10. [5] Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding

Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 20.

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11. [6] Jeffrey Gitomer, “The Difference between an Account and a Relationship,” Long Island Business News,

August 3, 2007,

relationship/ (accessed June 29, 2009).

12. [7] Jim Sullivan and Phil Roberts, Service That Sells! The Art of Profitable Hospitality(Denver: Pencom

Press, 1991), 151.

13. [8] Howard Lax, “Fun, Fun, Fun in a Customer Experience Way,” Banking Strategies 84, no. 6 (November–

December 2008): 64.

14. [9] “Johnson Controls Runs Boot Camp,” Heating & Refrigeration News 233, no. 6 (April 14, 2008).

15. [10] Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29.

16. [11] Demmie Hicks, “The Power of Consultative Selling,” Rough Notes 151, no. 7 (July 2008): 701.

17. [12] Cathy Berch, “Consultative Selling: Ask, Don’t Tell,” Community Banker 18, no. 4 (April 2009): 261.

18. [13] Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29.

19. [14] Brad Perriello, “Relationship—Selling at its Best,” Industrial Distribution 97, no. 9 (September 2008):


20. [15] Cathy Berch, “Don’t Wing It,” Community Banker 18, no. 2 (February 2009): 18.

21. [16] Michael Gray, “How Do You Determine Customer Lifetime Value?” Profit Advisors, May 20,

1999, (accessed November 30, 2009).

22. [17] Claire Sykes, “Relationship Selling,” Surface Fabrication 12, no. 1 (January–February 2006): 58.

23. [18], “CRM (Customer Relationship

Management),” (accessed November 30, 2009).

24. [19] Susi Geiger and Darach Turley, “The Perceived Impact of Information Technology on Salespeople’s

Relational Competencies,” Journal of Marketing Management 22, no. 7 (August 2006): 827.

25. [20] Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29.

26. [21] “How to Use Golf as a Business Tool,” video, BNET,

323018.html (accessed July 27, 2009).

27. [22] Terry L. Brock, “Relationship-Building Skills Pay Off for Your Bottom Line,”Philadelphia Business

Journal, June 12–18, 2009, 25.

28. [23] Andrea Nierenberg, “Eight Ways to Say ‘Thank You’ to Customers,” Manage Smarter, February 6,

2009, (accessed July 3, 2009).

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29. [24] Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29.

30. [25] Annette Hanford, “Best Sellers Tell All,” Health & Beauty Salon 25, no. 12 (December 2003): 50.

31. [26] “A Foundation Built on Trust,” Selling Power Sales Management eNewsletter, August 8,

2001, (accessed March 16, 2010).

32. [27] Brian Tracy, “Teaming Up with Your Customers,” Agency Sales 34, no. 2 (February 2004): 59.

33. [28] “Building Trust,” Selling Power Presentations Newsletter, February 25,

2002, (accessed March 16, 2010).

34. [29] Stephen R. Covey, “Win-Win Strategies,” Training 45, no. 1 (January 2008): 56.

35. [30] J. D. Williams, Robert Everett, and Elizabeth Rogol, “Will the Human Factors of Relationship Selling

Survive in the Twenty-First Century?” International Journal of Commerce & Management 19, no. 2 (2009):


36. [31] Marc Miller, “A Seat at the Table,” American Salesman 54, no. 5 (May 2009): 9.

37. [32] Tim Conner, “Sales Strategies of Six-Figure Salespeople,”, (accessed June 29, 2009).

38. [33] “What Is Networking?” The Riley Guide, (accessed

July 3, 2009).

39. [34] Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11,

2007, July

3, 2009).

40. [35] Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11,

2007, July

3, 2009).

41. [36] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 176.

42. [37] Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11,

2007, July

3, 2009).

43. [38] Donna Rosato, “Networking for People Who Hate to Network,”, April 3,

2009, (access

ed July 3, 2009).

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44. [39] Lisa LaMotta, “How to Network Like a Pro Online,” Forbes, August 9,


cx_ll_0809networking.html (accessed July 3, 2009).

45. [40] Clare Dight, “How to Network Online,” Times Online, February 21,


2745.ece (accessed July 3, 2009).

46. [41] Lisa LaMotta, “How to Network Like a Pro Online,” Forbes, August 9,


cx_ll_0809networking.html (accessed July 3, 2009).

3.2 Putting Adaptive Selling to Work

1. Explain the concept of adaptive selling and how to use it.

2. Understand how the social style matrix can help you be more effective in sales.

Adaptive selling occurs when a salesperson adapts, changes, and customizes her selling style based on

the situation and the behavior of the customer. [1]Adaptive selling allows you to truly listen,

understand the customer’s needs, and then adapt your conversation and presentation accordingly.

On the other hand, if you were giving a canned presentation, you wouldn’t be able to learn what the

customer thinks is important. For example, if you were selling landscaping to a customer, you

wouldn’t know if the customer wanted the landscaping to provide privacy or create a view. The only

way you would find out is by listening, asking questions, and adapting your recommendations and

presentation accordingly. Adaptive selling is much easier to do when you establish a relationship

with the customer.

Adaptive selling takes place in many situations in business and in life. It is the selling skill that allows

you to adapt your communications to a person or situation. Chances are you already use adaptive

selling in your everyday life, but you may not realize it. Do you approach your parents differently

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than your friends? Do you speak to a professor differently than you do to your roommate? These are

examples of adaptive selling.

It’s also likely that you interact with each of your friends differently. Do you have a friend that needs

tons of information to make a decision, while another friend makes a decision in an instant? Do you

know people who want to talk about their decisions before and after they make them and those who

just decide and don’t say a word? Understanding diversity, or the different ways people behave, is the

cornerstone of adaptive selling.

The Social Style Matrix

What makes people so different in their style, perceptions, and approaches to things is defined in

the social style matrix. It is an established method that helps you understand how people behave so you

can adapt your selling style accordingly. The social style matrix is based on patterns of communication

behavior identified by David Merril and Roger Reid. [2] It plots social behavior based on two dimensions:

assertiveness and responsiveness. In the matrix below, the x axis is assertiveness, which indicates the

degree to which a person wants to dominate or control the thoughts of others. The y axis represents

responsiveness, which is the degree to which a person outwardly displays emotions or feelings in a

relationship. [3] In Figure 3.4 “Social Style Matrix”, you can see the four quadrants; each quadrant

represents one of four social styles:analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive. Each of these styles

describes a different type of behavior. [4]

Figure 3.4 Social Style Matrix [5]

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Each of the social styles has specific characteristics that are important to keep in mind as you prepare and

present your sales presentation. Adapting to someone’s social style demonstrates the law of psychological

reciprocity, which says that when you adapt to someone’s style, that person will move toward your style.

In short, you are inspiring trust by acting according to the old adage of the golden rule. [6] So, whether you

are asking to borrow your mother’s car or asking someone on a date, understanding the social style matrix

is important to get the result you want.

Analyticals: They Want to Know “How”

Do you know someone who only wants the facts to make a decision? Perhaps it’s your father or mother or

a professor. Analyticals are all about the facts. They are defined by low responsiveness and low

assertiveness. In other words, they like to hear about the pros and cons and all the details before they

decide. They are likely to have a financial or technical background, and they pride themselves on being an

expert in their field. They want to hear about the tangible results, timelines, and details before they make

a decision. In fact, they are the ones who will actually read the directions before they put together a new

grill or set up a wireless home network. They are so focused on facts that they prefer to disregard personal

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opinions in their decision making. They like to understand all the facts before they decide so they know

exactly how the product, service, or contract arrangement will work. [7]

You might have some visual cues that will help you identify an analytical. She probably dresses

conservatively and has her achievement awards proudly displayed on her office wall. She is organized and

focused on work activities. [8]

If you are selling to a customer who is an analytical, she will ask you very specific questions about all the

details, and she will respond positively if you make her feel as if she is right. In other words, don’t

challenge her facts and point of view. Rather, provide history, data, financial details, and other facts in an

organized, structured format. She will ask many questions so that she clearly understands the product or

service. Since it’s important for her to make the right decision, she will take the time to gather all the facts.

Because she puts so much effort into making the right decision, she tends to be loyal to the people from

whom she buys, believing she doesn’t need to reevaluate the same facts.

Adapt your style to an analytical by focusing on the “how.” Slow down your presentation and let her take it

all in; don’t make her feel rushed. Use facts, historical data, and details to be sure she has all the

information she needs to make the decision. Use guarantees or warranties to reduce any perceived risk.

Give her the time she needs to analyze, evaluate, and decide. [9]

Drivers: They Want to Know “What”

You’ve probably watched Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts

play football on television or the Internet. One of the traits that makes him a champion is the fact that he

is focused exclusively on winning each game. When he is on the field, everything else is in second place in

his mind. Peyton Manning is a driver.

Drivers have some characteristics that are the same as analyticals in that they like to have all the facts to

make their decision. However, drivers are different from analyticals because they make decisions quickly.

On the social style matrix, they are in the low responsiveness, high assertiveness quadrant. These are the

people who are “control freaks”; they are decisive and controlling. They work with people because they

have to; they see other people only as a means to their end of achievement. They are smart, focused,

independent, and competitive. They have little regard for the opinions of others; a driver is rarely

described as a “people person.” They are high achievers who are in a hurry to meet their goals. [10] They

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don’t want facts just for the sake of having them; they want relevant information that will help them

decide quickly.

Like the analyticals, drivers dress conservatively and display their achievement awards on the wall of their

office. A calendar is usually prominent to keep focus on how long it will take to achieve something.

Because they are not focused on the feelings or attitudes of other people, drivers usually do business

across the desk rather than on the same side of the desk. [11]

The best way to adapt to a driver is to be professional and to the point. Don’t spend too much time on

small talk; get to the point quickly. Provide options so that he can feel as if he is in control. Include a

timeline so he can see how quickly he can get results.

Amiables: They Want to Know “Why”

Actress Reese Witherspoon was recently named the Honorary Chairperson of the Avon Foundation for

Women because of her ability to unite women around the cause of breast cancer. [12] She rallies people and

brings them together by focusing on the greater good, but she doesn’t assert herself. She is an amiable.

An amiable is most likely to be described as a “people person.” Amiables are team players who focus on

innovation and long-term problem solving. They value relationships and like to engage with people whom

they feel they can trust. They are less controlling than drivers and more people oriented than analyticals

because they are in the low assertiveness, high responsiveness quadrant of the matrix.

Amiables provide some visual clues because their offices are typically open and friendly. They often

display pictures of family, and they prefer to work in an open environment rather than sitting across the

desk from you. They tend to have a personal style in their dress, being casual or less conservative than

analytics or drivers. [13]

When you are presenting to an amiable, establish a personal relationship. She will be more likely to

discuss issues with you. When you demonstrate your personal commitment, she will be open to doing

business with you.

Expressives: They Want to Know “Who”

An expressive is intuitive, charismatic, persuasive, nurturing, and engaging. Oprah Winfrey is an

expressive; she has excellent rapport with people, even people she has never met. Relationships are

important to her, but only to help her achieve her higher goal of giving her viewers inspiration and a

better way to live their lives.

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Expressives are creative and can see the big picture clearly; they have a vision and use their style to

communicate it and inspire people. They don’t get caught up in the day-to-day details. Expressives build

relationships to gain power, so people like employees, viewers, or voters are very important to them.

Status and recognition are also important to them.

Since expressives are not big on details, you might find their offices to be a bit disorganized, even

cluttered and messy. Their offices are set up in an open format, as they would prefer to sit next to you

rather than across the desk from you. They avoid conservative dress and are more casual with their

personal style. They want to engage with you and talk about the next big idea. [14]

When you are selling to an expressive, take extra time to discuss everything. Give them recognition and

approval. Appeal to their emotions by asking them how they feel about the product or service; focus on

the big picture of what is possible as a result of buying your product or service. If you try to dazzle them

with facts and figures, you won’t get very far.

Table 3.1 Selling Style Summary
Social Style You’re Selling to How to Adapt


• Focus on “how”

• Include facts

• Communicate the pros and cons

• Provide history, data, financial details

• Don’t challenge her facts

• Demonstrate results

• Mention guarantees and warranties

• Give her time to decide


• Focus on “what”

• Get to the point quickly

• Provide options

• Use facts

• Focus on results

• Provide timelines

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Social Style You’re Selling to How to Adapt

• Make him feel as if he is in control


• Focus on “why”

• Establish a personal relationship

• Demonstrate personal commitment

• Work as a team


• Focus on “who”

• Take extra time to discuss everything

• Give her recognition and approval

• Ask her how she feels about the product or service

• Focus on the big picture

• Use facts and figures to demonstrate what is possible

Source: Todd Duncan, “Your Sales Style,” Incentive, December 1, 1999, 64–66.

What Is Your Selling Style?

Before you think about the social styles of other people, you might find it helpful to think about your own

social style. Are you very emotional when you express your opinions, or are you more reserved and

formal? Are you the type of person who agrees with everyone, or are you extremely interested in the

details? You might want to take a few minutes to take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter to understand

your social style. But don’t stop here; visit your campus career center as it most likely offers several

assessment tools that can help you identify your social style.
Take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter to Determine Your Social Style

It would be easy to get stuck in your own style preference. But getting out of your comfort zone and

adapting quickly to your customer’s style preference can make the difference between a sale and a “no

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thanks.” It’s important to note that most people are a combination of styles, but when you understand the

basic behaviors of each style and how to adapt, you can increase your chances for success. [15]

• Adaptive selling occurs when you adapt and customize your selling style based on the behavior of the


• The social style matrix is based on patterns of communication that characterize communication behavior

based on two dimensions: assertiveness and responsiveness.

• Analyticals focus on facts, details, and analysis to decide but are reserved in their interactions with

people. They want to know the “how.”

• Drivers are similar to analyticals in that they like facts, but only the ones that will quickly help them

achieve their goals. They are people who are in a hurry and don’t really care about personal relationships,

except as a means to their goal. They want to know the “what.”

• Amiables focus on personal relationships in their communication style. They like to agree with everyone

and focus on team building. They want to know the “why.”

• Expressives enjoy building relationships, but don’t like focusing on day-to-day details; they like to paint a

vision and inspire everyone to follow it. They like to focus on the “who.”

• Most people use a combination of styles, depending on the situation.

1. Think about your professor for this course. What social style would you use if you went to see her about

your grade on the midterm exam? Discuss why you would choose this style.

2. Using the social matrix in this section, identify a situation in which you would use each style. Discuss why

you would choose the style for each situation.

3. For each of the following situations, identify the social style of the buyer and suggest how you

would adapt to appeal to the buyer:

o You are a salesperson for a floral wholesaler. Your customer owns a flower shop. When you arrive

to meet her you notice her office is a bit messy (in fact, you can’t understand how she finds

anything), but she is very cordial and takes the time to hear about your product.

o You are a salesperson for a company that specializes in social networking software for retailers.

Your customer is the chief information officer for a growing online retailer. He was very precise

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about the meeting time and agenda. You hope you can establish rapport with him quickly as he

was a bit brusque on the phone.

o You are a commercial real estate agent. Your customer is the founder and CEO of a start-up Web

site development company. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she describes her vision for the

company and her office needs for the next five years.

4. [1] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 151.

5. [2] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 155.

6. [3] Rick English, “Finding Your Selling Style,” San Diego State University, Marketing 377 class notes,

chapter 5, July 7, 2009).

7. [4] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 151.

8. [5] Todd Duncan, “Your Sales Style,” Incentive, December 1, 1999, 64–66.

9. [6] Ron Zemke, “Trust Inspires Trust,” Training 10, January 1, 2002.

10. [7] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 158.

11. [8] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 159.

12. [9] Sandra Bearden, “The Psychology of Sales: Savvy Selling Means Tailoring to Type,” UAB Magazine 20,

no. 2 (Fall 2000), (accessed February 13, 2010).

13. [10] Rick English, “Finding Your Selling Style,” San Diego State University, Marketing 377 class notes,

chapter 5, July 7, 2009).

14. [11] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 158.

15. [12] Avon Foundation for Women, “Reese Witherspoon Joins Avon Foundation for Women and San

Francisco General Hospital to Celebrate 5th Anniversary of Avon Comprehensive Breast Center,” press

release, May 11, 2009, (accessed July

8, 2009).

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16. [13] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 159.

17. [14] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 159.

18. [15] Todd Duncan, “Your Sales Style,” Incentive, December 1, 1999, 64–66.

3.3 Selling U: Networking—The Hidden Job Market

1. Understand the role of relationships and networking in your job search.

Did you know that 80 percent of jobs are filled through networking? [1]Networking is sometimes

referred to as the “hidden job market” because many jobs are filled before they are ever posted. This

is true now more than ever because of the challenging economy. Traffic at job boards like,, and Yahoo! HotJobs is up 37 percent over last year, which means

that companies are deluged with résumés. Despite the influx in résumés, companies are using more

networking—traditional and online—to fill their open jobs. In fact, about 50 percent of Facebook’s

new hires come from referrals from existing employees. According to Molly Graham, manager of

Facebook Human Resources and Recruitment, “One of our main philosophies is to get smart and

talented people. They tend to be connected.”

Zappos, a billion-dollar online retailer of shoes and apparel that was recently purchased by Amazon,

has taken employee referrals to the next level and has implemented software that lets employees use

their LinkedIn and Twitter contacts. The software uses an algorithm to identify people who might

have a skill set and experience match for open positions and then allows employees to invite the

prospective candidate to apply. [2]

So now you can see why networking can be a very effective method to potentially learn about or land

the job you want. But you might be wondering where you start and exactly how you network

effectively. Like everything else in selling, you need to develop a plan.

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Create a Networking Plan

Before you start, it’s a good idea to review exactly what networking is and what it isn’t. Just as in selling,

networking is about building relationships that are mutually beneficial; it is about the exchange of value

between people, usually over the course of time. Someone might help you now, and you might help that

same person or someone else later. It requires a relationship and ongoing commitment. Networking isn’t

a quick, easy way to get a job. Although it can be instrumental in helping you get a job, it isn’t easy, and it

might not be quick. You should approach networking for the long term and realize that you will help some

people and some people will help you. You have the power to help other people and to ask for help; that’s

how networking works. To help guide you, here are six power networking tips.

Power Networking Tip #1: Network with Confidence

Don’t think of networking as begging for a job. Start building relationships with people—family, friends,

professors, and executives—now. That will give you the opportunity to build relationships and potentially

help someone even before you begin your job search. When you do begin networking to find a job, be

yourself and get to know as many people as possible using the methods described earlier in the chapter

(e.g., professional organizations, events). Keep in mind that you may have the opportunity one day to help

the person with whom you are networking, so network with confidence. [3] You will be surprised at how

many people are willing to help you because you ask. The fact is people want to help you; they want to see

you succeed.

Power Networking Tip #2: Join Professional Organizations

There’s no better place to meet people you want to work with than to go where they go. Professional

organizations such as your local chapter of Sales & Marketing Executives International, American

Marketing Association, Entrepreneurs Organization, Public Relations Society of America, and others

provide the perfect environment to meet people in the industry in which you want to work. Start by

exploring the professional organizations on campus. Many are local chapters of national organizations

designed to encourage students to get involved. If you don’t know which organization is best for you, ask a

professor; she will be happy to provide some insight. Or go to a meeting and check it out; most

organizations allow nonmembers to attend at least one meeting or event at no charge. A good number of

professional organizations offer student membership rates that are designed for student budgets. Besides

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providing an excellent method to network, being a member of a professional organization also enhances

your résumé.

But don’t just join—get involved. You can impress people with your skills, drive, and work ethic by getting

involved in a committee, planning an event, working on the organization’s Web site, or other project. It’s a

great way to build your experience and your résumé and impress prospective employers. At the same

time, you can be developing professional references to speak on your behalf.

Power Networking Tip #3: Create Your Networking List

Networking, like selling, is personal. So make a list of all the people you know with whom you can

network. Don’t disqualify anyone because you think they can’t help. You never know who knows someone

who might be the link to your next job. Follow the same strategy for your personal networking as you

would use for networking for selling: write down the four Fs—friends, family, friends’ family, and family’s

friends using a format like the example shown in Table 3.2 “Sample Networking List”. [4] But don’t stop

there; include your manicurist, insurance agent, hairstylist, and anyone else with whom you have a

relationship. Don’t forget to visit your school alumni office. It’s always easier to start networking with

people with whom you already have a relationship.

Table 3.2 Sample Networking List

Name Relationship E-Mail Phone
Date of
Contact Follow-Up Date


Dad’s friend at

Crane, Inc. [email protected]


787-9121 March 4

Need to touch

base again at end

of the month

Jennings Mom’s friend [email protected]


231-0098 March 6

Early April (April



Dad’s friend at

Polk & Polk [email protected]




10 March 17

Johnson Hairstylist

Not available; will talk to her on

my next appointment


765-0120 April 7

To be


based on first


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Name Relationship E-Mail Phone
Date of
Contact Follow-Up Date


Director of

Alumni Relations

at school [email protected]


5555 ext.




To be


based on first



General Sales

Manager, Castle

Controls [email protected]







To be


based on first


Power Networking Tip #4: Know What to Say

Everyone tells you to do networking, but after you create your list, what do you say? You will be delivering

your brand message to everyone with whom you are networking, so be specific about what you are looking

for. Always take the opportunity to expand your network by asking for the names of other people whom

you might contact. For example, assume you are networking with Vera, a friend of the family:


I really enjoy marketing and advertising. In fact, I’m looking for an internship at an advertising

agency in account management. Do you know of anyone who might be looking for an intern for

the summer?

Vera: I don’t really know anyone at an advertising agency.

Thanks. I was wondering if you might know anyone who might know someone who works at an

advertising agency.

You will be surprised at how many people may be able to give you the name of someone you can contact.

Not everyone will give you a name, but if you don’t ask, most people won’t think about whom they might


You might also network with someone who gives you the name of someone to contact. For example,


I’m going to graduate from State College in May with a degree in business administration. I really

enjoy the idea of helping people increase their company’s sales, so I’m looking for a job in selling.

Do you know of anyone who might have an opportunity in sales?

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Have you talked to anyone at Universal Parts? They have a great training program, and the sales

reps get a company car. You might want to touch base with Chris Reddy, who is one of the sales

managers. I can give you his contact information.

You: Jon, I really appreciate your help. Can I mention your name when I contact him?

Jon: Sure. Chris is a great leader and is always looking for good people.

When you contact Chris Reddy, it’s best to make contact by phone, if possible. That way you have an

opportunity to create a relationship (remember how important relationships are in selling, especially

when you are selling yourself). A phone call might start like this:
You: Hello, Chris. My name is Rakeem Bateman. Jon Keller suggested I give you a call.

Chris: Hello Rakeem. Jon and I have known each other for several years. How do you know Jon?


I met him at a Sales & Marketing Executives International event last week. He was one of the

speakers. I enjoyed hearing what he had to say so much that I stayed to talk to him after the

event. I’m going to graduate from State College in May with a degree in business administration. I

really enjoy the idea of helping people increase their company’s sales, so I’m looking for a job in

selling. Jon suggested that I touch base with you to find out if Universal Parts might be looking to

expand their sales organization.

If someone has referred you, always include that as part of your introduction. If your networking takes

place via e-mail, you should do the same thing. When you send your résumé to someone with whom you

are networking via e-mail, it’s best to include your three bullet points from your cover letter as the body of

the e-mail (review the Selling U section in Chapter 2 “The Power to Choose Your Path: Careers in Sales”).

That allows the person to whom you are sending the letter to see at a glance that he wants to open your

résumé. In most cases the person to whom you are sending your résumé is forwarding it to someone else.

Writing a short, easy-to-skim note helps tell every recipient what you have to offer. For example,

see Figure 3.5 “Sample E-mail for Networking” for a sample e-mail to Chris Reddy.

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Figure 3.5 Sample E-mail for Networking

You can see that when you are networking you want to focus on being specific about what you are looking

for, asking for names of people with whom you might network, and creating a relationship with those


Power Networking Tip #5: Online Professional Social Networking

Social networking sites can be a more powerful job search tool than most people realize, and their power

can go both ways: The sites can work in your favor, but they can also work against you. When you’re

preparing to apply for jobs, keep in mind that a growing number of employers search social networking

sites like Facebook and MySpace to weed out applicants who might not fit with their company culture. In

fact, 22 percent of employers claim to use social networking sites when considering potential hires, and of

those employers, 34 percent said they chose not to hire a candidate based on the information they had

dug up about that person online. [5] One human resources manager based in Seattle, says she has turned

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down an otherwise promising job candidate’s application on a number of occasions after visiting the

applicant’s networking profile. “Sometimes there are compromising photos or videos posted out there

where anyone can find them,” she says. “When that happens, those applications go right in the

trash.” [6] You can find out all kinds of things about a person from his MySpace profile that you couldn’t

necessarily learn from his cover letter or résumé! As social networking expert Patrice-Anne Rutledge says,

before you go on the job market, make sure you “get rid of your digital dirt.” In particular, look through

any videos or photographs you may have uploaded to your profile, any Web sites you may have linked to,

and any personal information you reveal that may be controversial or reflect on you in a negative light. [7]

You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
Clean Up Your Pages

“Get rid of your digital dirt” [8] now, before you even start applying for jobs. Your Facebook or MySpace

profile could negatively impact your chances of getting a job at your chosen company. Gauge the

appropriateness of the videos, photographs, and comments on your pages and decide whether it would be

a problem if a potential employer saw them. Many employers will search your social networking profiles

to learn the things your résumé and cover letter don’t reveal.

On the other hand, professional social networking sites are tools you can leverage to great advantage in

your job search if you use them proactively. LinkedIn is the biggest and most frequently used networking

site, but there are a number of others, including Jobster, Ryze, ZoomInfo, and Plaxo, that allow you to

create a professional profile and find contacts in your target industry or at target companies. [9] Although

it’s easy to create an account on these sites, you won’t get the full benefit unless you do two things: make

the effort to keep your profile up-to-date and make the effort to grow your network. Here are a few social

networking tips to keep in mind:

• Make yourself stand out. Think about the skills and qualities that make you unique. What sets you

apart as your own distinctive brand? Your online networking profile should reflect this. Don’t just

reproduce your résumé; make your profile into your “elevator speech,” highlighting your interests and

using power words to describe your experience and talents. Your network profile is searchable on

Google, so give some thought to the keywords you use to describe yourself. [10]

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• Publicize your profile. LinkedIn allows you to search your e-mail address book for contacts that

also have accounts, so you can easily grow your network. You should also be willing to ask people you

know in your industry, including professors and mentors, to join your network. These people are well

connected and want to see you succeed. In addition, you can start using your LinkedIn profile badge

on outgoing e-mails, and, if you have one, on your Web site. When you publicize yourself this way,

people will start linking to you. [11] Many companies and recruiters are accelerating their use of

LinkedIn. “We could not believe the candidates we got” from LinkedIn, says Scott Morrison, director

of global recruiting programs at software giant [12]

• Ask for recommendations. As you begin to build a professional network online, you can use it the

same way you would use a regular social network. Ask people for recommendations of your work and

for referrals to new contacts. Maybe a former professor knows the marketing manager at a company

where you want to work; ask her to introduce you. Making a request like this can be terrifying at first,

but have confidence. Keep in mind that your professors, mentors, and fellow professionals want to

help you, and when they can help you, they will. But you won’t get the help if you don’t ask for it.

• Join groups. Start by joining The Power of Selling group on LinkedIn. Sites like LinkedIn have

thousands of groups that are specific to interest, location, hobbies, and industry. Join your local

professional group—the Chicago Sales and Marketing Executives group, for instance—and join your

school’s alumni association. Your alumni group is an extremely important connection to make

because people are almost always eager to help their fellow alumni succeed. But don’t stop there;

search for other groups that are in the industry you want to pursue. You can just listen to the

conversation and then jump in when you feel comfortable.

• Create content. Think about when you are considering making a major purchase. What do you do?

You probably conduct research online to determine the pros and cons of each alternative. Employers

do the same thing, so be sure your profile is compelling and up-to-date. In addition, use your social

networking pages to create content to demonstrate your skills. For example, write a blog and link it to

your Facebook page or post tweets on Twitter about a project on which you are working, a topic about

which you are passionate, or even your job search. Get people to follow you and engage in the

dialogue. Direct them to your personal Web site, samples of your work, or the content you have

created. Social networking gives you the opportunity to show and sell with content that you create.

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• Search the social networking job boards. More and more employers are using professional

social networking sites to post jobs and seek out prospective employees. [13] It’s worth your time to

review the job postings using the appropriate keywords.

Power Networking Tip #6: Follow-Up

It might seem like networking doesn’t always work. It’s good to keep in mind that networking is all about

exchange of value. Sometimes, you may not find people who want the value you have to offer at the time

you are offering it. Don’t be discouraged. Follow-up is important in every part of your job search, so follow

up with everyone with whom you network. Sometimes, people are simply distracted or overwhelmed at

the time you first contacted them. Or sometimes their situation has changed, even in just a few days; you

won’t know this unless you follow up.

It’s best to follow up by phone within one week of a contact. It may seem easier to follow up by e-mail, but

you increase your likelihood of being successful and building a relationship when you follow up by phone.

Don’t simply leave a voice mail message as it is unlikely that someone will return your call. Continue to

call until your contact answers the phone, or leave a voice mail and tell her when you will call back along

with your e-mail address. Then, call back when you say you will. You will be pleasantly surprised at the


Keep in mind that networking is an ongoing process, whether you are looking for a job or not. When you

establish a relationship with someone, keep in touch with her. You should touch base with people in your

network at least once every four to six weeks. It’s good to call to catch up, but an e-mail can be just as

powerful. Send a link to an article or video that you think she will like. It’s a perfect reason for keeping in

touch and helps establish you as someone who delivers value, even when you are not looking for


• Creating a networking plan will help make your networking efforts more effective.

• Networking is about exchanging value, not collecting business cards. It’s best to begin networking even

before you are looking for a job so you can get to know people and provide value to them; it will help you

when you begin your job search.

• Always network with confidence. You are not asking for a favor—you are simply tapping into a reciprocal

business practice.

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• It’s a good idea to create a networking list including friends, family, family’s friends, friends’ family, and

everyone else you know. Write down their names and contact information so you don’t miss anyone.

• Practice what you want to say when you network with people. It’s best to be specific about what you are

looking for and always ask for another person with whom you can network.

• Online professional social networks such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, and other networking sites including

Facebook and Twitter can help you expand your network and build relationships with many people who

might be able to help put you in touch with the right people.

• Your social networking pages represent your personal brand. Be sure that all words, pictures, and videos

are appropriate for prospective employers to view.

• Follow-up is the key to making networking work; don’t assume that because you haven’t heard back from

someone that he doesn’t want to talk to you. Take the time to follow up within one week of every



1. Choose one of your classmates. Review his social networking pages and do a search on major search

engines to see what his personal brand communicates online. Is it appropriate for a prospective

employer? What changes would you recommend?

2. Create your networking list. Identify at least fifteen people that you can contact about your internship or

job search. How can you expand your network to include twenty-five people?

3. Assume you were at a campus networking event and met someone who works at a company where you

would like to work. What would you say to her to try to learn about potential opportunities with the

company? If she said nothing was available, what would you say to be able to contact her at a later time?

4. Review your LinkedIn profile and identify ways that you can stand out. Ask a professor or other

professional to give you some feedback on your profile and other professionals you can add to your


5. [1] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 171.

6. [2] Joseph De Avila, “Beyond Job Boards,” Wall Street Journal, July 2,


July 3, 2009).

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7. [3] Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11,

2007, July

3, 2009).

8. [4] Howcast, “How to Network,” video, July

27, 2009).

9. [5] Mike Hargis, “Social Networking Sites Dos and Don’ts,”, November 5,

2008, May

16, 2010).

10. [6] Elizabeth Lee, personal communication, June 26, 2009.

11. [7] Mike Hargis, “Social Networking Sites Dos and Don’ts,”, November 5,

2008, June

25, 2009).

12. [8] Mike Hargis, “Social Networking Sites Dos and Don’ts,”, November 5,

2008, June

25, 2009).

13. [9] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 134.

14. [10] Diana Dietzschold Bourgeois, “Six Steps to Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn,” Magic Marketing USA,

January 7, 2009, (accessed May 16, 2010).

15. [11] Diana Dietzschold Bourgeois, “Six Steps to Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn,” Magic Marketing USA,

January 7, 2009, (accessed May 16, 2010).

16. [12] Matthew Boyle, “Enough to Make a Monster Tremble,” BusinessWeek, June 25,

2009, (accessed June 25,


17. [13] Matthew Boyle, “Enough to Make a Monster Tremble,” BusinessWeek, June 25,

2009, (accessed June 25,


3.4 Review and Practice

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Power Wrap-Up
Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand the importance of relationships in

selling and how to develop effective relationships.

• You can understand why building relationships is important to selling.

• You can describe how consultative selling works.

• You can identify ways to develop long-term, effective relationships.

• You can understand how to build trust in a relationship.

• You can list the ways to network to build relationships.

• You can recognize how to use adaptive selling.

• You can understand how to integrate networking into your job search.
T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

1. Describe consultative selling and why it is different from transactional selling.

2. Describe lifetime value and why it is important in consultative selling.

3. Explain how to communicate bad news to a customer.

4. Who wins in the win-win-win relationship?

5. What is networking, and why is it important in selling?

6. Describe adaptive selling and why it is important.

7. If your customer is a driver, what is the best way to adapt your selling style?

8. Name at least three ways you can use networking to get the job you want.
P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. The following are two roles that are involved in the

same selling situation; one role is that of an interviewer and the other is that of the aspiring salesperson.

This will give you the opportunity to think about this networking situation from the perspective of both the

networker and the person with whom he is networking.

Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-

play in groups or individually.

Networking That Works

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Role: Pharmaceutical sales manager

You are a sales manager at a major pharmaceutical company. You are always looking for extraordinary

people—the ones who really stand out. You judge people by your first impression of them. Even if you are

not hiring, you usually take the time to meet with people who impress you, or at the very least, you refer

her to someone you think may be hiring. If you are not impressed, you are courteous to the person, but

leave it at that.

• What would impress you if a potential candidate called to network with you?

• What information would you expect him to know about you?

• How would you respond to the networking phone call?

Role: College student

You are you. You are looking for a job in pharmaceutical sales, and you are networking to find any job

opportunities in that area. You have been given the name and phone number of a sales manager at a

major pharmaceutical company. You are not sure if the company is hiring right now, but the sales manager

is well connected in the industry so he is a good person with whom to build a relationship and put your

networking skills to work. You don’t know much about him, but you learned on his LinkedIn profile that he

went to the University of Florida and also volunteers for The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

• What other research would you do before you called the sales manager?

• What is your objective for calling the sales manager?

• Assume you are calling the sales manager to network. How would you start the conversation?

• How would you wrap up the conversation?

• What would you do after the conversation?
P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

1. Identify at least one professional organization on campus and one organization off campus that you can

join to enhance your networking opportunities. Go to the campus student services office or career center.

Also, talk to a professor and a librarian to conduct your research to identify the organizations.

2. Contact at least five people a week on your networking list. Ask for the names of additional people to

contact and to build your network.

3. Set up a profile on LinkedIn (if you haven’t already done so). Connect to at least fifteen people to start

(use your networking list to build your LinkedIn connections). Ask for at least three introductions a week

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from people in your network. Contact each one personally and share what type of career you would like

to pursue. Ask each one for additional names of people you can network with.

4. Using LinkedIn, ask at least three professional people to recommend you. Consider people such as

previous supervisors, professors, and internship coordinators.

5. Create an account on Twitter. Follow at least twenty professional people in the industry in which you

would like to get a job.


1. Consultative selling occurs when you develop a one-to-one relationship with your customer and truly

understand his needs, wants, and resources; it means putting the customer first. Consultative selling

helps you develop short-term and long-term solutions for your customer. Transactional selling focuses on

a single transaction with no input from or relationship with the customer.

2. Lifetime value means that you consider not just one transaction with a customer but also the help and

insight you can provide throughout the entire period that you do business with him. A customer that has

only limited needs right now may develop into a lucrative customer over the course of time based on your

advice and guidance.

3. It’s best to deliver bad news in person or over the phone when time permits. This tells your customer that

you think this is important. You should always communicate in an open, honest, and timely manner and

provide a realistic solution to the problem. If you don’t have a solution, let the customer know when you

will get back to her with an update.

4. The customer, you, and your company all win in a win-win-win relationship.

5. Networking is the art of building alliances or mutually beneficial relationships. Networking is built on the

concept of exchange. In selling, you can expand the number of people you know, which can expand your

business. When what you need provides value to someone else in your network, networking works. The

more you provide value to other people, the higher the likelihood that they will go out of their way to

help you.

6. Adaptive selling occurs when a salesperson adapts and customizes her selling style based on the behavior

of the customer. If you adapt to the customer’s social style, you can increase the chances that he will be

open to hearing your message.

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7. Be professional; focus on facts and timelines that will allow your customer to see how quickly she can

achieve her goal. Provide options that allow her to be in control.

8. Create a networking list, join professional organizations, use online professional social networks, publicize

your profile, ask for recommendations, join groups, create content, and follow up.

Chapter 4
Business Ethics: The Power of Doing the Right Thing

4.1 Business Ethics: Guiding Principles in Selling and in Life

1. Understand ethics and what composes ethical behavior.

2. Discuss the role of values in ethics.

3. Understand how you define your personal code of ethics.

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It seemed like a straightforward decision at the time—you could either pay ninety-nine cents per

song on iTunes, or you could download for free from a peer-to-peer network or torrent service. After

all, artists want people to enjoy their music, right? And besides, it’s not like Kanye West needs any

more money. So you pointed your browser to

Of course, that isn’t the whole story. The MP3s you downloaded have value—that’s why you wanted

them, right? And when you take something of value without paying the price, well, that’s theft. The

fact that you’re unlikely to get caught (and it isn’t impossible; people are arrested, prosecuted, and

ordered to pay massive judgments for providing or downloading music illegally) may make you feel

safer, but if you are caught, you could pay from $750 to $150,000 per song. [1] Other variables can

further complicate the situation. If you downloaded the MP3s at work, for example, you could lose

your job. Acting unethically is wrong and can have enormous practical consequences for your life and

your career.

What Is Ethics?

Ethics is moral principles—it is a system that defines right and wrong and provides a guiding philosophy

for every decision you make. The Josephson Institute of Ethics describes ethical behavior well: “Ethics is

about how we meet the challenge of doing the right thing when that will cost more than we want to pay.

There are two aspects to ethics: The first involves the ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil,

and propriety from impropriety. The second involves the commitment to do what is right, good, and

proper. Ethics entails action; it is not just a topic to mull or debate.” [2] Is it right? Is it fair? Is it equitable?

Is it honest? Is it good for people? These are all questions of ethics.[3] Ethics is doing the right thing, even

if it is difficult or is not to your advantage. [4] Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, discusses the

importance and impact of ethics on business.

Personal Ethics: Your Behavior Defines You

Ethics comes into play in the decisions you make every day. Have you ever received too much money back

when you paid for something in a store, didn’t get charged for something you ordered at a restaurant, or

called in sick to work when you just wanted a day off? [5] Each of these is an ethical dilemma. You make

your decision about which path to take based on your personal ethics; your actions reflect your own moral

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beliefs and moral conduct. [6] Your ethics are developed as a result of your family, church, school,

community, and other influences that help shape your personal beliefs—that which you believe to be right

versus wrong. [7] A good starting point for your personal ethics is the golden rule: “Do unto others as you

would have them do unto you.” That is, treat people the way that you would like to be treated. You would

like people to be honest with you, so be honest with others.

Your strong sense of personal ethics can help guide you in your decisions. You might be surprised to find

yourself with an ethical dilemma about something that is second nature to you. For example, imagine that

you’re taking a class (required for your major) that has an assignment of a twenty-page paper and you’ve

been so busy with your classes, internship, and volunteer work that you really haven’t had the time to get

started. You know you shouldn’t have waited so long and you’re really worried because the paper is due in

only two days and you’ve never written a paper this long before. Now you have to decide what to do. You

could knuckle down, go to the library, and visit the campus Writing Center, but you really don’t have the

time to do all that and still write the entire twenty pages. You’ve heard about some people who have

successfully bought papers from this one Web site. You’ve never done it before, but you are really

desperate and out of time. “If I only do it this one time,” you think, “I’ll never do it again.”

But compromising your ethics even just once is a slippery slope. The idea is that one thing leads naturally

to allowing another until you find yourself sliding rapidly downhill. Ethics is all about the art of navigating

the slippery slope: you have to draw a line for yourself, decide what you will and won’t do—and then stick

to it. If you don’t have a strong set of ethics, you have nothing to use as a guidepost when you are in a

situation that challenges you morally. A highly developed set of personal ethics should guide your actions.

The only way to develop a strong sense of ethics is to do what you believe in, to take actions consistent

with your principles time and time again.

So if you buy the paper and get caught, you will not only fail the class, but you may also find yourself

expelled from school. If you’re tempted to consider buying a paper, take a minute to read your school’s

academic dishonesty policy, as it is most likely very clear about what is right and wrong in situations like

Academic Dishonesty Policy at the University of Nevada, Reno

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Even if you get away with using a paper that is not your own for now, it’s always possible that you’ll be

found out and humiliated even decades after the fact. Southern Illinois University (SIU) had three high-

ranking officials—a university president and two chancellors—revealed as plagiarists in a two-year

period. [8]Even more embarrassing, the committee formed to investigate the charges of plagiarism against

Chancellor Walter Wendler developed a new plagiarism policy whose parts were plagiarized—specifically,

it copied its academic dishonesty policy from Indiana University without citing that source. [9] SIU was

made a laughingstock, and its reputation has suffered considerably. Academic dishonesty is not a gamble

worth taking; though many students are tempted at some point, those who give in usually regret it.

Do the Right Thing

If you rationalize your decisions by saying, “Everyone does it,” you should

reconsider. Unethical behavior is not only what you believe to be right and fair, it is a reflection of your

personal brand and what people can expect from you personally and professionally. Even celebrities such

as Wesley Snipes, Willie Nelson, and Darryl Strawberry have fallen from grace in the eyes of the public

and learned the hard way that unethical—and in their cases, illegal—behavior such as tax evasion can

result in a prison term. [10] The consequences of unethical behavior can range from embarrassment to

suspension, loss of job, or even jail time, depending on the act.

Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York, admitted that he violated his personal ethics and those of his

office when he resigned in March 2008 because of alleged involvement in a sex ring. Ironically, he built

his reputation as the “sheriff of Wall Street” due to his efforts to crack down on corporate

misdeeds. [11] His disgrace was the topic of many conversations about ethics.

You have no doubt heard the expression “Do the right thing.” It is the essence of ethics: choosing to do the

right thing when you have a choice of actions. Being ethical means you will do the right thing regardless of

whether there are possible consequences—you treat other people well and behave morally for its own

sake, not because you are afraid of the possible consequences. Simply put, people do the right thing

because it is the right thing to do. Thomas Jefferson summed up ethics in a letter he wrote to Peter Carr in

1785: “Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you

would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.” [12]

Ethical decisions are not always easy to make, depending on the situation. There are some gray areas

depending on how you approach a certain situation. According to Sharon Keane, associate director of

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marketing at the University of Notre Dame, people have different approaches, so there may be multiple

solutions to each ethical dilemma, [13] and every situation may have multiple options. For example, if one

of your best friends told you in confidence that he stole the questions to the final exam would you say

nothing, use them, or report him? Certainly, using the questions would not be ethical, but your ethical

dilemma doesn’t end there. Reporting him would be the right thing to do. But if you didn’t report him,

would it be unethical? You might not consider that unethical, but what if you just didn’t say anything—is

that still ethical? This is the gray area where your personal ethics come into play. Looking the other way

doesn’t help him or you. While you might be concerned about jeopardizing your friendship, it would be a

small price to pay compared with jeopardizing your personal ethics.

Business Ethics: What Makes a Company Ethical?

Ethics apply to businesses as well personal behavior. Business ethics is the application of ethical behavior

by a business or in a business environment. An ethical business not only abides by laws and appropriate

regulations, it operates honestly, competes fairly, provides a reasonable environment for its employees,

and creates partnerships with customers, vendors, and investors. In other words, it keeps the best interest

of all stakeholders at the forefront of all decisions. [14]

An ethical organization operates honestly and with fairness. Some characteristics of an ethical company

include the following:

• Respect and fair treatment of employees, customers, investors, vendors, community, and all who have

a stake in and come in contact with the organization

• Honest communication to all stakeholders internally and externally

• Integrity in all dealings with all stakeholders

• High standards for personal accountability and ethical behavior

• Clear communication of internal and external policies to appropriate stakeholders [15]

High-Profile Unethical Behavior in Business

While ethical behavior may seem as if it is the normal course of business, it’s unfortunate that some

business people and some businesses do not operate ethically. Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, HealthSouth, and

Lehman Brothers among other companies, have been highlighted in the news during the past several

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years due to unethical behavior that resulted in corporate scandals and, in some cases, the conviction of

senior executives and collapse of some companies. While business has never been immune from unethical

behavior, it was the fall of Enron in 2001 that brought unethical business behavior on the part of senior

executives to the forefront. Enron began as a traditional energy company in 1985. But when energy

markets were deregulated (prices were determined based on the competition rather than being set by the

government) in 1996, Enron grew rapidly. The company began to expand to areas such as Internet

services and borrowed money to fund the new businesses. The debt made the company look less

profitable, so the senior management created partnerships in order to keep the debt off the books. In

other words, they created “paper companies” that held the debt, and they showed a completely different

set of financial statements to shareholders (owners of the company) and the government (U.S. Securities

Exchange Commission [SEC]). This accounting made Enron look extremely profitable—it appeared to

have tripled its profit in two years. As a result, more people bought stock in the company. This lack of

disclosure is against the law, as publicly traded companies are required to disclose accurate financial

statements to shareholders and the SEC. There began to be speculation about the accuracy of Enron’s

accounting, and on October 16, 2001, the company announced a loss of $638 million. On October 22 of

that year, the SEC announced that Enron was under investigation. The stock price continued to fall, and

the company was unable to repay its commitments to its shareholders. As a result of this unethical and

illegal behavior on the part of senior management, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy

protection. [16] The unethical (and illegal) behavior of the senior management team caused a ripple effect

that resulted in many innocent people losing their money and their jobs. As a result of the Enron scandal,

a new law named the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (for Senator Paul Sarbanes from Maryland and Representative

Michael Oxley from Ohio) was enacted in 2002 that requires tighter financial reporting controls for

publicly traded companies. [17]

The epitome of unethical (and illegal) behavior was Bernard Madoff, who was convicted of running a $65

billion fraud scheme on his investors. For years, he reported extremely high returns on his clients’

investments, encouraging them to reinvest with even more money. All the time he was stealing from his

clients and spending the money. He cheated many clients, including high-profile celebrities like actor

Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgewick and a charity of Steven Spielberg’s. [18] He was arrested, tried,

and sentenced to 150 years in jail, and his key employees were also sentenced to similar terms. [19], [20]

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Ethical Dilemmas in Business

Not all behavior that is unethical is illegal. Companies frequently are faced with ethical dilemmas that are

not necessarily illegal but are just as important to navigate. For example, if a travel company wants to

attract a lot of new customers, it can honestly state the price of a trip to Disney World in its advertising

and let customers decide if they want to purchase the trip. This would be ethical behavior. However, if the

company advertises a free vacation in order to get customers to call, but the free vacation package

includes a $500 booking fee, it is unethical. Or if an appliance store wants to get new customers by

advertising a low-priced refrigerator, it is an ethical way to let customers know that the company has

competitively priced appliances as well. However, if the store only has a higher-priced refrigerator in stock

and tries to sell that one instead, it is unethical behavior.

Sometimes ethical behavior can be a matter of disclosure, as in the case of Enron, Bernie Madoff, or the

examples above. Business ethics can also be challenged based on business practices. For example, in the

1990s Nike was accused of exploiting workers in third-world countries to manufacture their products. The

low wages they were paying the workers made Nike’s profits higher.[21] While this is not illegal behavior—

they were paying the workers—it was considered unethical because they were paying the workers less than

what is reasonable. Another example of unethical behavior is not disclosing information. For example, if a

car salesperson knows that a used car he is selling has been in an accident but says that it has not been

involved in an accident, that is unethical. Bribing an executive, saying or promising things that are

knowingly untrue, or treating employees unfairly are all examples of unethical behavior in business.

Corporate Social Responsibility

You may choose to shop at companies because of their business practices. For example, you might like

The Body Shop because of its commitment to selling products that do not use animals for testing. This is a

case of ethical behavior that is socially responsible. In fact, corporate social responsibility (CSR)is when

companies operate in a way that balances the interests of all stakeholders including employees,

customers, investors, vendors, the community, society, and any other parties that have a stake in the

company. While corporate social responsibility may seem easy, it’s not always as easy as it looks. Keep in

mind that in order to be socially responsible a company has to balance the social, economic, and

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environmental dimensions, which means generating a profit for investors while serving the best interest

of all parties that have a stake in the operations of the company. When companies measure the impact of

their performance along the three dimensions of social, economic, and environmental impact, it is called

the triple bottom line.

Most “Accountable” Companies for Socially Responsible Practices

Good Ethics = Good Business

The impact of ethical behavior by companies cannot be underestimated. It’s no surprise that companies

that consistently demonstrate ethical behavior and social responsibility generate better results. In

successful companies ethics is so integrated into the organization that it defines how every employee from

CEO to the lowest-level employee behaves. Ethics is not a separate topic but is incorporated into company

strategy. The company makes ethics part of every activity from strategic planning to operational

execution. [22] For example, Target has been committed to the triple bottom line even before it was in

vogue when the company’s founder, George Draper Dayton, established a foundation to give back to the

community. The company’s commitment has grown, and since 1946 it has donated 5 percent of its income

every year. Target’s Corporate Responsibility Report is information that the company makes available to

everyone on its Web site. [23]

Target’s Corporate Responsibility Report

Target’s commitment to social responsibility is made public on the company’s Web site.

Target’s commitment to ethics and social responsibility are especially impressive given the current

economic challenges. It is times like these that can challenge many companies that do not have this kind

of ethical commitment. With pressure on short-term results, many companies set unrealistic goals and

employees feel extreme pressure to meet them or face the possibility of losing their jobs. Professor Neil

Malhotra of the Stanford Graduate School of Business calls this an “overemphasis on instant

gratification.” In fact, he feels that is the root cause of the current economic crisis. [24] But business ethics,

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just like personal ethics, mean doing the right thing even when it is a difficult choice or doesn’t appear to

be advantageous.

But ethical behavior and integrity are clearly linked to profitability. In a study of seventy-six Holiday Inn

franchises around the country conducted by Tony Simons, associate professor in organization

management at Cornell University and author of the book The Integrity Divided, Simons found that the

behavior of the hotel manager was the “single most powerful driver of profit.” [25]

Ethical Behavior in Sales

One of the most visible positions in any organization in terms of ethics is sales. That’s because it is the

salesperson that comes in contact directly with the customer. What the salesperson says and does is a

direct reflection of the organization and its ethics.

Consider this ethical dilemma if you were a real estate agent. You have just landed a fantastic listing: a

home that in the hot neighborhood that will surely sell quickly and yield a nice commission for you. The

seller tells you that the home inspector suspects there is insect damage to the siding of the house, but the

seller says she has never had any problems. Also, the seller feels so strongly about not disclosing this

information to prospective buyers that she said she would rather go with a different agent if you insist on

disclosing the possible insect damage. What would you do?

In a situation like this, it’s best to remember that doing the right thing can be a hard choice and might not

be advantageous to you. Although you really don’t want to lose this listing, the right thing to do is to

disclose anything that affects the value or desirability of the home. Even if you think it might not be a

major issue, it’s always best to err on the side of honesty and disclose the information.[26] Either

withholding or falsifying information is lying and therefore unethical.[27]

Imagine that you are a financial planner responsible for managing your clients assets. You make your

income on commission, a percentage of the value of your clients’ portfolios; the more you increase his

portfolio, the more money you make. One of your clients is a very conservative investor; right now you are

not making much money from his account. You have an opportunity to sell him a high-return investment,

but the risk is far greater than you think he would normally take. You think you can sell him on it if you

leave out just a few details during your conversation. The investment will actually be good for him because

he will get a significant return on his investment, and besides, you’re tired of spending your time on the

phone with him and not making any money. This could be a win-win situation. Should you give him your

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pitch with a few factual omissions or just make the investment and tell him after the money starts rolling

in? After all, he doesn’t look at his account every day. [28] What should you do?

Even though the result of the investment could be a good one, it is your obligation to provide full

disclosure of the risk and let the customer make the investment decision. You should never make

assumptions and decisions on behalf of your customers without their consent. If you are frustrated about

your lack of income on the account, you might not be the best financial planner for him. You should have

an honest conversation with him and perhaps suggest a colleague or other planner that might be a better

fit for his investment strategy. Sometimes it’s better to part ways than to be tempted to behave


Just Say No
What if your employer asked you to do something that you are not comfortable doing? For example, if

your employer asked you to complete the paperwork for a sale even if the sale hasn’t been made, what

should you do? It’s best to say that you are not comfortable doing it; never compromise your personal

ethics even for your employer. It’s also a good idea to see someone in the human resources department if

you have any questions about the best way to handle a specific situation.

What if you were a salesperson for a textbook company and you are only $1,000 away from your $1

million sales goal. If you make your goal, you’ll earn a $10,000 bonus, money you’ve been counting on to

put a down payment on your first house. But the deadline is only two days away, and none of your

customers is ready to make a purchase. You really want the bonus, and you don’t want to wait until next

year to earn it. Then you remember talking to one of the administrators, and she mentioned the need for

donations. What if you made a $1,000 donation to the school. It would help the school during this

challenging financial crisis and it would be more inclined to make a purchase quickly. After the donation,

you would still have $9,000. This could be a good move for everyone. Would you make the donation to

“buy” your bonus?

When you are in sales, you are not only representing yourself, but you are also representing your

company. Although it appears that all parties will benefit from the donation, it is not ethical for the

school, you, or your company to make an exchange like that. Products such as textbooks should be

purchased based on the organization’s buying process. Donations should be made with no strings

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attached. You might miss the opportunity to earn your bonus this year, but you will learn valuable lessons

to make next year an even better sales year.[29]

Imagine that you are a sales rep for a software company and you’ve just taken a customer to lunch. It was

an expensive restaurant, and the two of you thoroughly enjoyed yourselves; you had steak, wine, and a

chocolate dessert. Now you’re filling out an expense report, and you need to fill in the amount of tip you

left. In fact, you left a twenty-dollar bill—but forty dollars wouldn’t have been an unreasonable amount to

leave for outstanding service. You could fill in the higher amount and use the difference to take your

girlfriend to the movies; you’ve been meaning to spend more time with her. After all, you make a lot of

money for the company and have been working a lot of nights and weekends lately. You also didn’t submit

your expense account for the mileage you traveled last week, so this should make up for it. Is it OK to

submit the additional tip money on this expense report?

It’s no surprise that it’s never acceptable to falsify information on an expense report (or any report for that

matter). If you have legitimate expenses, they should be submitted according to the company policy.

While it’s hard to keep up with the paperwork, it’s the right way to report and be reimbursed for company

expenses. This can be another one of those slippery slope arguments; if you do it once, you might be

tempted to do it again. Many people in many companies have been fired for providing false information

on their expense reports.

Personal ethics and business ethics are a part of everyday selling. It’s a good idea to remember the words

of Peter Drucker, famous management consultant and author, “Start with what is right, rather than what

is acceptable.” [30]

Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View
Is the Customer Always Right?

The customer is always right, except when he asks you to do something unethical. What should you do to

uphold your ethics and maintain your relationship? suggests the following four steps:

1. Evaluate the situation with a clear head. Most unethical behavior is driven by emotions such as fear,

greed, stress, and status. Identify what is causing the behavior but wait until you have some time to


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2. Don’t jump to conclusions; identify the circumstances. You might not know the entire story so

determine what you know and what you don’t know.

3. Identify the criteria you are using to make this judgment. Is the behavior against company policy? Is it

against the law? Is it against your personal code of ethics?

4. Seek counsel. Always ask a trusted colleague, supervisor, or human resources representative for

advice. Chances are, she has experienced the same situation and can provide insight from the

company’s perspective and policies.

Understanding Values

Ethics are defined by moral principles; they are actions that are viewed by society as “right,” “just,” or

“responsible.” [31] Values define what is important to you: they are your guiding principles and beliefs, they

define how you live your life, and they inform your ethics. While certain values might be important to you,

they may not be important to your best friends or even every member of your family. While family,

friends, and your environment have a significant influence, you develop your own set of values. Consider

the list below, which includes some examples of values: [32]

• Honesty

• Open communication

• Teamwork

• Integrity

• Prestige

• Security

• Helping others

• Loyalty

• Social responsibility

• Impact on society

• Creativity

• Achievement

• Global focus

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• Religion

Values provide your personal compass and your direction in life. When something is not in line with your

values, you feel unhappy and dissatisfied. [33]Many people feel passionately about their values and want to

have their environment align with their values. Examples of this are evident during political elections

when people take sides on issues such as education, health care, and other social issues that reflect

personal values.

You might be surprised to learn that your values are not set in stone. Your personal values will evolve and

may even change drastically based on your experiences. [34] For example, Nikki Tsongas, wife of the late

Senator Paul Tsongas from Massachusetts, got involved in public service after the death of her husband.

She is now a congresswoman from the fifth district of Massachusetts. [35] She may have never considered

serving in public office, but the death of her husband had a dramatic impact on her values.

You have a set of values that inform your ethics, which in turn inform your decision making. No one can

tell you what your values are; that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. John C. Maxwell, in his

book There’s No Such Thing as “Business” Ethics, lists the values that he lives by, such as “put your family

ahead of your work (having a strong and stable family creates a launching pad for many other successes

during a career and provides a contented landing place at the end of it)” [36] and “take responsibility for

your actions (if you desire to be trusted by others and you want to achieve much, you must take

responsibility for your actions).” [37] If you are looking for a comprehensive list of values, check out, which lists more than five hundred different values.

Learn about What Values Are Important to You

Values of Organizations

Just like people, organizations have values, too. Values are “proven, enduring guidelines for human

conduct” according to Stephen Covey in his book Principles. [38] Many companies choose their values and

communicate them to employees, customers, and vendors on the company Web site and other company

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communications. For example, Whole Foods includes the following values, among others: “selling the

highest quality natural and organic products available” and “caring about communities and their

environment.” You can see their entire values statement on their Web site.

Whole Foods Market Values Statement

Levi Strauss & Co. identifies four key values for their company: empathy, originality, integrity, and

courage. Their values statement is also included on their Web site.

Levi Strauss & Co. Values Statement

Microsoft includes integrity, honesty, personal excellence, passion for technology, and commitment to

customers as part of their values statement on their Web site.

Microsoft Values Statement

Company values and personal values are important because your values motivate you to work. [39] You will

enjoy and excel at your job if you choose a company whose values you share. For example, if the

environment is one of your values, it’s best to choose a company that includes a commitment to the

environment as part of their values statement. Chances are you won’t be happy working at a company that

doesn’t put a priority on the environment.

Mission Statements: Personal and Corporate Guidelines

Ethics and values are major concepts. If you have developed personal ethics and values, you might be

wondering how they come together to help provide a roadmap for your life and your career. That’s the

purpose of your mission statement; it becomes your roadmap for your decisions, choices, and behavior.

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You learned about creating your personal mission statement in the Selling Usection of . Mission

statements such as “To gain experience in the public accounting field toward earning my CPA

designation” and “To master the leading Web development tools and become a best-in-class Web

developer” may sound simple, but each takes time, thought, and insight to create. [40] You may want to

review the Selling U section in if you haven’t already created your personal mission statement.

Just as your personal mission statement is a blueprint for how you make decisions in life, companies also

use a mission statement to define their direction, make operating decisions, and communicate to

employees, vendors, shareholders, and other stakeholders. In fact, most companies have a formal, written

mission that they include on their Web site. A mission statement is different than an advertising slogan or

motto. It is based on the company’s ethics and values and provides a broad direction as to what the

company stands for. For example, Harley-Davidson’s mission statement is below and can be found on

their Web site.

Harley-Davidson Mission Statement



We inspire and fulfill dreams around the world through Harley-Davidson experiences. [41]

FedEx expresses their mission statement a little differently as shown below and includes their mission

statement along with their values on their Web site.

FedEx Mission Statement and Values

FedEx will produce superior financial returns for shareowners by providing high value-added

supply chain, transportation, business and related information services through focused

operating companies. Customer requirements will be met in the highest quality manner

appropriate to each market segment served. FedEx will strive to develop mutually rewarding

relationships with its employees, partners and suppliers. Safety will be the first consideration in

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all operations. Corporate activities will be conducted to the highest ethical and professional

standards. [42]

The mission statement of the insurance company Aflac is short and to the point as shown below. It can

also be found on their Web site.

Aflac Mission Statement

To combine innovative strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive

prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers. [43]

Many companies, like Google, put their mission statement or philosophy online—others use a printed

manual. The mission statement is made available for the following reasons: employees can use it to aid

them in ethical business decision making, investors can evaluate the company’s ethics before making a

decision about becoming involved with it, and customers can choose whom they will do business with

based on their ethics and purpose. In addition to their mission statement (which you may remember

from : “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and

useful” [44]), Google’s Web site gives their philosophy—ten guiding principles, ten “things Google has found

to be true,” which are values that reflect how the company conducts business:

1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.

2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.

3. Fast is better than slow.

4. Democracy on the Web works.

5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.

6. You can make money without doing evil.

7. There’s always more information out there.

8. The need for information crosses all borders.

9. You can be serious without a suit.

10. Great just isn’t good enough. [45]

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These ten things are the principles that Google uses to make decisions as a company; this list, with

accompanying explanations, details why they do things the way that they do. It is both practical and

concerned with ethics—the idea that “great just isn’t good enough” is part of their values, a declaration

that Google wants to do the best that it can in every endeavor—it means that they will not take shortcuts,

but will constantly strive to be more ethical, efficient, and user-friendly.

Character and Its Influence on Selling

As you have probably figured out, ethics, values, and missions are all very personal. Together they guide

you in the way you behave at home, school, work, or out with your friends. Your character is what sets you

apart; it includes the features and beliefs that define you. It’s no surprise that the word has it origin in the

Latin word character, which means mark or distinctive quality and from the Greek charaktr, which

means to scratch. [46] The Josephson Institute defines character as being composed of six core ethical


1. Trustworthiness

2. Respect

3. Responsibility

4. Fairness

5. Caring

6. Citizenship [47]

This is a comprehensive description of character. Consider how you perceive other people; it’s their

character that defines who they are. Can you depend on him? Is she fair? Does he respect you? Just as

these ethical pillars define other peoples’ character, they also define your character to other people.

Customers ask the same questions about you: Can I trust her? Will he give me fair pricing? Is she honest?

Does he care about the best interest of my business?

The Power of Your Reputation

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In November of 2008, Tomb Raider: Underworld was released for multiple gaming systems. Knowing

how important a game’s reputation can be for sales, public relations firm Barrington Harvey—in an

attempt to massage the Metacritic score, a less-than-ethical move—asked reviewers to hold their scores

until after the first weekend of the game’s release. “That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores

at the request of Eidos.” When asked why, a spokesperson for Barrington Harvey explained, “Just that

we’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the United States that’s

handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just

to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.” [48] Eidos, the company that published

the game, tried to take an ethical shortcut—they wanted to be sure that the game’s reputation could

not precede it—but paid for that decision with a great deal of negative publicity that adversely impacted

their reputation.

Your overall character as judged by other people is your reputation. [49]Consider some celebrities who have

had unethical acts negatively impact their reputation: Tiger Woods, known as one of golf’s greats has been

reduced to tabloid fodder since the news of his extramarital affairs; Michael Phelps, the only person to

ever win eight gold medals in a single Olympic Games, has become the poster boy for marijuana use. Both

had stellar reputations and were considered role models. Now both are working to gain back the trust of

the public. Reputation isn’t limited to the wealthy or powerful. In high school, you knew that Sharon was a

brain and Timothy was the sensitive, poetic type. You may never have had a conversation with either one

of them, but you knew their reputations. Meanwhile, you avoided classes with Mrs. Avar because she had

a reputation as a hard grader. Your reactions to many of the people in your day-to-day life are affected by

their reputations.

Build Your Reputation: Be an Industry Expert
A great way to build your reputation in a specific industry is to become an industry expert: write a blog,

tweet regularly about industry issues, be a guest speaker or panelist at industry conferences or events

online or in person. Decision makers hear and see you take on a leadership role and seek you out to gain

your expertise. You can build your reputation, which, in turn, will help you build your client list. [50]

When you work in sales, you are selling yourself; you will have greater success with customers if you are

someone they want to “buy.” When customers buy from you, they are investing in your reputation. George

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Ludwig, author ofPower Selling, explains that “you’ve got to live out your identity consistently in every

facet of your life and make sure prospective clients bump into that identity everywhere they turn.” [51] In

other words, every action you take affects your reputation. If you fail to follow up, forget details, or even if

you are consistently late for meetings, you may become known as unreliable. On the other hand, if you

consistently deliver what you promise, you will be known as reliable; if you always meet your deadlines,

you will have a reputation for punctuality.

Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
Do the Right Thing

Robert L. Bailey, retired CEO, president, and chairman of the State Auto Insurance Companies, knows

how important a salesperson’s reputation can be and the value of consistent ethical behavior. “Back in my

corporate days I regularly met with new employees. I would tell them, ‘Regardless of the circumstances,

regardless of what the contract says, we always want you to do the right thing. Do you know what it means

to do the right thing?’ I would ask.” Bailey knows that any action taken by a salesperson can affect his or

her reputation: “If your actions are described on the front page of our local newspaper or USA Today, will

most people read the account and say, ‘I think they did the right thing?” That’s the kind of action we

encourage and expect.” [52] Your reputation speaks for you; make sure it’s saying what you want customers

to hear.

You’re Only as Good as Your Word

Unfortunately, not everyone in sales is ethical or honest. David Chittock, president of Incentra, Inc.,

discusses one encounter in which a customer shared her view of salespeople: “The prospect’s body

language told me she wasn’t just uncomfortable—she was downright hostile to me. Finally, she shared this

sentiment out loud: ‘I have to be honest with you. I think that all salespeople are liars, and I don’t trust

any of them, and I don’t trust you.’” He goes on to explain that “many (if not all) of our prospects, view

salespeople with suspicion, assuming that in attempting to make a sale, we will be self-serving,

manipulative, and possibly even untruthful.” [53] Chittock and his employees overcome that suspicion by

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making promises to their customers and then keeping them—sure, it sounds simple, but too many

salespeople are willing to promise their customers the moon in order to close the deal.

Dr. Pat Lynch conducted a study that was published in the Journal of Business Ethics in which he asked

more than seven hundred businesspeople and graduate business students to rank their values in the

workplace; these included competency, work ethic, overcoming adversity, seniority, and promise keeping.

Lynch found that keeping promises was that the bottom of people’s lists, whatever their gender,

supervisory experience, or religious background.[54] Honesty is a way to stand out and to build your


If you are committed to finding win-win-win solutions for your customers, you need to be honest with

them and with yourself. Figure out what you can realistically guarantee, make the promise, and then keep

it. Jack Welch, in his book Winning, declares that “too many people—too often—instinctively don’t

express themselves with frankness. They don’t communicate straightforwardly or put forth ideas looking

to stimulate real debate. But when you’ve got candor, everything just operates faster and better.” [55] If

circumstances change and you realize that you will be unable to keep your promise, immediately

communicate with the customer; explain what has happened, offer a new solution, and apologize. While

that can make for an awkward conversation, in the long run, that kind of honesty and openness will help

you to build strong business relationships.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Facing Challenges

Imagine that you are the buyer for Chez Food, a popular pan-European restaurant on the West Coast. You

have good relationships with your suppliers, especially your produce guy, a genial fellow who owns his

own business. As the holidays approach, Ray, your produce guy, approaches you with a gift. He tells you

that he really appreciates both your business and your friendship, and he hands you two tickets to a

Caribbean cruise. The company policy is clear: you aren’t supposed to accept gifts from suppliers, but, you

argue to yourself, what could be the harm? After all, you were planning to keep buying from Ray before he

offered you the tickets; it’s not as though he’s asking you for anything, anyway. What will you do? Your

ethical obligation, of course, is to refuse the tickets—politely. Your relationship with Ray is important, but

doing the right thing—and keeping your job—is important too.

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At some point in your selling career—in fact, probably at many points—you will be faced with a situation

that challenges your ethics. At these times, it is best to follow your code of ethics and the company’s code

of ethics; when in doubt, don’t make an exception. If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to

refuse a gift or accurately detail your résumé, remember that you will very like be found out—and when

you’re found out, you will be very lucky not to lose your job. Is the case of wine from a supplier worth

losing your job over? But more important, when you fail an ethical challenge, you trade in your integrity.

If you are tempted to inflate your expense report by fifty dollars, ask yourself, “Is my integrity worth more

than fifty dollars?” The answer, of course, is that your integrity is worth more than any amount of

money—and once gone, it cannot be bought back. Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron, was a man with a great

reputation and an oil portrait displayed at his alma mater; once his crimes were discovered, however, his

name was forever associated with a willingness to break the law and exploit his own employees. [56]

Sir Michael Rake, chairman of KPMG International, says in Leading by Example, “Enron had an

enormously laudable charter of values in corporate social responsibility, but actually it was almost a

smokescreen for abuse…In investigations we’ve done into companies and individuals where things have

gone wrong…have crossed from white, to gray, to black. Most of them have to operate in the gray a lot of

the time…because of the aggressiveness with which the targets are set of the way in which their

achievement of those targets is rewarded, intelligent, honest people suddenly think that this act is OK:

because within that environment it seems to be OK. It isn’t OK; they’ve actually done something which is

illegal or amoral.” [57]

Finding yourself in a corrupt corporate culture is not reason enough to violate your own code of ethics or

break the law. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured to do something unethical (or

even illegal), talk to your supervisor about it. If you don’t feel that you can talk to your supervisor—or your

supervisor is part of the problem—talk to someone in the human resources department. Give the company

a chance to resolve the situation; if they are not aware of it, they can’t make it right.

If you’re wondering about how the role of human resources works in a situation like this, it might be

helpful to think about an analogy: When you were in high school and you went out with your friends, your

mother, at some point or another (or perhaps every Friday night!), must have given you a talk that went

something like this: “I want you to have a good time with your friends—but if anything happens, just call

us and we’ll come pick you up and we won’t be mad. If there’s drinking at the party, or if someone has

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drugs, just call us if you need to, OK?” While you probably won’t be calling your mom when an ethical

problem arises at work (much as you might secretly like to), you can call the human resources

department. Human resources departments oversee hiring, promotions, and performance reviews, but

they also deal with employee relations and can provide confidential counseling to workers. It is important

for a company’s success that employee goals align with corporate goals; when this is the case, the

corporate culture is considered “successful.” [58] If your supervisor is involved in the wrongdoing, the

human resources department can be an excellent resource for you.

• Ethics is moral principles, a system that defines right and wrong.

• Business ethics is ethical behavior applied to a business situation.

• An ethical dilemma is a situation that is presented with options that may be right or wrong.

• Values define what is important to you: they are your guiding principles and beliefs, they define how you

live your life, and they inform your ethics.

• A mission statement is a roadmap of where a person or company wants to go.

• Your reputation will affect how people see you throughout your life, which can have either a positive or a

negative impact on your career.

• Every action you take defines you; bear that in mind when making decisions.

• If you find yourself in a situation that challenges your ethics, talk to your supervisor. If you don’t feel that

you can talk to your supervisor, talk to someone in the human resources department.

• A good rule of thumb is that if you would be ashamed to tell your boss about it, don’t do it.

1. Evaluate your values. Choose three values that are important to you and discuss how they may impact

your decision making.

2. Think of someone you know only by reputation; what do you know about that person, and what

assumptions do you make about him or her?

3. Discuss the reputation of the following people. What actions has each taken that reflect their


o Britney Spears

o Chris Brown

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o Simon Cowell

o Angelina Jolie

4. Discuss what you would do in each of the following situations. Is it ethical behavior?

o You are not really sick, but you want to take the day off. What do you say when you call your


o You are on a job interview for a job you really want, and the interviewer mentions that the

candidate she hires will need to be fluent in Excel. Although you are familiar with Excel, you are

not especially good at it and don’t really know all the features. What would you say when she asks

you about your skill level with Excel?

o You went on a business trip for the company you work for and are preparing your expense report.

You are able to include tips, mileage, and other categories without a receipt. Since you’ve been

working a lot of overtime without pay, you consider adding in an additional $25 to cover your

extra hours; no one will notice. What do you do as you are completing the expense report?

o Your boss takes the afternoon off but asks you to tell everyone at the staff meeting that he is in a

meeting with a client. When you are in a staff meeting, a manager asks you why your boss isn’t

there. What would you say?

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University, (accessed August 31, 2009).


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University, (accessed August 31, 2009).

Saylor URL:

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29, 2009).

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ughingstock (accessed February 18, 2010).

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1.1318397 (accessed February 18, 2010).

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Lying to You,” Selling Power 15, no.

9, (accessed March 16, 2010).

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2002, (accessed March 16, 2010).

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2002, (accessed December 6,


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Act,”,,sid182_gci920030,00.html (accessed December 6,


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schem_n_151018.html (accessed December 6, 2009).

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scheme/?scp=2&sq=madoff%20sentencing&st=cse(accessed August 31, 2009).

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1, 2009,;col1(accessed August 29, 2009).

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Report,” (accessed

September 1, 2009).

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1, 2009,;col1(accessed August 29, 2009).

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September 16, 2008, (accessed

March 16, 2010).

28. [26] Buck Wargo, “5 Everyday Ethical Dilemmas,” Realtor, March


design/pt_articlepage_v1_print&presentationtemplateid=1b18c0004a12c9a4b7e1ffbdd1ec736f (accesse

d August 29, 2009).

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Lying to You,” Selling Power 15, no.

9, (accessed March 16, 2010).

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advisors.asp (accessed August 29, 2009).

Saylor URL:

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2009, (accessed February 18, 2010).

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r+20%2C+2006&lid=SP69444 (accessed August 29, 2009).

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55147.html?tag=content;col1 (accessed August 29, 2009

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55147.html?tag=content;col1 (accessed August 29, 2009).

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Bio,”,54 (accessed September 1, 2009).

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Planning, (accessed August 29, 2009).

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55147.html?tag=content;col1 (accessed August 29, 2009).

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Mission-Statement (accessed September 1, 2009).

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(accessed August 29, 2009).

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Values,” (acce

ssed August 29, 2009).

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Values,” (accessed September 1, 2009).

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September 1, 2009).

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Philosophy,” (accessed September 1, 2009).

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Institute, (accessed September 1, 2009).

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scores (accessed September 1, 2009).

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Power, (accessed August 29, 2009).

53. [51] Renee Houston Zemanski, “The Power of Your Reputation,” Selling

Power, (accessed August 29, 2009).

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2008,;col (acc

essed February 18, 2010).

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2009, (acce

ssed February 18, 2010).

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2006, (accessed September 1, 2009).

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Business School Press, 2007), 9–11.

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and Performance through Looking at Google Inc.,” extended essay, The University of Birmingham, The

Birmingham Business School, 2005–


%20review%20and%20the%20google%20case%20study%20success.pdf (accessed September 1, 2009).

4.2 Policies, Practices, and Cultures

1. Identify how company policies reflect business ethics.

You might be wondering how a company provides guidance to all employees about what behavior it

expects from them. Imagine a global company like Wal-Mart, which has over two billion employees

worldwide. [1] How do all the employees know what is considered ethical behavior by the company?

Can they take as much time as they want for lunch? Are they able to take off as many days as they

wish? What expenses qualify for reimbursement? All the policies of a company are included in

its employee handbook.

Employee Handbooks: Your Practical, Professional How-To

Every company has a highly specific code of ethics governing the actions of its employees. This manual,

the employee handbook (sometimes called the code of ethics or code of conduct or other similar name),

outlines the company’s policies concerning gift giving, nondisclosure of company information, and other

areas of behavior. Starbucks’ code of ethics, Business Ethics and Compliance: Standards of Business

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Conduct, for example, explains when employees may and may not accept gifts: “You may not encourage or

solicit meals or entertainment from anyone with whom Starbucks does business or from anyone who

desires to do business with Starbucks. Giving or accepting valuable gifts or entertainment might be

construed as an improper attempt to influence the relationship.” [2] An employee handbook will also

include the company’s sexual harassment and nondiscrimination policies, an explanation of procedures

including breaks and scheduling principles, a list of benefits for part- and full-time employees, a

breakdown of disciplinary policies and grounds for dismissal, as well as rules concerning phone, fax, mail,

Internet use, and the permissible use of company vehicles. The handbook will additionally contain

information like the history and goals of the company.

While all employee handbooks are slightly different, all include the guidelines and policies that define

ethical behavior in that company or organization. You can review several different companies’ policies at

the Web sites below:

Company Policies
Gap Code of Business Conduct

Source: The Gap, Inc.

McDonald’s Standards of Business Conduct for Employees


Source: McDonald’s Corporation

United States Government—Code of Ethics

Source: United States House of Representatives Ethics Committee

What Company Policies Say and What They Mean

Whatever company you end up working for will have its own policies with which you will need to

familiarize yourself. But most companies include the same basic issues that are frequently encountered in

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sales: conflicts of interest, bribes, and noncompete clauses. The specifics of these policies will vary from

company to company, but this section will give you a good idea of what to expect, the meaning of key

terms you will encounter, and some sample policies to study.

A Page from IBM’s Employee Handbook
Most companies include a gift and entertainment policy in its employee handbook. IBM has a specific

policy that covers these areas.

No IBM employee, or any member of his or her immediate family, can accept gratuities or gifts of

money from a supplier, customer, or anyone in a business relationship. Nor can they accept a gift

or consideration that could be perceived as having been offered because of the business

relationship. “Perceived” simply means this: if you read about it in your local paper, would you

wonder whether the gift just might have something to do with a business relationship? No IBM

employee can give money or a gift of significant value to a supplier if it could reasonably be

viewed as being done to gain a business advantage. If an employee is offered money or a gift of

some value by a supplier or if one arrives at their home or office, a manager should be informed

immediately. If the gift is perishable, the manager will arrange to donate it to a local charitable

organization. Otherwise, it should be returned to the supplier. Whatever the circumstances, the

employee or the manager should write the supplier a letter, explain IBM’s guidelines on the

subject of gifts and gratuities. Of course, it is an accepted practice to talk business over a meal. So

it is perfectly all right to occasionally allow a supplier or customer to pick up the check. Similarly,

it frequently is necessary for a supplier, including IBM, to provide education and executive

briefings for customers. It’s all right to accept or provide some services in connection with this

kind of activity—services such as transportation, food, or lodging. For instance, transportation in

IBM or supplier planes to and from company locations, and lodging and food at company

facilities are all right. A violation of these policies may result in termination. [4]

A conflict of interest is “a situation in which a person, such as a public official, an employee, or a

professional, has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of

his or her official duties.” [5] There are four types of conflicts of interest that you may encounter in your

career: family interests, gifts, private use of employer property, and moonlighting.

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Family interests create a conflict when a relative of yours is either someone from whom you might

purchase goods or services for your employer or when you have influence over the potential hiring of a

family member of yours. It’s best to avoid these types of situations as it can be difficult to make an

objective decision.

Gifts create a conflict of interest when they are given to you by someone with whom you do business. Gifts

are frequently given at the holidays and may include something small like a case of wine or something

more extravagant like a trip.

private use of employer property can be anything from stealing pens to using your work computer to work

on editing your vacation pictures to driving the company car on a weekend getaway and then reporting

the mileage on a corporate expense report.

Moonlighting is holding down a second job. While that might not sound insidious at first, if you work two

jobs in the same field, it is almost inevitable that you will run into ethical problems. Who gets your best

ideas? Where does most of your energy go? And if you have inside knowledge of two different

corporations, working not to let that information influence you will be terribly difficult.

A bribe, according to Merriam-Webster, is “money or favor given or promised in order to influence the

judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust; something that serves to induce or

influence.” [6] Soliciting, accepting, offering, or giving a bribe is illegal—even if your offer is refused, you

are committing a crime. Bribery can take place in many different venues. Pharmaceutical companies

attempt to persuade doctors to prescribe their products by buying them meals and giving them pens and

other trinkets as well as trips to medical conventions. Business gifts are considered a form of bribery when

they are given by someone who could benefit from having influence on a decision maker. For example, if

you are the buyer of electronics at Wal-Mart, you are not able to accept any gifts from vendors or

prospective vendors as it might appear to influence your buying decisions for the chain.

A noncompete agreement (sometimes called a covenant not to compete, or CNC) prevents an employee

from entering into competition with the employer once his job has ended—in other words, it prevents you

from taking a job with a competitor after you’ve quit or been fired. A noncompete agreement may also

prevent former employees from starting their own businesses in the same field. The reasoning behind the

CNC is the fear that a former executive could take his insider knowledge and trade secrets—as well as his

contacts—with him to a new position. No employer wants to expose its strategy to its competitors.

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Noncompete agreements are generally upheld by the courts as long as they contain reasonable limits as to

the time period and geographical space—that is, for example, that you may not compete in the state for

two years after your termination. Noncompete agreements are not legal in California, although there are

still measures in place in that state to protect trade secrets. [7] Not every job will ask you to sign a

noncompete agreement, and if you haven’t signed one, then there are no restrictions on your future

employment. This is one reason it’s so important to read and understand anything you sign. However,

even if you don’t sign a noncompete agreement, you may be asked to sign a

nondisclosure agreement (or confidentiality agreement) or your company may have a nondisclosure or

confidentiality policy that requires you to protect your former employer’s trade secrets; you may not

exploit that information in future employment. [8] A trade secret is “any kind of information that allows

you to make money because it is not known.” [9] For example, Coca-Cola’s signature formula is a trade

secret, as is the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Information about the internal workings of a company

that could only plausibly be gained by working for that company is usually a trade secret.

If you find yourself between jobs and worry about the legality of finding another (having signed a

noncompete agreement with your previous employer), bear in mind that noncompete agreements are

most likely to be enforceable if your new job is strikingly similar to your old job. If you go from the sales

department at Target to the advertising department of Kmart, you are probably (legally) in the

clear. [10] Your new job is different enough that you are unlikely to be seen by the court as exploiting your

knowledge of Target’s sales practices. Remember that this is only a concern if you have signed a

noncompete agreement previously; while noncompete clauses are common, they are not universal.

What Is Whistle-Blowing?

Jeffrey Wigand, former head of research and development for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation

(the third-largest tobacco company in the United States), is one of the most famous whistle-blowers in

America. He says of himself, “The word whistle-blower suggests that you’re a tattletale or that you’re

somehow disloyal. But I wasn’t disloyal in the least bit. People were dying. I was loyal to a higher order of

ethical responsibility.” [11] Wigand’s testimony against the tobacco industry, his claims that executives at

Brown & Williamson knew that cigarettes were addictive, lied about it under oath, and destroyed

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documents related to that fact, led directly to the lawsuit brought by forty state attorneys general against

tobacco companies.

Whistle-blowing, the act of publicly exposing the misconduct of a company or organization, is a

courageous act. Wigand’s reputation was destroyed by a punitive smear campaign conducted by the

industry he spoke out against, and the stress resulting from that and the trial destroyed his marriage.

Brown & Williamson filed a lawsuit against him for revealing confidential company information (the suit

was dismissed as a condition of the $368 billion settlement against the tobacco industry). [12] But Wigand

blew the whistle in order to save thousands of lives. The true story was made into a blockbuster movie in

1999 called The Insider.

Of course, whistle-blowing exists on a less grand scale. If you know which of your classmates stole the

answer key to an exam and you tell the professor, you have blown the whistle. Whistle-blowing doesn’t

always involve risking your life, and it doesn’t always involve bringing a corporation to its knees. At its

heart, it is action taken to reveal wrongdoings in hopes of seeing justice done.

Only limited protection existed for whistle-blowers until recently; today, the best protection they have

(unless they work for the federal government) is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, mentioned earlier,

which states that “whoever knowingly, with the intent to retaliate, takes any action harmful to any person,

including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law

enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any

federal offense, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.” [13] It’s

important to bear in mind that you have no obligation to blow the whistle; you can simply refuse to take

part in any unethical or illegal activity. If you know that crimes are being committed at your place of

business, you have to decide for yourself what form that refusal will take: you may simply not commit any

crimes yourself, you may try to persuade others to behave ethically, or you may feel that you must resign

your position. It will depend on your situation and your personal code of ethics.

Ethics and the Law

The ever-changing landscape of technology has created new opportunities to test ethics; spammers, scam

artists, and identity thieves have created the need to clearly define legal, and in some cases, ethical

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behavior online. An increasing number of cases of fraud committed via social networking sites have taken

place. There have been cases of people who create Twitter profiles in the names of other, real people.

News anchor Keith Olbermann and Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, have both been

victims of such hoaxes. [14]If tempted to such behavior yourself, remember: you are what you tweet. Your

reputation will be affected by all the things that you do—make sure that you’re making yourself look good.

Tightening Legal Loopholes

One of the best examples of laws being enacted in response to unethical business practices is the

Robinson-Patman Act. In 1914, the Clayton Act became the first federal statute to expressly prohibit price

discrimination in several forms. Large chain grocery stores used their buying power to negotiate lower

prices than smaller, independent grocery stores were offered. The Robinson-Patman Act was passed in

1936, during the Great Depression, as a direct response to that unfair business practice, closing the

loophole. [15]Buyers for the big chain stores weren’t breaking the law when they used their influence to get

better prices than small stores could, but they were behaving unethically—and the law caught up with

them in the end.

Another example of ways in which it can take the law some time to catch up to reality is the CAN-SPAM

Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act) of 2003. [16] CAN-SPAM

purports to take on spam—that is, unsolicited marketing e-mails, often with sexual or “STAY AT HOME,

EARN $$$!!!”–type messages. Perhaps the most famous arrest of a spammer came in 2005, when

Anthony Greco was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and charged with violating CAN-SPAM

by sending more than 1.5 million messages to users of the MySpace instant messaging service that

advertised pornography and mortgage-refinancing services. [17]

Culture and Ethics

When you are working in a different country, or with professionals from other cultures, there may be

different ideas as to what is appropriate and ethical. The Japanese, for example, have a culture of

corporate gift giving; kosai hi (literally “expense for friendly relations”) [18] refers to the Japanese business

practice of maintaining large expense accounts used for entertaining clients and nurturing other

professional relationships. This money is, for example, often used to buy golf club memberships as gifts

for people with whom Japanese businessmen and women have valuable working relationships. When you

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come face-to-face with these different customs, it is important not to be insulting, but you also cannot

ignore your company’s policies. “When in Rome” will only carry you so far.

A good rule of thumb is this: if you wouldn’t be comfortable telling your boss about it, or if you’d be

embarrassed to tell your mom about it, don’t do it. If you’re working for a company that does business in

more than one country, odds are they will have a liaison from each country that can help you to navigate

the intricacies of cultural difference. In Middle Eastern countries, there is a custom of baksheesh, a word

that encompasses everything from tipping to alms for a beggar to out-and-out bribery. If you are working

in the Middle East, there may be an expectation that you will help to grease the wheels; your supervisor

should be able to brief you on company policy in such situations. [19]

One excellent example of the ethical struggles unique to international business can be found in Michael

Crichton’s book Rising Sun, which deals with the clash of Japanese and American business practices. At

one point, two police officers are discussing how often they are offered gifts by the Japanese: “Giving gifts

to ensure that you will be seen favorably is something the Japanese do by instinct. And it’s not so different

from what we do, when we invite the boss over for dinner. Goodwill is goodwill. But we don’t invite the

boss over for dinner when we’re up for a promotion. The proper thing to do is to invite the boss early in

the relationship, when nothing is at stake. Then it’s just goodwill. The same with the Japanese. They

believe you should give the gift early, because then it is not a bribe. It is a gift. A way of making a

relationship with you before there is any pressure on the relationship.” [20] When you need to decline a gift

yourself, apologize and explain that company guidelines prohibit your acceptance of the gift. You should

then promptly report the gift to your supervisor.

• Your company will make available to you their policies on various ethical issues in the employee

handbook; it is your responsibility to read the materials provided and remain familiar with their contents.

• There are four different types of conflicts of interest: family interests, gifts,private use of employer

property, and moonlighting.

• Bribery, the use of gifts to influence someone, is both unethical and illegal.

• Many employers will require you to sign a noncompete agreement; be sure that you understand the

details before you agree.

• A company’s trade secrets should never be disclosed.

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• Whistle-blowing, the exposure of a company’s wrongdoing to the public, is never your ethical

obligation—you are obligated only to refuse to participate. However, it can be a deeply noble act. You

must analyze the situation yourself and decide what is called for.

• Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 regulates corporate financial practices and provides protection for whistle-


• While different cultures have different ideas about what is ethical, working in a different country or with a

client from another culture does not excuse you from following company policies regarding gifts, and so



1. Review the employee handbook of the company for which you work (or have worked). What are the

company policies as they relate to travel expenses? How do you substantiate your travel expenses in

order to get reimbursement? What are the company policies as they relate to confidentiality? What kind

of information do you know that might be considered confidential?

2. Identify a situation in which you found yourself facing a conflict of interest: perhaps you had two after-

school activities with equal claims on your time, or maybe you wanted to use your part-time job to give

discounts to your friends. How did you resolve the conflict? Would you handle things differently if faced

with the same situation again?

3. Research a whistle-blower not mentioned in this chapter. Who was he or she, and what did he or she

expose? Do you agree with his or her decision to blow the whistle? Why or why not?

4. Find an example of someone who took part in bribery and was found out. Who was he or she, and what

were the consequences of his or her illegal actions?

5. Describe what is meant by confidentiality. What does a company expect when a company policy states

that employees are bound by confidentiality?

6. Describe the difference between unethical and illegal behavior. Is unethical behavior always illegal?

7. [1] “Fortune Global


d September 1, 2009).

8. [2] Starbucks, Business Ethics and Compliance: Standards of Business

Conduct, (accessed September 1, 2009).

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9. [3] Starbucks, Business Ethics and Compliance: Standards of Business

Conduct, (accessed September 1, 2009).

10. [4] Milton Snoeyenbos, Robert Almeder, and James Humber, Business Ethics (Amherst, NY: Prometheus

Books, 2001), 133.

11. [5] Michael McDonald, “Ethics and Conflict of Interest,” University of British Columbia Centre for Applied


t.htm (accessed September 1, 2009).

12. [6] “Bribe,” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam- (accessed September 1, 2009).

13. [7] “California Non-compete Agreements,”

Lawzilla, (accessed September 2, 2009).

14. [8] Gene Quinn, “What Is a Confidentiality Agreement?”


September 2, 2009).

15. [9] “What Is a Trade Secret and How Is It Different from a Patent or Copyright?” HowStuffWorks, April 30,

2001, February 14, 2010).

16. [10] Russell Beck, “Noncompete Agreements That Don’t Mean What They Say,” Journal of New England

Technology, September 5, 2008,

agreements-that-dont-mean-what-they-say.html (accessed February 14, 2010).

17. [11] Chuck Salter, “Jeffrey Wigand: The Whistle-Blower,” Fast Company, December 19,

2007, (accessed February 14, 2010).

18. [12] Jeffrey Wigand, “Biography,” (accessed September 2, 2009).

19. [13] Cornell University Law School, “Retaliating against a Witness, Victim, or

Informant,” (accessed September 2, 2009).

20. [14] Danielle Citron, “Twitter Fraud,” Concurring Opinions, June 10,

2009, (accessed September 2,


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21. [15] Donald S. Clark, “The Robinson-Patman Act: General Principles, Commission Proceedings, and

Selected Issues,” Federal Trade Commission Web site, June 7,

1995, (accessed September 2, 1010).

22. [16] Federal Trade Commission, “The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business,” September

2009, February 14, 2010).

23. [17] Paul Roberts, “Arrest, but No Relief from IM Spam,” InfoWorld, February 22,

2005, (accessed September 2,


24. [18] Boye Lafayette de Mente, Japan’s Cultural Code Words (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing,

2004), 225.

25. [19] S. E. Smith, “What Is Baksheesh?” wiseGEEK,

baksheesh.htm (accessed February 14, 2010).

26. [20] Michael Crichton, Rising Sun (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992), 136.

4.3 Selling U: Selling Your Personal Brand Ethically—Résumés
and References


1. Learn about the ethics of your résumé.

2. Understand how to ask references to speak honestly on your behalf.

You’ve been asked to submit your résumé because your roommate knows someone in the marketing

department at a major national food company. You really want this job, but you are concerned that

you don’t really have the qualifications yet. As you work on your résumé, you exercise your creativity:

“cashier” becomes “marketing representative.” You add to your skills “management of personnel”—of

course, you don’t have any management experience, but you just know you’ll be good at it. By the

time you’ve finished, you are surprised to realize that, looking at your résumé, you don’t recognize

yourself. Maybe this truth-stretching exercise wasn’t such a good idea.

Behaving in an ethical fashion throughout the hiring process only strengthens your personal brand—

and that’s just good business.

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Selling Yourself versus Stretching the Truth about Your Background and

When you create your résumé, you are selling yourself to potential employers; where do you draw the line

between putting your best foot forward and stretching the truth past the breaking point? The difference

between “attended Pacific Coast Baptist College” and “received degrees in theology and psychology from

Pacific Coast Baptist College” can be the difference between a successful tenure and an embarrassing

resignation, as former RadioShack CEO David Edmondson discovered in 2006. [1] Edmondson, by

claiming that he had earned degrees he had not (and, in one case, a degree not even offered by the

college), set the stage for the embarrassing scandal that cost him his job. It can be tempting to gamble on

the likelihood that an employer won’t do a background check—but even if you get away with a fib once or

twice, it’s not something you should bet on for your entire career. Social networking will out you. The

Internet has led to professional networks that are incredibly far reaching; your boss may have a

connection on LinkedIn to a manager at the company you pretend to have interned for. And, of course,

lying on your résumé is unethical; you should sell yourself, not an exaggerated version of yourself.

Your experiences as a waitress, cashier, retail store salesperson, babysitter, or any other part-time or

summer job can be very valuable on your résumé. Being able to demonstrate that you can multitask under

pressure, resolve problems quickly to customers’ satisfaction, be responsible, or increase sales are the

types of skills that prospective employers are looking for from entry-level employees. Use your experience

to tell a story about what makes you different and delivers value to your prospective employer. For

example, if you want to pursue a career in finance, your experience handling money and balancing the

cash drawer at the end of the day is important to highlight on your résumé. It’s also a good idea to put

your most important and relevant internships or jobs first on your résumé rather than adhering to the

traditional chronological order. Since you are just beginning your career, your most important jobs can be

listed first. When you gain more experience, it’s better to use the chronological format. The bottom line is

that you have a brand story to tell on your résumé; no matter what your background, you don’t need to

stretch the truth.

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Prospective employers want to see evidence that you are hardworking and have done things to distinguish

yourself by holding part-time jobs, completing internships, participating in professional organizations,

performing community service, and gaining other experiences. But one thing to remember about entry-

level positions in virtually every industry is that none of the hiring companies expects you to come in and

do the job from day one. The company will train you to do the job it wants done. That doesn’t mean that

you won’t be asked to “jump in” and do things, because you will. But companies don’t expect you to have

skills and experience that you will have after a few years of working. So use your résumé to sell yourself in

an honest but compelling way.

Asking References to Speak about Your Personal Brand

References, simply put, are people you can rely on to speak on your behalf; they come in two flavors,

personal and professional. Personal references are people like aunts or family friends—

professional references are by far the more important and are usually supervisors, professors, or

managers. While some prospective employers may accept personal references, you should have at least

three professional references available if a prospective employer asks for them.

You might be wondering what employers do when they receive your references.

When choosing references, be sure that the people you have in mind have good things to say about you.

It’s a good idea to keep in touch with your former boss from your internship or summer job. People with

whom you have had a good working relationship can be excellent references. It’s always best to contact

someone whom you would like to be a reference in person or on the phone. That way you will be able to let

them know exactly how much you respect her, and it will give you an opportunity to cement your

professional relationship. If she shows any kind of hesitation, you may not want to use her as a reference.

When you speak to a prospective reference, be professional and be specific. Here’s an example of a

conversation you might have with a professor whom you are asking to be a reference. If you are asking a

professor, it’s best to make an appointment or stop by his office.
You: Dr. Feng, I wanted to stop by and give you an update on my job search.

Dr. Feng: Great. I would like to hear about what companies you are interested in.

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Well, I’ve been trying to get a sales position at one of the pharmaceutical companies in the

city. I think that’s what I’d like to do since I enjoy sales and I am very interested in science and

medicine. So I’ve sent my cover letter and résumé to all the pharmaceutical companies, and I

have a second interview with Ainion Pharmaceuticals next Thursday. I was wondering if you

would be a reference for me. They are looking for a sales assistant—someone who is

organized, analytical, good with follow-up, and is a creative thinker. I thought that you might

be able to speak about my work for the research practicum. I think it’s a great example of my

work ethic and drive as well as my attention to detail and ability to solve problems creativity.

Dr. Feng:
I would be happy to speak on your behalf. It sounds like the position could be a good fit for

your skills. I’ll let you know when someone from the company contacts me.

Dr. Feng, thank you very much. I really appreciate all that you have done to help me start my

career. I’ll let you know how the interview goes on Thursday.

Once you know whom you’d like for your references, ask them. This is not a situation in which you want to

surprise people. Instead, talk with each person; you should personally speak with each person, preferably

in person or by phone as opposed to by e-mail. (By all means, avoid the group e-mail requesting

references.) Explain what the job is that you are applying for and ask for her permission to list her as a

reference. Always personally thank each of your references, even if you don’t get the job. Express your

gratitude—preferably in a handwritten note, but you must at least send an e-mail and let them know how

things turned out. Don’t feel as if you let down your references if you didn’t get the job. Each of your

references was in your situation at one point in time, and she didn’t get an offer from every job interview.

Stay positive and keep in touch with your references. They will appreciate it, and you will keep your

professional network strong.

If your potential employer wants references, he or she will ask for them; you should have them already

prepared, but they should not be listed on your résumé.

You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
Reference Checks

When you are asked to provide references, you will need to provide for each reference: full name, mailing

address, phone number, e-mail address, employer, job title, e-mail address, and relationship to you. Have

the information collected in a professional document (see ). Remember to get someone’s permission

before listing him or her as a reference every time; the fact that your internship supervisor was willing to

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be a reference two years ago doesn’t mean that you can take his assent for granted in the future. Your

references are chosen to be advocates for you—in return for their generosity of spirit, do them the

courtesy of asking whether they are still willing to speak well of you.

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Figure 4.4Sample References

Letters of Recommendation

As you go through classes and internships, collect letters of recommendation for your portfolio; such

letters demonstrate that people think highly of you. When you finish a class in which you did well, ask

your professor for a letter of recommendation. When you finish an internship, ask your supervisor. Not

only will these letters demonstrate your credibility, they will help to build your confidence. It’s a good idea

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to ask each of your references to write a letter of recommendation for you. That way you can bring the

letters to your interview to demonstrate the support you have from professionals.

Don’t hesitate to reread your letters after you’ve had a career setback. If you’re going to effectively sell

yourself, you need to believe in your personal brand. A reminder that Dr. Messimer thinks that you’re

awesome could be just the pick-me-up you need in order to dust yourself off and reenter the job market

with aplomb.

• Lying on your résumé is not ethical and can have catastrophic consequences for your career.

• It is in your best interests to market yourself on your résumé—list your internships first, then your jobs,

including any “nonprofessional” jobs that are important to the history of your personal brand.

• Personal references are family and friends; professional references are people whom you have worked

with, and are vastly more important.

• Have at least three professional references available. Present your references only if asked for them; do

not include them on your résumé.

• Speak to each of your references before you provide their name and contact information to a prospective

employer. Get their permission, thank them, and let them know how things worked out.

• Letters of recommendation are important testaments to your character and abilities; when you finish an

internship or a class, ask your supervisor or professor for a letter of recommendation. Letters of

recommendation are excellent to present with your list of references.


1. Identify three people you could potentially use as professional references. Create a references sheet

using the information for these people.

2. Ask one of your former supervisors or a professor to write a letter of recommendation for you.
[1] Associated Press, “RadioShack CEO Resigns amid Resume Questions,” USA Today, February 20,
2006, (accessed February

14, 2010).

4.4 Review and Practice
Power Wrap-Up

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Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand ethical behavior in selling as well

as how to determine what the ethical decision is in a given situation.

• You can understand why behaving ethically is important to selling.

• You can describe how ethical decision making works.

• You can identify different ethical pitfalls, including bribery and conflicts of interest.

• You can understand how to locate and implement company policies.

• You can implement ethical decision making in the workplace.

• You can recognize an ethical challenge and know how to respond.

• You can analyze a company’s ethics based on their mission statement and philosophy.

• You can organize your work experience on a résumé in a way that is both honest and effective.

• You can understand how to integrate references into your job search.
T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

1. What is ethical behavior?

2. What is an ethical dilemma?

3. What is an example of personal values?

4. What is an example of corporate values?

5. What is the purpose of a mission statement?

6. Why is your reputation important?

7. Explain how to determine a company’s policies on issues such as gifts, conflicts of interest, and so on.

8. Define a “conflict of interest.”

9. What is whistle-blowing?
P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Following are two roles that are involved in the

same selling situation—one role is the customer, and the other is the salesperson. This will give you the

opportunity to think about this ethical dilemma from the point of view of both the customer and the


Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role

play in groups or individually.

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Ethics that Work

Role: Sales rep for Rold Gold, a fine jewelry wholesaler

You are a sales rep for Rold Gold, a jewelry wholesaler that specializes in high-end gold jewelry. The

holidays are coming, and one of your best customers, the owner of an independent jewelry store, has sent

you an expensive gift in appreciation for all that you have done to help her increase her business over the

past year. Your employee handbook makes it clear that you could be fired for accepting it, but you didn’t

actually accept it; it just turned up at your home, neatly wrapped, with a card attached. What will you do?

• Since no one will know that you received the gift, should you just keep it?

• If you decide to return the gift, what will you say to your customer?

• Will you write a thank-you note?

• If you decide to return the gift, what is the best way to do so?

• What, if anything, will you tell your sales manager?

Role: Owner, Jewels to the World jewelry store

You are the owner of a popular jewelry store. It has been a challenging year given the state of the

economy. One of your sales reps has really gone above and beyond the call of duty to help you increase

your business throughout the year with extra training, cost reductions, and promotional ideas. You want

to let him know that you appreciate all he does to support your business, so you send him a very generous

gift. You are not aware of any reason he wouldn’t accept it. Nonetheless, you have it sent directly to his

home to avoid any appearance of impropriety. You would be extremely disappointed if he didn’t accept

your gift.

• What will you say when the sales rep calls to thank you for your gift?

• If the sales rep decides not to accept the gift, will you insist that he keep it?

• If the sales rep doesn’t accept your gift, will it have an impact on your relationship?

• Will you expect special pricing and other deals in return for your gift?
P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

1. Identify at least one professor who might be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Approach

him or her and make the request—be prepared to talk about your career aspirations. Be sure to choose a

professor in whose class you received a good grade and who likely remembers you.

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2. What influences your values? Make a list of your values and try to determine their origin. Do they come

from your parents, your church, or your own experiences?

3. Use the Internet to find a company whose mission statement and values statement reflects your mission

and values. Write a cover letter to that company explaining why you would be a good hire.


1. Ethical behavior is morality applied to specific situations; it is behavior that addresses your obligations.

2. An ethical dilemma is a situation in which options are presented that may be right or wrong.

3. Personal values include (but are not limited to) honesty, integrity, accountability, drive, determination,

and sincerity.

4. Corporate values may be the same as personal values, which may also include teamwork, open and

honest communication, and diversity.

5. The process and reason for creating a mission statement, whether it is for a person or a company, is the

same: to develop a roadmap, a guide by which all future decisions will be made.

6. When you work in sales, you are selling yourself; you will have greater success with customers if you are

someone they want to “buy.” When a customer buys from you, they are investing in your reputation.

7. The employee handbook will outline the company’s policies concerning gift giving, nondisclosure of

company information, and other areas of behavior.

8. A conflict of interest is “a situation in which a person, such as a public official, an employee, or a

professional, has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of

his or her official duties.”

9. Whistle-blowing is the act of publicly exposing the misconduct of a company or organization.

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Chapter 5
The Power of Effective Communication

5.1 Ready, Set, Communicate

1. Understand the elements of effective business communication.

2. Recognize the implications of different types of verbal and nonverbal communication.

3. Learn how your dress communicates in an interview and the workplace.

4. Discuss how technology tools can help a salesperson manage customer relationships.

A text message.

A voice mail.

A passing comment.

A Facebook post.

An unreturned phone call.

Have you ever had one of these communications be misinterpreted? You meant one thing, but your

friend thought you meant something else? Sometimes, the miscommunication can result in the

confusion of a meeting time or a place to get together. Or worse, it can be entirely misunderstood and

may have a negative impact on your relationship.

Communication, the exchange of information or ideas between sender and receiver, is a challenging

aspect in your personal life, at school, and especially in selling. Today, it’s even more complex with

business being conducted around the world and with varying communication methods. In this

constant, high-speed business environment, communication blunders can cost you more than you

might think. Did you ever hear the saying, “You only have one chance to make a good first

impression”? It couldn’t be truer when it comes to communication: The first two seconds of

communication are so important that it takes another four minutes to add 50 percent more

information to an impression—positive or negative—within that communication. [1]Communication

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has often been referred to as a soft skill, which includes other competencies such as social graces,

personality traits, language abilities, and ability to work with other people. Soft skills also encompass

emotional intelligence, which Adele B. Lynn, in her book The EQ Interview: Finding Employees with

High Emotional Intelligence, defines as “a person’s ability to manage herself as well as her

relationship with others so she can live her intentions.” [2] But in today’s business world,

communication has become part of the new “hard skills” category, a technical job requirement,

because of the critical role that it plays in business. [3] According to Peter Post, great-grandson of the

late Emily Post, “Your skills can get you in the door; your people skills are what can seal the deal.” [4]

Misunderstood = Miscommunicated

In you learned about the importance of relationships. In fact, it is almost impossible to be in sales without

developing relationships inside your organization and with your customers. Your relationship skills build

trust, allow you to be a true partner, and help solve your customer’s problems; both internal trust and

external communication are essential keys to your ability to deliver on your promises. How are these

qualities intrinsically related? The way in which you communicate can determine the level of trust that

your colleagues or customers have in you. [5]

Just like relationships are the cornerstone of trust, communication is the foundation of relationships. But

it’s difficult to establish and develop relationships; it takes work and a lot of clear communication. You

might think that sounds simple, but consider this: Nearly 75 percent of communications that are received

are interpreted incorrectly. At the same time, interestingly, many people consider themselves good

communicators. The telling disconnect occurs because people tend to assume that they know what other

people mean or people assume that others know what they mean. This is compounded by the fact that

people tend to hear what they want to hear—that is, a person may interpret elements of a conversation in

such a way that the taken meanings contribute to his already established beliefs. When you put these

assumptions together, communication can easily become “miscommunication.” [6]

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The Communication Model

The standard model of communication has evolved based on two parties—the sender and the receiver—

exchanging information or ideas. The model includes major processes and functions categorized

as encoding, decoding, response, and feedback. In addition, the model accounts for noise, which

symbolizes anything that might disrupt the sending or receiving of a message.[7] The communication

model is shown in .

Figure 5.1 Traditional Communication Process [8]

The model helps describe exactly how communication takes place. For example, if you send a text

message to your friend to ask him if he wants to go a movie, you are the source, or sender, of the message.

You translated or encoded your message into text characters. A personal digital assistant (PDA) such as a

BlackBerry, iPhone, or cell phone is the channel, or the method by which you communicated your

message. Chances are, if your friend does not have his PDA or cell phone with him, your message will not

reach him, and you might miss the movie. So in this example, the PDA or cell phone is the channel. When

your friend, the receiver, reads the message, he decodes it or determines what you meant to communicate,

and then he responds. If he was talking to another friend while he was reading your text message and

didn’t see the time the movie started, that conversation would be considered noise because it would be

interfering with the communication of your message. Noise interferes with communication or causes

distraction, whether it is heard or seen. When your friend responds to you by saying that he wants to go

see the movie, he is providing feedback (or a response to your message). shows this example applied to

the communication model.

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The same thing can happen in a selling situation. For example, if you call a prospect to set up a meeting,

you are the sender. The message is the meeting information (e.g., date, time, and place) that you encode

into words. The channel is the telephone, and the receiver is the prospect. It sounds easy enough. Assume,

however, that the prospect responds to you and agrees to the meeting. But because he was checking his e-

mails while he was talking to you (which is noise), he puts the wrong time on his calendar. When you

come for the appointment, he’s out of the office, and your sales call doesn’t take place. Now you have to

start the communication process all over again. This is only an example of simply setting up a meeting.

Now imagine the challenges if you started explaining the features and benefits of a complex product or

negotiating a contract. You can see why understanding the communication process is so important in


Figure 5.2 Communication Process Example

Did You Know…?
• Positive e-mail messages are likely to be interpreted as neutral.

• Neutral e-mail messages are likely to be perceived as negative.

• People who send e-mails overrate their ability to communicate feelings.

• There is a gap between how a sender feels when he writes the e-mail and the way the emotional

content is communicated that can cause an error in decoding on the part of the receiver.

• One simple e-mail can lead to a communication debacle if the e-mail is not clearly written and well

thought out from the recipient’s point of view. [9]

Effective Communication

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How do you avoid the pitfalls of poor communication and build productive business relationships? It’s

best to always communicate in a timely manner and in the method that your customer prefers. That may

be easier said than done. Here are six tips that can help you increase your chances of making your

communications effective.

Tip 1: Empathy Is Essential

One of the key elements of being a good communicator is having empathy. That means thinking about

your communication from the receiver’s point of view. It’s focusing on what she wants to learn as a result

of your communication, not what you want to tell her. Empathy is about demonstrating that you care

about the other person’s situation. Think about when you received your acceptance letter from your

college; the letter probably mentioned what an exciting time it is in your life. The author of the letter

demonstrated empathy because she focused on the situation from your perspective. A purely factual letter,

without empathy, might have said that you were accepted and that now the school can make their budget

since they met their enrollment goal. That would be quite a different letter and would make you feel very

different (and probably not very welcome). Although it’s always best to be candid, you should deliver

information from the receiver’s point of view and address her concerns. [10]

Empathy is an integral part of emotional connection, one of the elements of a brand that you learned

about in . (Keep in mind that when you are in sales, you are the brand to the customer.) It is especially

important to have an emotional connection and empathy when apologizing to customers. Chances are the

customer is already angry, or at least disappointed, when you are not able to deliver as expected. You can

express empathy in your communications by saying or writing, “You have every right to be upset. I

understand how you must feel. I apologize for the late delivery. Let’s work on a new process that will help

prevent it from happening again.” [11] Some of the best brands have disappointed their customers but

showed empathy when they apologized. For example, the letter from then JetBlue CEO David Neeleman

shown in is an example of a letter of apology that demonstrates empathy and emotional connection and

also offers corrective action.

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Figure 5.3 Letter of Apology from JetBlue [12]

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Tip 2: Think Before You Communicate

Quick responses, whether verbal or via electronic methods, can be less effective than those that are

considered and can even cause misunderstanding. Although a timely response is critical, it’s worth a few

minutes to think about exactly what you want to say before you say it (or type it).

Tip 3: Be Clear

It seems obvious, but not everyone is clear in his communications. Sometimes, people are trying to avoid

“bad news” or trying to avoid taking a stand on a topic. It’s always best to avoid confusion and clearly say

what you mean by framing your message in a way that is easily understood by all receivers. It’s also a good

idea to avoid buzz words (or jargon)—those words, phrases, or acronyms that are used only in your

company. If they can’t be avoided, explain them in the same communication terms. You should also avoid

jargon on your résumé and cover letter—help your reader see your brand story at a glance without

needing a decoder ring.

Tip 4: Be Brief

Business communication should be short and to the point. Your customers are busy and need

information—whether it’s a proposal, report, or follow-up to a question—in a clear, concise way. It’s best

to avoid being verbose, especially in any business plans, proposals, or other significant documents. [13]

Tip 5: Be Specific

If you go to dinner at Cheesecake Factory and there is a wait to get a table, the hostess will hand you a

portable pager and tell you that the wait will be twenty to twenty-five minutes. Perfect. You have just

enough time to run a quick errand at a nearby store at the mall and be back in time to get your table. If, on

the other hand, she told you that you will be seated shortly, you might have an expectation of being seated

in five to ten minutes. Meanwhile, “shortly” might mean twenty to twenty-five minutes for her. You would

probably forgo running your errand because you think you are going to be seated soon but end up waiting

for twenty-five minutes and being frustrated. Being specific in your communication not only gives clarity

to your message but also helps set your customer’s expectations. In other words, your customer won’t

expect something you can’t deliver if you are clear about what exactly you can deliver and when. The same

is true for prices. For example, if you order from the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, you know precisely

what you will get to eat and how much it will cost. However, if there is a menu special that you heard

about tableside, but weren’t told how much the dish was, you might be surprised (and disappointed) when

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you receive the check. Specificity avoids surprises and sets expectations. See some examples in of general

statements that can be communicated more effectively when made into specific statements.

Table 5.1 General versus Specific Statements
General Statement Specific Statement

I’ll get back to you shortly. I’ll get back to you by Tuesday.

It will only take a few minutes. It will take less than 5 minutes.

It will cost about $5,000 plus installation. The cost is $4,800 plus $200 for installation.

Everything is included. It includes your choice of entrée, vegetable, dessert, and coffee.

Tip 6: Be Timely

Timing is everything in life and most certainly in selling. It’s best to be proactive with communication,

and if you owe someone a response, do it sooner rather than later. If you are slow to respond to questions

and communication, it will be difficult to develop trust, as prolonged responses may seem to imply that

you are taking action without informing the customer what it is you are doing. Timing is especially

important when you are communicating a negative response or bad news. Don’t put it off; do it as soon as

possible and give your customer the benefit of complete information.

Rules of Engagement
At the beginning of each relationship, ask your customer how he prefers to communicate. Getting the

answers to these simple questions will save time and confusion throughout your relationship and help

ensure good communication.

• How do you prefer to receive regular communication (e-mail, text, phone, in person, hard copy)?

• What can I expect as a standard turnaround time for response to questions and issues?

• How do you prefer to receive urgent communication (e-mail, text, phone)?

• Who else (if anyone) in the organization would you like to also receive communication from me?

• When is the best time to touch base with you (early morning, midday, or later in the afternoon)?

• How frequently would you like a status update and in what format (e-mail, phone, in person)?

Listen Up

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While you may think you are ready to communicate, it’s a good idea to stop and listen first. Creating your

message is only half of communication; listening is the other half. But it’s difficult to listen because we

listen faster than we speak—that is, based on what the other person is saying, we are already constructing

responses in our minds before they have even finished. As a result, many people are guilty of “listening too

fast.” [14] Cicero once said that it is good thing that humans were given one mouth and two ears, in light of

the way we use them. [15]

Listening, in fact, is so important that companies like Starbucks believe that it may directly improve

profits. According to Alan Gulick, a Starbucks Corporation spokesperson, if every Starbucks employee

misheard one $10 order each day, it would cost the company one billion dollars in a year. [16]That’s why

Starbucks has a process to teach their employees how to listen. Although listening may seem passive, it is

actively linked to success: One study conducted in the insurance industry found that better listeners held

higher positions and got promoted more than those who did not have developed listening skills. [17] So it’s

worth it to hone your listening skills now so that when you get into the business world you can be

successful. Here are a few tips:

• Use active listening. Confirm that you heard the sender correctly by saying something like, “Just to

be sure I understand, we are going to move forward with twelve cases for your initial order, then

revisit your inventory in five days.” Review the communication model above and take notice of the

importance of decoding. If you decode a message from your customer incorrectly, the communication

is ineffective and could even be costly. In the example above, the customer might have said in

response, “I meant that the initial order should be five cases, and we’ll revisit the inventory in twelve

days.” That’s a big difference.

• Ask questions. Questions are a way to gather more information and learn about your customer and

their business. They are also an excellent way to demonstrate that you are communicating by

listening. You learned in that asking the right questions is critical to being a successful salesperson.

Focus on listening and asking the right questions, and you’ll be rewarded with great information.

• Focus. Although multitasking has seemingly become a modern virtue, focus actually helps create

more effective communication. Stop and focus on your customer when he is speaking. This is a sign of

respect, and this concentration allows you to absorb more information. Take notes to remember

exactly what you discussed. There’s nothing more important than what your customer has to say. [18]

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• Take notes. While it may seem like you will remember everything that is said at a meeting or during

a conversation, taking notes signals that you are listening, and it provides you with an accurate record

of what was said. “The palest ink is better than the best memory.” [19]
Are You a Good Listener?

Take this quiz to find out if you are a good listener.

There’s More to Communication than Meets the Eye…or Ear

It’s important to remember that you will be communicating with many different people about many

different topics in selling. Sometimes, you will be communicating one-on-one and sometimes you will be

communicating with a group. Just as people have varying social styles (as you’ve learned in ), it’s

important to know that people also absorb information differently. Research conducted in the 1970s

indicates that people comprehend information in four distinct ways:

• Why. They want to know the reasons for doing something.

• What. They want to know the facts about it.

• How. They want to know only the information they need to get it done.

• What if. They want to know the consequences of doing it.

This can be a helpful road map of the elements you will want to include in your communications,

especially if you are communicating with a group, since you may not know everyone’s best method of

absorbing information. It’s been proven that if people don’t receive the type of communication they

prefer, they tend to tune out or reject the information.

You’ve probably noticed that both people and brands communicate the same message multiple times and

usually in multiple ways. Creative repetition is key to successful communication. Think about the

advertising Pepsi ran when it launched its new logo in early 2009; you most likely saw the television

commercial during the Super Bowl, noticed a billboard in a high-traffic area of a major city, received an e-

mail, saw banner ads on the Internet, reviewed the commercial on YouTube, and saw the new logo on the

packaging. Pepsi’s ad campaign illustrates the “three-times convincer” concept, which claims that 80

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percent of people need to be exposed a message three times to buy into it, 15 percent need to be exposed

to it five times, and 5 percent need to be exposed to it up to twenty-five times. [20] You may have seen the

message so many times that it’s hard to remember what the old logo even looked like.

Types of Communication

It is important to use multiple types of communication so that repetition does not become boring like a

broken record. There are three types of communication: verbal, which involves speaking to one or many

people to convey a message; nonverbal, which includes body language and other observations about

people; and written, which includes a message that is read in hard copy, e-mail, text message, instant

message, Facebook, Twitter, blog, or other Internet-based written communication. [21] Varying the usage

of these mediums can help ensure your customer’s attention, but you must carefully develop each skill

separately to communicate effectively.

Verbal Communication

An introduction, a presentation, a telephone conversation, a videoconference call: these are all examples

of verbal communication because information is transmitted orally. Despite the ubiquitous use of

technology in the business world, verbal communication is the most common method of exchanging

information and ideas. Verbal communication is powerful, fast, and natural and includes voice inflections

that help senders and receivers understand the message more clearly. The downside to verbal

communication is that once it is spoken, the words are essentially gone; they are preserved only in the

memory of those present, and sometimes the memories of the specific words spoken vary dramatically.

The he-said-she-said argument is an example of this. No one really knows who said what unless the words

are recorded. Recall is rarely exactly the same between two or more people.

Voice inflection, the verbal emphasis you put on certain words, can have a significant impact on the

meaning of what you say. In fact, the same words can take on completely different meaning based on the

inflection you use. For example, if you say the sentence in with an inflection on a different word each time,

the sentence communicates something completely different each time.

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Figure 5.4 The Impact of Intonation

Source: Based on ideas in Kiely, M. (October, 1993). When “no” means “yes.” Marketing, 7–9.

Verbal communication may take place face-to-face, such as an in-person conversation or group meeting,

speech, or presentation. It could also take place by phone in an individual conversation, a conference call,

or even a voice mail. Other forms of verbal communication include videoconferences, podcasts,

and Webinars, which are increasingly common in business. All these methods allow you to use inflection

to communicate effectively. Face-to-face meetings also provide the opportunity to use and interpret other

visual cues to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

Verbal communication is especially important throughout the steps of the selling process. Your choice of

words can make the difference in someone’s decision to first hear your sales presentation, and your

presentation can determine whether that person will purchase your product or service. You will learn

more specifically about how communication is used throughout the selling process covered in later


Nonverbal Communication

Imagine that you are in a retail store buying a suit for an interview. When the salesperson approaches you,

she smiles, makes eye contact, and shakes your hand. You respond positively. You notice that she is

dressed professionally, so she makes you feel as if you will receive good fashion advice from her. When

you make your choice, the tailor comes over wearing a tape measure around his neck. You know he is a

professional and you can trust him to alter your new suit properly. On the other hand, if the salesperson

waits on you only after you interrupt her personal phone call, doesn’t make eye contact or shake your

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hand, acts as if she is bored being at work, and is dressed in worn jeans and flip-flops, it’s unlikely that

you trust her to help you choose your suit.

You have, no doubt, used and noticed nonverbal communication in virtually every personal encounter you

have had. Think about it: A gesture, a smile, a nod, eye contact, what you are wearing, the fact that you are

frequently checking your cell phone for text messages, and how close you stand to someone are all

examples of nonverbal communication.

Nonverbal communication is extremely powerful. In fact, some studies indicate that the influence from

nonverbal communication such as tone and visuals can have a greater impact than the spoken words. Dr.

Albert Mehrabian, a famed psychologist and professor emeritus of psychology at University of California,

Los Angeles, is considered a pioneer in the area of body language and nonverbal communication. His

research includes an equation, called theMehrabian formula, [22] that is frequently used to define the

relative impact of verbal and nonverbal messages based on experiments of communication of feelings and

attitudes. Dr. Mehrabian developed the formula shown in to define how communication takes place.

Figure 5.5 The Mehrabian Formula

The Mehrabian formula is used to explain situations in which verbal communication and nonverbal

communication do not match. In other words, when facial expressions contradict words, people tend to

believe the facial expressions. [23]

Types of Nonverbal Communication
• Handshake

• Body language

• Gestures

• Nodding or shaking your head

• Eye contact (or lack of eye contact)

• Eye roll

• Facial expressions

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• Touch

• Space or proximity

• Dress

• Multitasking (e.g., texting while listening to someone, earphones in ears while working)

Your Handshake Says It All

In some countries, you might bow when you meet someone; in others you might kiss; but when you meet

someone for a business meeting in the United States, it’s best to shake hands. [24] Although fist bumps and

high fives may be trendy as friendly greetings, neither is appropriate in a business setting.

Be Memorable
Here’s a networking tip: When you shake hands with people at a meeting, they are two times more likely

to remember you than if you don’t shake hands, according to a recent study conducted by the Incomm

Center for Trade Show Research. [25]

The exact history of the handshake is unknown; however, at one time it was used as method to prove that

you had no weapons in your hands. [26] A good handshake is essential in business; it is the first nonverbal

cue that you give to the person with whom you are meeting. It’s so important to have a good handshake

that a recent study conducted at the University of Iowa showed that during mock interviews, those

students who scored as having a better handshake were also considered more hirable by interviewers.

According to Greg Stewart, a business professor who conducted the study said, “We found that the first

impression begins with a handshake and sets the tone for the rest of the interview.” [27]

Do you think you have a good handshake? Believe it or not, it’s worth practicing your handshake. Here are

five tips for a good handshake:

1. Extend your right hand when you are approximately three feet away from the person with whom you

want to shake hands. [28]

2. Keep your wrist straight and lock hands connecting your hand with the same part of the other

person’s hand. [29] Apply appropriate pressure; don’t crush the person’s hand.

3. Shake up and down three or four times. [30]

4. Avoid the “wet fish” handshake. [31] This is where practice is really important. The more you shake

hands, the less nervous you will be.

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5. Smile and make eye contact. [32] This is your opportunity to use multiple types of nonverbal

communication to get your meeting or interview off to a good start.

Shake on It

What does your handshake say about you?

Body Language

Do you use your hands when you talk? If so, you are using body language to help make your point. But

body language includes more than talking with your hands. Body language is what we say without words;

nonverbal communication using your body includes elements such as gestures, facial expressions, eye

contact, a head tilt, a nod, and even where and how you sit. Body language can indicate an unspoken

emotion or sentiment that a person might be feeling either consciously or subconsciously. Body language

can indicate if you are listening to someone and are engaged in what he is saying, disagreeing with him, or

getting bored. (You might want to think twice about the body language you are using in class.) It’s

important that you are aware of what you communicate with your body language and to understand and

respond to the cues you are getting from someone else’s body language.

Do You Speak Body?
Here are some common examples of body language and what they mean.[33], [34]

• Crossed arms: discomfort

• Spreading fingers: territorial display

• Mirroring (i.e., mimicking your body position to another’s): comfort

• Drumming or tapping fingers: frustration

• Hands on hips: there is an issue

• Hands behind the back: “leave me alone”

• Hands clasped, thumbs up: positive

• Thumbs down: don’t like

• Hands clasped with fingers forming a steeple: confidence

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• Touch neck: insecurity

• Crossed legs: comfort

• Glancing at watch: concerned about time or bored

Body language is not just an interesting topic to consider; it’s a proven science that can help you improve

your communication. Make eye contact with the person to whom you are speaking. Eye contact

avoidance can be distracting and can prevent you from establishing a relationship as shown in this video.

• Smile when you meet someone and throughout the conversation. A smile is a positive response to

another person and has a significant impact on how people perceive you. A smile can break the ice

and help you start a conversation.

• Dress for success at all times, which means always dressing appropriately for the situation.

The Selling U section in this chapter covers how to dress for an interview. But it’s best to keep in mind

that even after you get the job you want, it’s a good idea to dress a little better than the position. Even

in very casual work environments, what you wear is a nonverbal communication about who you are. If

you don’t dress for the next promotion, chances are you won’t be considered for it. Be aware of the

company policy and dress code, and if in doubt, dress more conservatively. This podcast featuring

Peter Post discusses how to handle casual dress in the workplace.

Written Communication

Although verbal and nonverbal communications usually take place in real time, written communication

has a longer consideration period. The sender must encode the message in words to be communicated on

paper or a screen. [35]Business reports, proposals, memos, e-mails, text messages, Web sites, blogs, wikis,

and more are all examples of written communication. Each of them is created over a period of time and

can include collaboration from multiple people. Collaboration is especially important for communicating,

planning, and creating documents so many people use tools such as wikis to share documents.

Written communication is preferred to verbal communication when careful consideration is important or

the information needs to be permanent, such as a company policy, sales presentation, or proposal.

Written communication can also take place when verbal communication isn’t an option, like when you

need to respond to an e-mail or text message at 1:00 a.m.

Although verbal communication is faster and more natural than written communication, each has its pros

and cons. Generally, written communication is better at conveying facts, while verbal communication is

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better at conveying feelings. Verbal communication has another significant drawback: consider the fact

that humans listen much faster than they speak. For example, the average public speaker speaks at about

125 words per minute. Although this sounds natural, the average person can listen at 400 to 500 words

per minute. That means that listeners’ minds have time and space to wander, which can impact the

effectiveness of verbal communication. [36] (You may have noticed your mind wandering during a class

lecture—even if you found the topic interesting.)

Written communication requires a good command of the English language, including the rules of

grammar and spelling. If you think that business exists solely on quick instant messages and text

messages, you might be surprised to learn that they are only a portion of the communication within a

company and between the company’s vendors and other partners. Because the nature of written

communication is such that it allows time for consideration and composition, the standards for writing

are much higher than for a casual conversation. Customers and colleagues alike expect clear, concise

written communications with proper grammar and spelling. And because written communication is long

lasting—whether on paper or on the Internet—errors or misstatements exist for an irritatingly long time.

So whether you are writing a proposal, a presentation, a report, a meeting recap, or a follow-up e-mail, it’s

best to take the time to think about your communication and craft it so that it is effective. Consider using

the following tips:

• Be short and sweet. Shorter is always better when it comes to business correspondence. It’s best to

include all pertinent facts with concise information. If you write your communication with the

receiver in mind, it will be easier to make it shorter and more effective.

• Grammar, please. Sentences should be structured correctly and use proper grammar, including a

subject and a verb in each sentence. Business correspondence should always include uppercase and

lowercase letters and correct punctuation. [37] If writing is not your strong suit, visit your campus

student services office or learning center to provide information about upcoming writing clinics and

access to other tools that can help improve your writing skills.

• Check spelling. Use the spell-check tool on your computer. There is no excuse for a misspelled

word. Text abbreviations are not acceptable in business correspondence.

• Read before you send. Reread your document or electronic communication before it goes out. Is

everything complete? Is it clear? Is it something you will be proud of days or weeks later? Take the

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extra time to review before you send. It’s difficult to revise a communication as revisions cause


• Just the facts. Stick to the facts to maximize the impact of your written communications; leave the

emotional topics for verbal dialogue. For example, send an e-mail to confirm meeting time, date, and

location; use a verbal communication for the content of the meeting to be discussed, such as a


You Are What You Write
You might not think twice about sending a text to your friend. But in the business world, everything you

write in an e-mail, text message, letter, or memo is a direct reflection of your personal brand. This video

highlights the power of written communication and how it can help you build your personal brand.


Which Is Best?

Although verbal, nonverbal, and written communication all play a role in your communication with your

customers, you might be wondering which one is best. It depends on your customer and on the situation.

Some customers want to work day to day using all the latest technology tools, including text messaging,

social networking, Web conferences, wikis, and more. Other customers prefer more traditional face-to-

face meetings, phone calls, and some e-mail correspondence. Adapt to the method of communication that

your customer prefers and not the other way around. In some situations, a face-to-face meeting is best—

for instance, if you wish to discuss a complex issue, negotiate, or meet some additional members of the

team. Sometimes, a face-to-face meeting isn’t feasible, so other verbal communication methods such as a

videoconference, phone call, or conference call can be efficient and effective if used properly.

Chances are you will use a combination of communication types with each customer tailored to his

particular preferences and situation. Be guided by the fact that you want to keep your communication

personal in meaning and professional in content. Think about it from the receiver’s point of view, and

deliver bad news verbally whenever possible.

Which Is Better: E-mail or Face-to-Face?

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It might seem intuitive, but it’s not always true that a face-to-face meeting is better than an e-mail. It

depends on the type of relationship you have with the person. If you are competitive with her, it’s best to

use e-mail to communicate. According to a study conducted by Robert B. Cialdini and Rosanna Guadagno

in 2002, if you have a more cooperative relationship, a face-to-face meeting is probably a better choice if

it’s physically possible.[38]

• Communication is vital in selling and is the foundation of relationships.

• The communication model describes exactly how communication is sent and received and provides clues

as to how to improve the effectiveness of communication.

• Empathy is thinking about your communication from the receiver’s point of view. Empathy helps build an

emotional connection.

• Effective communication is clear, concise, brief, specific, and timely.

• Creating your message is only one half of communication; listening is the other half. Being a good listener

improves your ability to be a good communicator.

• There are three types of communication: verbal, which involves speaking to one or many people to

convey a message; nonverbal, which includes body language and other observations about people;

and written, which includes a message that is read in hard copy, e-mail, text message, instant message,

Facebook, Twitter, blog, or other Internet-based written communication.

• Verbal communication provides the opportunity to change communication with inflection, or the

emphasis put on certain words in a conversation or presentation.

• Nonverbal communication provides additional insights into the sending and receiving of a message

through gestures, eye contact, proximity, and other elements of body language.

• Your handshake can be one of the most powerful elements of nonverbal communication and sets the

tone for the meeting or interview ahead.

• Written communication includes printed words designed to communicate a message on paper or a

screen and is more permanent than verbal ornonverbal communication.

• Written communication is best used for factual information, whereas verbal communication is best used

for emotional topics or those that require discussion.

• The best method of communication depends on your customer’s preferences and on the situation.

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1. Choose an advertisement online or in a magazine. Apply the communication model by answering the

following questions: Who is the source? What is the message? How is the message encoded? What is the

channel with which it is communicated? How is the message decoded? Who is the receiver? What might

be an example of potential noise that would interfere with the communication of the message? How can

the sender receive feedback from the receiver?

2. Are you a good listener? Complete this online listening activity to see how well you


3. Can you listen to directions accurately? Take this online listening exercise to see how well you


4. Test your listening skills. Do this exercise with a partner, one is the speaker and one is the listener. The

speaker has three minutes to describe what he is looking for in a vacation destination. The listener has to

use active listening skills. Then, the listener has three minutes to “sell” a destination to the speaker, based

on what the speaker said he wanted. The speaker has one minute to review how close the listener was to

his destination. Reverse roles and repeat.

5. Name the three types of communication and give an example for each one. How might the

communication be misinterpreted in each example? How might the communication be made more

effective in each example?

6. Visit a local retailer that uses personal selling and ask a salesperson questions about purchasing a product

or service. Identify three types of communication the salesperson uses. Were they effective? Why or why


7. Identify four examples of nonverbal communication you observe in class. What does each example


8. Visit your campus student services or learning center and learn about the resources that are available to

help you develop your writing skills. What information, classes, or workshops are available? Which ones

sound like they might be helpful? Why?

9. Consider this situation: You are a salesperson who has to tell your customers that the original shipping

date will not be met and the new date is one week later. What are the four things that your customers

would want to know?

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10. Visit to set up a wiki for the class. Discuss a situation in which you could use a

wiki for class projects, campus activities, or other personal projects. Discuss a situation in which a

salesperson might use a wiki with a customer.

11. [1] Dave Rothfield, “Communicating Simply, Directly Will Improve You, Your Business,”Orlando Business

Journal, May 15,

2009, July

12, 2009).

12. [2] “Interviewing for Emotional Intelligence,” Selling Power Hiring & Recruiting eNewsletter, October 15,

2008, (accessed March 16, 2010).

13. [3] Patricia M. Buhler, “Managing in the New Millennium: Six Tips to More Effective

Communication,” Supervision 70, no. 7 (July 2009): 19.

14. [4] The Emily Post Institute, (accessed July 13, 2009).

15. [5] Gail Fann Thomas, Roxanne Zoliln, and Jackie L. Harman, “The Central Role of Communication in

Developing Trust and Its Effect on Employee Involvement,” Journal of Business Communication 46, no. 3

(July 2009): 287.

16. [6] Patricia M. Buhler, “Managing in the New Millennium: Six Tips to More Effective

Communication,” Supervision 70, no. 7 (July 2009): 19.

17. [7] George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing

Communications Perspective, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 146.

18. [9] Jeremy Dean, “Avoid Email Miscommunication,” PsyBlog,

email-miscommunication.php (accessed July 15, 2009).

19. [10] Steve Adubato, “Empathy Is Essential to Effective Communication,” NJBiz,http://www.stand- (accessed July 14, 2009).

20. [11] Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication, 6th ed. (Mason, OH: South-Western Publishing, 2008),


21. [12] JetBlue Airways, “An Apology from David

Neeleman,” (accessed February 18,


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22. [13] Patricia M. Buhler, “Managing in the New Millennium: Six Tips to More Effective

Communication,” Supervision 70, no. 7 (July 2009): 19.

23. [14] Jeffrey J. Denning, “How to Improve Your Listening Skills, Avoid Mix-ups,”Ophthalmology Times 26,

no. 10 (May 15, 2001): 28.

24. [15] Patricia M. Buhler, “Managing in the New Millennium: Six Tips to More Effective

Communication,” Supervision 70, no. 7 (July 2009): 19.

25. [17] Beverly Davenport Sypher, Robert N. Bostrom, and Joy Hart Seibert, “Listening, Communication

Abilities and Success at Work,” Journal of Business Communication 26, no. 4 (Fall 1989): 293.

26. [18] Jeffrey J. Denning, “How to Improve Your Listening Skills, Avoid Mix-ups,”Ophthalmology Times 26,

no. 10 (May 15, 2001): 28.

27. [19] “A Lesson on Listening,”Selling Power Pharmaceuticals eNewsletter, April 9,

2008, (accessed March 16, 2010).

28. [20] Natalie Zmuda, “Pepsi, Coke Try to Outdo Each Other with Rays of Sunshine,”Advertising Age, January

19, 2009, July 14, 2009).

29. [22] Albert Mehrabian, “Silent Messages,” July 15,


30. [23] “Mehrabian’s Communication Research,”, (accessed July 15,


31. [24] Terri Morrison, “Kiss, Bow, or Shake

Hands,” (accessed July 23, 2009).

32. [25] Rachel Zupek, “The Worst Way to Shake

Hands,”, (accesse

d July 13, 2009).

33. [26] Rachel Zupek, “The Worst Way to Shake

Hands,”, (accesse

d July 13, 2009).

34. [27] “Good Handshake Key to Interview Success,” BC Jobs,

advice-articles/interview-advice/good-handshake-key-to-interview-success (accessed July 12, 2009).

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35. [28] Rachel Zupek, “The Worst Way to Shake

Hands,”, (accesse

d July 13, 2009).

36. [29] John Gates, “A Handshake Lesson from Goldilocks,”, (accessed July 12, 2009).

37. [30] “Good Handshake Key to Interview Success,” BC Jobs,

advice-articles/interview-advice/good-handshake-key-to-interview-success (accessed July 12, 2009).

38. [31] “Good Handshake Key to Interview Success,” BC Jobs,

advice-articles/interview-advice/good-handshake-key-to-interview-success (accessed July 12, 2009).

39. [32] “Good Handshake Key to Interview Success,” BC Jobs,

advice-articles/interview-advice/good-handshake-key-to-interview-success (accessed July 12, 2009).

40. [33] Kathryn Tolbert, “What We Say without Words,” Washington


dyn/content/gallery/2008/06/23/GA2008062301669.html (accessed July 15, 2009).

41. [34] Neal Hendes, “How to Read Body Language: Ten Tips,” EzineArticles,

to-Read-Body-Language—Top-10-Tips&id=991635(accessed July 15, 2009).

42. [37] Patricia M. Buhler, “Managing in the New Millennium: Six Tips to More Effective

Communication,” Supervision 70, no. 7 (July 2009): 19.

43. [38] “Communicating Persuasively: Email or Face-to-Face,”

PsyBlog, (accessed July 15,


5.2 Your Best Behavior

1. Understand the appropriate etiquette for business communication.

You probably learned about table manners, thank-you notes, and other forms of etiquette when you

were younger. The way you conduct yourself says a lot about who you are in life and, by extension, in

business. Although many companies have a casual dress code, don’t be quick to assume that protocol

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and established practices aren’t important. It would be easy to misinterpret lack of formality as lack

of professionalism. Manners matter in selling, now more than ever.

Never Underestimate the Power of Good Etiquette

How do you make a positive impression when you meet someone? What’s the best way to ask for her

business card? When is it appropriate or expected to send a thank-you note? Who picks up the bill at a

business lunch? It’s hard to know the “rules of the road,” especially in today’s casual, fast-paced selling

environment. Etiquette can make the difference in how your customer perceives you and your personal


Etiquette Tips for Letters and Memos

Despite the use of electronic devices in business, formal written communication such as letters, memos,

proposals, reports, and presentations are still major methods of communication in selling. These more

official methods of communication reflect factual statements that you are making on behalf of the

company. Here are some tips for writing business communications:

• Use company letterhead where appropriate. For example, letters are always written on letterhead,

whether in hard copy or in an electronic format that can be sent via e-mail.

• Use the formal elements of a business letter shown in .

• For a company memo, use the company format. Most companies have a set format for hard copy and

electronic memos. See an example of a company memo in .

• Spell-check and proofread your document carefully before you send it. Be sure it is complete and

factually correct and does not include any grammar or spelling errors.

• Use CC to indicate the names of other people who should also receive a copy of the letter or memo.

The term “CC” is short for “carbon copy,” which dates back to the days of typewriters when carbon

paper was used to make multiple copies of a document. It can also mean “courtesy copy”: an

additional copy provided to someone as a courtesy. [1]

• Use BCC (blind carbon copy) to send copies to other people without having the primary recipient see

it. [2]

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Figure 5.7 Business Letter Format

Figure 5.8 Company Memo Example

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Etiquette Tips for Conversations, Meetings, and Presentations

Although common sense should prevail in all business communications, here are some tips that will help

make your conversations, meetings, and presentations more effective forms of communication:

• Be prepared; don’t waste anyone’s time or focus.

• Prepare a written agenda and hand it out at the start of the meeting to keep the group focused on the

desired topics.

• Speak clearly and at a volume that is easy to hear, but not too loud so as to be distracting.

• Be professional and respectful; don’t interrupt when others are speaking.

• Use eye contact.

• At the end, recap your key points and identify next steps.

In sales, time is money so conducting effective and efficient meetings is critical to your success.
Seven Tips to Make Your Meetings More Effective [3]

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Doodle to Save Time
If you are setting up a meeting that involves several people and it’s difficult to agree on a meeting date and

time, you can use to identify the best date and time to meet. You choose the options and e-

mail a link to the participants; when people respond, you see the summary that indicates the

best date and time for the meeting. Set up an account at

Figure 5.9Sample Poll on [4]

Etiquette for Requesting and Giving Business Cards

Business cards are a branding tool for your company and a way to stay in touch with your customers and

other people in your network. [5] In fact, giving out and requesting a business card is considered good

etiquette. [6] Here are some tips to exchange business cards in a professional manner:

• Carry your business cards in a case or protective holder; never give anyone a card that is worn, dirty,

or out of date. [7]

• Always put a supply of business cards in your case when you attend a business event. [8]

• Present your card with the print facing up so the recipient can easily read it.[9]

• Never force anyone to take your card. [10]

• When receiving a business card, take a minute to review the information to make sure you remember

who gave you the card. Make any notes or comments on it later. [11]

Etiquette for Business Meals

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The purpose of a business breakfast, lunch, or dinner is to get to know someone and build a relationship.

As you learned in , to engage in business entertainment is considered part of the sales job description.

Table manners are a form of nonverbal communication, and impolite etiquette can reverse all the effort

you have put into a relationship. Business meals are so important that many companies use business

lunches or dinners as part of the interview process. Whatever the situation, you want to be prepared with

proper etiquette for the occasion.

• A meal is considered a business meeting, no matter where it is held. [12]

• To help you remember which dishes and utensils to use, think BMW: Bread plate on your left, Meal in

the center, Water goblet on the right. [13] Use silverware starting at the outside and work your way in

as the meal progresses.

• As a general rule of thumb, the person who invites pays. If you are invited to lunch for an interview,

your host pays. If you take a customer out to lunch, you pay. [14]

• If you don’t know what to order, ask your host what’s good. Order a midpriced entrée rather than

ordering the least expensive or most expensive item on the menu. If you are the host, make some

suggestions so your customer feels comfortable with her choice. [15]

• Don’t order anything messy; stick to food that is easy to eat. [16]

• Be courteous to the wait staff. Many people observe how you treat other people, even when you think

no one is watching.

Etiquette for Thank-You Notes

There’s nothing more personal than a thank-you note. For the most part, you and your customers are very

busy, which is why a thank-you note is even more appreciated. Whether it’s a handwritten note or an e-

mail thank you, it will go a long way in building your relationship. It’s a personal touch that sets you apart.

It’s never inappropriate to say thank you, but it may be inappropriate not to say thank you.

Here are some tips for writing thank-you notes:

• Start with a clear introduction and let the reader know right away that the purpose of the note or e-

mail is to thank him.

• Be specific about the situation, date, or other information surrounding the reason for the thank-you


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• Make it personal and make it special by including your own sentiments. A generic message such as

“thanks for a great job” really doesn’t fill the bill. Think about exactly what moved you to write the

note and be sure your reader knows what she did that was special. [17]

Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
Imagine getting a personalized handwritten thank-you note when you order a pair of shoes online. That’s

what does for each customer. Founder Kassie Rempel feels so strongly about thanking

customers for their business that every customer who purchases a pair of shoes receives one; each note

even mentions the name of the shoe that was purchased. [18]

High Tech, High Touch

The year was 1982, and the world was just beginning to realize the amazing potential of computer

technology. John Naisbitt wrote a book called Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives,

where he coined the term “high tech, high touch,” which he defined as the contradictory state in which

people are driven by technology yet long for human interaction. [19] He wrote about how the United States

has been transformed from being comfortable with technology to being intoxicated with technology, a

state he calls the “Technologically Intoxicated Zone” in his 1999 book, High Tech/High Touch. You

probably can’t imagine living without your cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA), iPod, computer,

or other electronic devices. In fact, it’s likely you can’t even remember what communication was like

before the Internet.

Technology, with all of its efficiency and benefits, cannot, however, become a substitute for old-fashioned

human efforts. “Technology makes tasks easier, but it does not make our lives easier,” according to July

Shapiro in a recent article in Advertising Age. [20] Shapiro’s observation is true, especially as it relates to

business; sometimes, the crush of technology takes precedence over business etiquette. However, people

have begun to rethink the lack of personal interaction and its corresponding etiquette in the workplace.

Yes, “there’s even an app for that”; a firm named Etiquette Avenue has recently launched an iPod app for

business etiquette. The fact is, technology isn’t personal and can’t behave in the right way at the right time

with your customer or on an interview; that’s completely up to you. [21], [22]

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Now, we’re seeing a bit of a reverse movement: Technology is so pervasive in selling that salespeople are

actually pushing back on their managers and asking them for more face time and less gadget time. One of

the best opportunities for sales managers and their salespeople to discuss business problems and build

relationships with one another has traditionally been during “windshield time,” which is the time in the

car driving between sales calls. “Sales reps report that the intrusion of technology has stolen this valuable

time from reps and their principals [bosses],” according to a recent article in Agency Sales, because as

soon as they get into the car to drive to the next call, the sales manager pulls out his BlackBerry. “If there’s

one thing I could tell my principals [bosses] when they come see me in the field is to ditch the electronic

communications and pay attention to me and our customers,” said one salesperson quoted in the

article.[23] It’s no surprise that there’s a need for business etiquette, especially as it relates to technology.

Being Connected versus Being Addicted

In a recent pitch to a potential client, a marketing executive in Manhattan thought it was strange that his

potential customer was so engaged with his iPhone that he hardly looked up from it during the meeting.

After ninety minutes, someone peeked over the customer’s shoulder and saw that he was playing a racing

game on his iPhone. This was disappointing, but not shocking according to the marketing firm that was

doing the presentation; they continued with their pitch because they wanted the business. Some are not as

tolerant. Billionaire Tom Golisano, a power broker in New York politics, recently announced that he wants

to have State Senate majority leader Malcolm A. Smith removed from office because Smith was focused on

his BlackBerry during a budget meeting with him. Recently, in Dallas, Texas, a student lost his

opportunity for an internship at a hedge fund when he checked his BlackBerry to check a fact during an

interview and took an extra minute to check his text messages at the same time. [24] It’s no surprise that

BlackBerrys are also called “CrackBerrys.” According to Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The

Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, we are living in “an institutionalized culture of

interruption, where our time and attention is being fragmented by a never-ending stream of phone calls,

e-mails, instant messages, text messages, and tweets.” [25]

The need to be connected should not overwhelm respect for colleagues and customers. Although texting

has become a national pastime, especially among teenagers, it’s important to know the appropriate

etiquette for the use of handheld electronic devices when conducting a sales call.

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First, it’s best to turn off your electronic devices before you enter every meeting. If you think you can’t live

without checking your text messages, think about how you would feel if you went on a job interview and

the person with whom you were meeting was checking his electronic device during your interview. Just

because some people demonstrate bad behavior and check their electronic devices for messages during a

meeting doesn’t make it appropriate. In fact, it will help you stand out as a good listener, and you will

make your customer feel even more important when you focus exclusively on her.

Etiquette Tips for Telephone, Cell Phone, Voice Mail, and Conference Calls

Sometimes, however, the use of technology is entirely necessary to conduct business when personal

interaction is impossible. It’s important that verbal communication that is not face-to-face is effective and

professional. Because you don’t have the benefit of using or seeing the receiver’s nonverbal

communication, the challenges for effective and appropriate communication are even greater.

Here are some dos and don’ts of telephone etiquette:

• Do be aware of the volume of your voice when you are speaking on the phone in the office or on a cell

phone. [26]

• Do, when using a speakerphone, conduct the call in an enclosed or isolated area such as a conference

room or office to avoid disturbing others in the area.

• Do, when leaving a voice mail message, speak slowly, enunciate, spell your name, and leave your

number (this makes it much easier for the recipient to hear your message the first time).[27]

• Do, when you leave a voice mail message, be specific about what you want: make it easier for the

caller to get back to you and include what time you will be available for a callback to avoid playing

telephone tag. [28]

• Do customize your voice mail message: create a different message for each of your customers or

prospective customers so the message is personal and relevant. [29]

• Do speak with enthusiasm: it’s best to convey a smile in your voice, especially if it is the first time you

are calling or leaving a message for someone. [30]

• Don’t take another phone call during a meeting. [31]

• Don’t discuss confidential or personal issues during business calls.

• Don’t discuss confidential issues in public areas—you never know who might overhear a conversation

in the hallway, on a train, or in other public areas. [32]

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• Don’t leave a long, rambling voice mail message: be prepared with a message that is no longer than

sixty seconds. [33]

• Don’t multitask during a long phone call or conference call—give the other person or people the

courtesy of your full attention.

Etiquette Tips for E-mails, Text Messages, Instant Messages, and Social Networks

Written communication has evolved to include multiple methods, all of which have appropriate places in

selling. Notice the operative word here is appropriate. E-mail has become an accepted method of

communication in most businesses, whereas text messages, instant messages, and social networks are

commonplace for only some companies. That’s why etiquette is especially important when using any of

these methods of communication, and you should take time to choose your method carefully. Letters,

memos, proposals, and other written communication are considered formal, whether they are sent on

paper or transmitted via e-mail. However, text messages, instant messages, and social networking are

considered informal methods of communication and should be used only to communicate less formal

information, such as a meeting time when schedules have been adjusted during a factory tour. Text and

instant messages should never be used to communicate company policies, proposals, pricing, or other

information that is important to conduct business with customers. It’s also worth noting that in all these

methods your communication is permanent, so it’s a good idea to know the dos and don’ts of electronic


• Do use an e-mail subject line that clearly tells the recipient about the content of the e-mail.

• Do create a short, concise message that uses proper grammar and spelling—use spell-check to be sure

all words are spelled correctly. [34]

• Do, in all electronic communications, use uppercase and lowercase letters as grammar dictates. [35]

• Do use e-mail, text messages, and instant messages when appropriate, according to your company’s

practices, and with your customers to communicate factual information such as to confirm meeting

date, time, and location. [36]

• Do use social networking sites to join the conversation and add value—you can build your personal

brand by creating a blog or joining a professional conversation on social networking sites such as

Twitter or Facebook. [37]

• Don’t use all capital letters in an e-mail; it appears that you are shouting or angry. [38]

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• Don’t use “Reply to All” unless it’s absolutely necessary that all the recipients see your response—be

selective to avoid mailbox overload.

• Don’t send an e-mail, text message, or instant message when you are angry: take the time to think

about what you send because you can’t take it back after it’s sent. [39]

• Don’t use abbreviations like “ur,” “2b,” and others—this is not appropriate business

communication. [40]

• Don’t use company e-mail, text message, or instant message accounts to send personal

correspondence, and don’t check your personal accounts or pages during company time, as all

communication that takes place on company hardware and servers is property of the company.

• Don’t use electronic communication to transmit bad news: talk to the person first, and if follow-up is

necessary, reiterate the information in written form.

• Don’t use text messages, instant messages, or social networks to communicate information such as

pricing, proposals, reports, service agreements, and other company information that should be sent

using a more formal method.

Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View
When the Customer Tweets

Social media give customers a voice like never before. When companies listen to customers, they can turn

a bad situation into a good one; but if they don’t respond, customers speak out. For example, a dissatisfied

Virgin America passenger posted a tweet on Twitter during a flight to Boston, thanks to the Wi-Fi service

onboard. Virgin America monitors Twitter so closely that by the time the plane landed, a ground team met

the customer at the gate to be sure his needs were met, and he left the airline with the memory of

extraordinary service. [41]

Music to Your Ears

When is an iPod or other MP3 player or a handheld gaming device appropriate at work? Only when it is

used for business purposes. “You’re isolating yourself,” says Dale Chapman Webb, founder of The

Protocol Centre in Coral Gables, Florida. “You are sending a message that my music is more important

than the work at hand.” If you feel the need to listen to your iPod or use handheld gaming devices at work,

sales may not be the right profession for you.

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• Proper etiquette is a necessity in selling. There are etiquette guidelines for virtually every form of

communication, including conversations, meetings, business cards, business meals, thank-you notes, e-

mails, text messages, and even social networking.

• Written communication should always include proper grammar and spelling. This applies to formal

business communications such as letters and memos, as well as informal business communications such

as e-mails and text messages.

• Written communication such as letters, reports, and memos are considered formal methods of business

communication; many formal communications are transmitted via e-mail. Text messages, instant

messages, blogs, and social networks are considered informal communications and should only be used

for informal communications such as confirming a meeting place when noise is an issue, such as on a

factory floor.

• It’s best to remember that most written communication is permanent, so take the time to craft it


• Professionalism should prevail in all business meetings and communications, including meals. When you

are at a restaurant, it’s is good idea to remember BMW: Bread to the left, Meal in the middle, Water

goblet to the right. Use silverware starting with the utensils on the outside and work your way in

throughout the meal.

• You can add a personal touch to a business relationship by sending a thank-you note. Although it is

acceptable to send a thank-you note via e-mail, it is recommended to send a personal handwritten note

to reflect a sincere sentiment that really stands out.

• It is never appropriate to use an electronic device such as a cell phone, BlackBerry, or iPhone while you

are talking with someone else. Turn off your devices before you enter a meeting.

• When talking on the phone, be courteous and use an appropriate volume in your voice. Never discuss

confidential or personal topics on the phone when others might overhear.


1. Assume you work for a textile manufacturer. Draft a letter to invite your customer to tour your company’s

factory next month. Choose a specific date, time, and location for your tour to be included in your letter.

Who, if anyone, should be included as a CC? Why? Who, if anyone, should be included as a BCC? Why?

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2. Create a voice mail message that you would leave on a customer’s voice mail if you were calling to set up

a meeting to follow up from your first sales call. What information is essential to be included in the voice

mail? What information should not be covered in the voice mail?

3. You are scheduled to meet your customer for an off-site training meeting. You just realized you are at the

wrong meeting location, and you need to contact your customer and let her know that you are on your

way to the right location. What is the best method to communicate with your customer? What would

your message be?

4. You just learned about a delayed shipment date for your customer’s order. What is the best method to

communicate this to your customer?

5. You are in a meeting with a customer, but you have a potential problem that is developing with a

different customer. You are expecting a phone call about the second situation during your meeting with

the other customer. How would you communicate this to the customer with whom you are meeting?

6. You are at a business dinner with your boss and her husband in a very nice restaurant. Watch the

following video and answer the following questions.

Source: BNET

o From which side of the chair do you sit down?

o How do you determine which bread plate is yours?

o When do you put your napkin on your lap?

o When someone asks you to pass the salt, what do you do?

o When you want to excuse yourself, what is the appropriate way to do it?

7. [1] Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication, 6th ed. (Mason, OH: South-Western Publishing, 2008),


8. [2] Mary Ellen Guffey, Business Communication, 6th ed. (Mason, OH: South-Western Publishing, 2008),


9. [3] Renee Houston Zemanski, “Seven Ways to Make Your Meetings More Memorable,” Selling Power

Meetings eNewsletter, July 7,

2009, (accessed March 16, 2010).

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10. [4] Kim Richmond, “Poll: Entrepreneurial Series,”

Doodle, (accessed July 17, 2009).

11. [5] Miss E, “The Art of Giving Business Cards,”,

etiquette/business-card-etiquette (accessed July 17, 2009).

12. [6] Ben Preston, “Good Business Etiquette Includes Giving Out Business Cards,”, (accesse

d July 17, 2009).

13. [7] Barbara Bergstrom, “Business Card Tips,” Orlando Business Journal, July 3,

2009, July

12, 2009).

14. [8] Barbara Bergstrom, “Business Card Tips,” Orlando Business Journal, July 3,

2009, July

12, 2009).

15. [9] Barbara Bergstrom, “Business Card Tips,” Orlando Business Journal, July 3,

2009, July

12, 2009).

16. [10] Barbara Bergstrom, “Business Card Tips,” Orlando Business Journal, July 3,

2009, July

12, 2009).

17. [11] Barbara Bergstrom, “Business Card Tips,” Orlando Business Journal, July 3,

2009, July

12, 2009).

18. [12] Louise Lee, “Meet and Eat,” BusinessWeek, June 5,

2009, (accessed July 13,


19. [13] Joe Morris, “Not Knowing Basics Is Simply Impolite,” Nashville Business Journal, November 21,

2008, July

12, 2009).

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20. [14] Joanne McFadden, “Rules of Etiquette Are Important for the Business Lunch,”Milwaukee Business

Journal, October 24,

2008, July

12, 2009).

21. [15] Joanne McFadden, “Rules of Etiquette Are Important for the Business Lunch,”Milwaukee Business

Journal, October 24,

2008, July

12, 2009).

22. [16] Louise Lee, “Meet and Eat,” BusinessWeek, June 5,

2009, (accessed July 13,


23. [17] Terence P. Ward, “Expressing Gratitude in Writing Builds Business Networks,” May 18, 2008,, (accessed July

17, 2009).

24. [18] Justin Martin, “6 Companies Where Customers Come


irst.fsb/5.html (accessed July 23, 2009).

25. [19] John Naisbitt, Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives (New York: Grand Central

Publishing, 1998).

26. [20] July Shapiro, “A Digital Myth: Technology Doesn’t Make Life Easier,” Advertising Age, May 11,

2009, (accessed May 12, 2009).

27. [21] CommercialsKid, “iPhone 3g Commercial ‘There’s an App for That,’”

video, (accessed July 16, 2009).

28. [22] “Good Advice in Bad Times: New Etiquette Avenue iPhone App Puts Professional Protocol at

Fingertips,” Business Wire, June 29, 2009.

29. [23] “Reestablishing the Inside Connection: Open Communication with Inside Sales Strengthens the Rep

Bond,” Agency Sales 39, no. 5: 38.

30. [24] Alex Williams, “At Meetings, It’s Mind Your Blackberry or Mind Your Manners,” New York Times, June

22, 2009, A1.

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31. [25] Patrick Welsh, “Txting Away Ur Education,” USA Today, June 23, 2009, A11.

32. [26] Joanna L. Krotz, “Cell Phone Etiquette: 10 Dos and Don’ts,”


=1&ArticleId=Cellphoneetiquettedosanddonts (accessed July 12, 2009).

33. [27] John R. Quain, “Quain’s Top Ten Voice Mail Tips,” Fast Company, December 18,

2007, (accessed July 17, 2009).

34. [28] John R. Quain, “Quain’s Top Ten Voice Mail Tips,” Fast Company, December 18,

2007, (accessed July 17, 2009).

35. [29] Keith Rosen, “Eight Tips on Crafting Effective Voice Mail Messages,”

AllBusiness, July

17, 2009).

36. [30] Keith Rosen, “Eight Tips on Crafting Effective Voice Mail Messages,”

AllBusiness, July

17, 2009).

37. [31] Joanna L. Krotz, “Cell Phone Etiquette: 10 Dos and

Don’ts,” Microsoft,

px?Print=1&ArticleId=Cellphoneetiquettedosanddonts (accessed July 12, 2009).

38. [32] Barbara Bergstrom, “Good Etiquette Is Recession-Proof,” Baltimore Business Journal, April 17,

2009, July

12, 2009).

39. [33] John R. Quain, “Quain’s Top Ten Voice Mail Tips,” Fast Company, December 18,

2007, (accessed July 17, 2009).

40. [34] “Shouting and Other E-mail Faux Pas,” BusinessLine, April 20, 2009.

41. [35] “Shouting and Other E-mail Faux Pas,” BusinessLine, April 20, 2009.

42. [36] Patricia M. Buhler, “Managing in the New Millennium: Six Tips to More Effective

Communication,” Supervision 70, no. 7 (July 2009), 19.

43. [37] Norman Birnbach, “10 Twitter Etiquette Rules,” Fast Company, July 2,


rules (accessed July 17, 2009).

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44. [38] “Shouting and Other E-mail Faux Pas,” BusinessLine, April 20, 2009.

45. [39] Paul Glover, “Why We Need E-mail Etiquette,” Fast Company, December 30,


etiquette (accessed July 17, 2007).

46. [40] Norman Birnbach, “10 Twitter Etiquette Rules,” Fast Company, July 2,


rules (accessed July 17, 2009).

47. [41] Gerhard Gschwandtner, “Wow Your Customers with Twitter in Real Time,” Selling


.html (accessed July 23, 2009).

5.3 Selling U: The Power of Informational Interviews

1. Learn about informational interviews and how they can help your career search.

“Find someone who does what you want to do, then go talk to them.” That’s the advice that Ike

Richman, vice president of public relations at Comcast-Spectacor consistently tells students when he

is a guest speaker. That is the essence of what an informational interview is: one-on-one

communication that helps you learn about different industries and potential careers. You learned

about the power of networking in the Selling U section of Chapter 3 “The Power of Building

Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work”. And informational interviews are one of the best

ways to network. They are the ultimate in business communication because you are “trying on jobs

for size to see if they fit you,” according to Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your

Parachute? and the person who coined the term “informational interview.” [1]

What Is an Informational Interview?

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An informational interview is exactly what it sounds like; it’s an opportunity to learn about a particular

profession, industry, or job. [2] That means that if you are interested in sales, you might meet with an

account manager for a software company and talk to her about what it’s like to be in sales. Or, if you think

you want to pursue a job in advertising, you could meet with someone who works at an advertising

agency. This gives you the chance to learn the inside story about what it takes to start a career and work in

your target industry.

You’ve probably learned about several different professions in your classes; you most likely heard from

guest speakers. And through your networking activities, chances are you’ve met people who do what you

think you want to do. But it’s impossible to know exactly what career you want to pursue without getting

some one-on-one information. What does the job entail? Will you be working with people out in the field

or sitting at a desk? What kinds of opportunities are available for personal development? What kind of

skills and experience do you need? Is this really a career you will enjoy? What’s the best part of the job?

What’s the worst part of the job? All these are excellent questions to ask during an informational


Ask for Information, Not a Job

Informational interviews are an excellent source of information and insight. In fact, you can gain

knowledge through informational interviews that you might not be able to gain in any other way. It’s

important to note that informational interviews are not the place to look for an internship or job. [3] A job

or an internship could result from an informational interview because it is a time to make an impression

on someone, demonstrate your skills, and network. However, it’s best to keep in mind that when you ask

for an informational interview, you are asking for someone to take the time to share insights and

information with you. If you ask the interviewer for a job, you misled the interviewer about the purpose of

the meeting. [4]

Informational Interviews Made Easy

Informational interviews are an excellent way to gather real-world information about your career

direction. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know to get the most out of informational interviews

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using the tenets of journalism. As a guide, remember the five Ws and an H: who, what, when, where, why,

and how.

Why Go on Informational Interviews

You might think that if you shouldn’t ask for a job, why bother going on an informational interview? There

are plenty of reasons to pursue informational interviews.

• You can learn about what it is like to work in a particular industry, company, or job. [5]

• You have the opportunity to get to know key people in the industry. [6]

• You can learn about jobs that you didn’t realize exist—jobs that are open now or that might be open in

the future. [7]

• You can learn about where you might fit in a specific organization. [8]

• You can ask for referrals for the names of other people in the industry or company with whom you can

meet. [9]

• You can hone your interviewing skills in a low-pressure environment.

• You can get “insider” information that other job seekers might not get, because informational

interviews are an underused approach. [10]

Who to Ask for an Informational Interview

Here’s where your networking skills come into play. Identify people who do what you want to do or do

something that you think is interesting. Make a list of people using the following resources:

• Think of people in professional organizations you may have heard speak or may have met at an event.

• Think of guest speakers you may have heard speak in class or at a campus event.

• Talk to friends and family to get ideas for people they may know in the profession you want to learn

more about.

• Talk to your professors about people in the industry they may know.

• Visit the campus career center and alumni office to identify people with whom you can meet.

• Use online professional networking to find people whom you would like to talk with and learn from.

• Read local business journals and professional organization publications to identify people who have

jobs that you want to learn more about. You can usually find these publications online or in person at

your school library or public library. [11]

How to Ask for an Informational Interview

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Informational interviews are usually twenty to thirty minutes long and can take place in person or by

phone. Once you identify the people with whom you would like to have an informational interview, it’s

time to contact each person and ask for a meeting. It’s always best to request an informational interview

in person because you have the opportunity to communicate verbally as well as nonverbally. Although it’s

appropriate to send a letter or e-mail to request an informational interview, it’s best to call each person to

request the interview or talk to him or her in person. If you use your communication skills, a personal

conversation will be much more persuasive than a passive e-mail or letter, which could easily go


A telephone conversation should include an introduction along with the reason you are calling. Be clear

that you are seeking information; don’t frame your request as a veiled strategy for a job offer. If you are

honest about learning about the industry, most people will take the time to help you. You might consider a

telephone conversation like this:


My name is Jorge Ebana, and I am a student at State University majoring in business

administration. I was in Dr. Wolf’s Creative Selling class on Thursday when you were a guest

speaker. I really enjoyed your presentation. I especially enjoyed hearing about how you

landed the XPress account.


Jorge, thank you so much for calling. I’m really glad to hear that you found my presentation

interesting. I enjoyed speaking to your class very much. Yes, the XPress account took a lot

of work to land, but it’s been a great relationship for all parties involved.


As you were speaking, I realized that as you described the research, preparation,

presentation, and follow-up, what you do daily is something that I would really enjoy, too.

You made me realize that sales could be the career I might want to pursue.


Jorge, that’s so good to hear. I always like to share my experiences with young people so

that they understand the rewards and the challenges involved in selling. Personally, I enjoy

selling so much that I can’t imagine doing anything else.


I would really like to learn more about how you got into sales. It sounds like you had some

very interesting positions at Intuit and CreditSys. I’d like to hear about what’s it’s like to sell

for a major corporation compared to a start-up company, and their differing advantages.

Would it be possible to get together for twenty minutes or so? I’d really like to learn more

about your background in the field.

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Why don’t you drop by on Thursday morning at 8 o’clock. We can touch base, and I can give

you a quick tour of the office.

You: That would be perfect. I really appreciate your taking the time to help me.

Interviewer: It’s my pleasure. I’ll see you on Thursday morning.

If you use this type of approach when you are speaking with someone with whom you would like to meet,

you increase your chances of getting a positive response. If you don’t know the person or have a

connection to him, it’s still appropriate to call him directly to request an informational interview.

What to Wear, Bring, and Ask on an Informational Interview

Just like any sales call, business meeting, or job interview, you should always be prepared for an

informational interview. Treat it as if it were a job interview and dress in a conservative, professional

suit. [12] Men should wear a white or light shirt, conservative tie, and dark-colored suit. Women should

wear a skirt or pants with a blazer in a dark color. Some things the interview “fashion police” would tell

you to avoid: too much aftershave or cologne, low-cut blouse or short skirt, wrinkled anything, and

athletic-looking shoes or sandals.

What Employers Want

Learn about what employers expect when someone comes in for an informational interview or job



Source: Bay Area Video Coalition

Come prepared as if it were a job interview, even if you already know the person with whom you are

interviewing. That means doing research on the industry, company, and person before you arrive. Visit

the company’s Web site as well as those of competitors, research the industry on databases such as, and do a search on Google to learn more about the person with whom you are interviewing.

Also, look her up on LinkedIn,,, or other professional social networking Web sites to

learn more about her professional background before your meeting.

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Bring extra copies of your résumé printed on twenty-four-pound paper (this is also called résumé paper;

you can buy it at your campus bookstore or at any office supply store or Web site). It’s best not to use

regular copy paper as it is lightweight and doesn’t provide strong nonverbal communication about your

brand. You never know when the person with whom you are meeting will ask for an extra copy of your

résumé. And, even if she already has a copy, she may not have it handy. [13]

This is a perfect opportunity to bring samples of your work. See the Selling Usection in Chapter 6 “Why

and How People Buy: The Power of Understanding the Customer” for some tips about how to put together

a portfolio that helps you show and sell yourself. If you have had an internship, bring clean samples of any

projects you worked on; the same is true for any student organizations, volunteer work, or community

service that you have done. You should also include a few key class projects to demonstrate your


Now prepare for the questions. Unlike a regular job interview, you have requested this meeting so you

should be prepared to ask the questions. Keep the questions focused on learning about how your

interviewer broke into the business and what he can share as a result of his experience. Here are some

questions you might consider:

• How did you decide to go into this field?

• What was your first job?

• How did you get to your current position?

• What was your favorite job?

• What is the best thing about your current job?

• What is your least favorite part of your job?

• What is the single most important attribute someone needs to have to be successful in this industry?

• What is the typical salary range for an entry-level job in this industry?

• What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

• What is the outlook for the industry? [14]

In addition to having your questions ready, also be ready to talk about your brand positioning points

(review this concept in the Selling U section in Chapter 1 “The Power to Get What You Want in Life”). Use

your communication skills to make your experience and interest come alive in the interview. It’s a good

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idea to offer to show the samples of your work while you are talking about why you are interested in

pursuing a career path in the industry.

Take the time to print out your questions so you are organized during the interview. Put your questions

and spare copies of your résumé in a professional portfolio or folder. Don’t be afraid to refer to your

questions and take notes during the interview; it’s an excellent nonverbal cue that you think what the

interviewer has to say is important.

Wrap up your informational interview by asking for your interviewee’s business card. Also, ask for the

names of some other people that you might be able to learn from; for example, “I really enjoyed our

conversation today, and I learned so much about the industry. You have helped me realize that I would

like to pursue a career in sales. Can you give me the names of some other people I might be able to learn


You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
Keep in Touch

What about after the informational interview? Keep in touch. People who take the time to help students

also want to know what is going on with the young job-seeking population. Send an e-mail or touch base

by phone at least every four to six weeks. It’s a great way to develop a relationship and network, even after

you land your internship or job. Part of networking is providing exchange, and keeping in touch is your

part of the bargain. When you keep in touch, your interviewer might be able to help you in the future; or

better yet, you might be able to help her and return the favor.

When to Ask for an Informational Interview

It’s always a good time to meet and learn from experienced people in the industry in which you are

interested. However, you should actively pursue informational interviews when you are prepared with

your résumé and have compiled some samples of your work. Keep in mind that every contact you make is

a selling opportunity for your personal brand so it’s best to be ready as early as possible in your academic

career. It’s never too soon to prepare your résumé even as you are building your experience with

internships and other jobs. Whenever you meet someone interesting, follow up and ask him for an

informational interview so you can learn more about how he got into the business.

Where to Have an Informational Interview

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Your interviewee will most likely suggest a location for your meeting; it might be in her office, or you

might meet for breakfast or lunch. Some informational interviews might take place by phone. The

objective is to connect, learn, and network.

Whatever the location, always prepare and dress for each informational interview as if it were a job

interview. Also, always send a thank-you note to thank your interviewer for his time. You should send a

thank-you e-mail and a handwritten thank-you note on the same day, so your interviewer will receive your

e-mail followed by your handwritten note. That way, you leave a lasting impression and demonstrate your

good etiquette.

• An informational interview is an underused career search method that includes a meeting with a

professional to learn more about pursuing a career in a specific industry, profession, or job.

• You go on informational interviews to learn what it’s like to work in a particular industry, company or

job, connect and network with people in the industry, and hone your interviewing skills.

• One thing you should never do on an informational interview is ask for a job or internship. If the

opportunity presents itself and your interviewer asks if you might be interested, it’s appropriate to say

yes. However, you should not be the one to initiate dialogue about the possibility of a position with the


• You should ask anyone who is in the industry or profession that you would like to pursue. It’s a good idea

to use your networking skills to identify people with whom you can have an informational interview.

Professionals such as guest speakers in class, prominent executives, and those in local professional

organizations are ideal people to ask for an informational interview.

• It’s best to request an informational interview in person or by phone because you increase your chances

for a positive response. You can also request an informational interview by letter or e-mail.

• Prepare for an informational interview as if it were a job interview, even if you already know the person.

Research the company, bring extra copies of your résumé and samples of your work, and prepare

questions that you would like to discuss.


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1. Identify three people with whom you would like to have an informational interview. Write down each

person’s name, company, title, and phone number. Write a phone script that you would use when you

call to ask for the interview. Discuss your approach.

2. Write down a list of six to eight questions that you would like to ask on each informational interview.

Which questions would you ask on all informational interviews? Which questions would be specific to a

particular interview? Why?

3. How would you answer the following question on an informational interview: “Why do you want to

pursue a career in (name of industry)?”

4. Identify at least four samples of your work that you would include in a binder when you go on

informational interviews. Why would each one be included? What would you tell an interviewee about

each sample? How would each sample demonstrate one of your brand positioning points?

5. Write a thank-you e-mail and a handwritten thank-you note that you would send after an informational

interview. Would you send both? Why or why not?

6. [1] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Background Information about Informational Interviews,”

Quintessential Careers, (accessed July 12,


7. [2] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Background Information about Informational Interviews,”

Quintessential Careers, (accessed July 12,


8. [3] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Never Ask for a Job,” Quintessential

Careers, (accessed July 12, 2009).

9. [4] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Never Ask for a Job,” Quintessential

Careers, (accessed July 12, 2009).

10. [5] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Potential Results of Informational Interviews,” Quintessential

Careers, (accessed July 12, 1009).

11. [6] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Potential Results of Informational Interviews,” Quintessential

Careers, (accessed July 12, 1009).

12. [7] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Potential Results of Informational Interviews,” Quintessential

Careers, (accessed July 12, 1009).

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13. [8] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Potential Results of Informational Interviews,” Quintessential

Careers, (accessed July 12, 1009).

14. [9] “Informational Interview Questions,” Career Choice

Guide, (accessed July 20,


15. [10] Kate Lorenz, “How Does an Informational Interview Work?”


Interview-Work (accessed July 20, 2009).

16. [11] “Informational Interview Tutorial: Identify People to Interview for Informational Interviews,”

Quintessential Careers, (accessed July 12, 2009).

17. [12] Katharine Hansen, “Informational Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts,” Quintessential

Careers, July 20,


18. [13] Kate Lorenz, “How Does An Informational Interview Work?”


Interview-Work (accessed July 20, 2009).

19. [14] “Informational Interview Questions,” Career Choice

Guide, (accessed July 20,


5.4 Review and Practice
Power Wrap-Up
Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand how to communicate effectively

and with proper etiquette in business.

• You can discuss the communication model and how it works.

• You can compare and contrast the different types of communication: verbal, nonverbal, and


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• You can recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each type of communication and when each is

appropriate to use.

• You can understand the role of listening in effective communication.

• You can recognize the impact of nonverbal communication.

• You can practice how to shake hands properly.

• You can discuss the appropriate etiquette for business situations, including the use of electronic


• You can understand the role that informational interviews may play in your career search.
T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

1. Describe the difference between soft skills and hard skills.

2. Discuss two ways to demonstrate active listening.

3. Name the three types of communication. Identify at least one pro and one con for each one.

4. Which type and method of communication would you use to tell your boss that your car broke down and

you can’t make it to the customer presentation?

5. If you invite a customer to lunch, who should pay? If your customer invites you to lunch, who should pay?

6. When is it appropriate to write a thank-you note in sales?

7. Identify three situations in which it would be appropriate to have your electronic device such as a cell

phone turned on in a meeting.

P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. The following are two roles that are involved in the

same selling situation—one role is the customer, and the other is the salesperson. This will give you the

opportunity to think about this selling situation from the point of view of both the customer and the


Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then be prepared to play either of the roles

in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-

play in groups or individually.

Safe and Secure

Role: Sales rep for Sun Security Systems for retail stores

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You are meeting with a potential customer who is responsible for purchasing security systems for over two

hundred retail stores. He is convinced that your company’s security system is the one he wants to use, but

he has to convince his boss. The key selling point in his mind, he mentions to you, is the fact that the

system carries a money-back guarantee so that if anything happens, the company will be protected. You

realize that he has misinterpreted the terms of the guarantee. It is a money-back guarantee only on the

security system itself, not for any other loss. It appears that there was some miscommunication between

all the meetings and follow-up e-mails.

• How would you tell this customer about the correct terms of the guarantee, even though it might be the

sale at risk?

• Since you are meeting in person, what type of follow-up would you consider to ensure that the

information is clearly understood? Why?

• What do you think caused this miscommunication?

• Using the communication model, describe what happened with the communication.

Role: Security manager at Argon Retail, Inc.

You have been looking at security systems for several months and reviewing the offering from different

suppliers. Sun Security Systems appears to offer the best performance at the best value. The key selling

feature is the money-back guarantee. It’s a strong statement about how the company stands behind its

products. This kind of low-risk investment is important to you and your company.

• Do you assume that what you heard or saw about the money-back guarantee is true? After all, it’s up to

the salesperson to be sure you’re informed, right?

• If you probe the details with the salesperson, what questions will you ask to be sure you understand the

terms of the guarantee?

• What type of communication will be best to learn about this information?
P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

1. Discuss at least three reasons why informational interviews are good to do. Then watch this video

to see if you named the reasons mentioned.


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Source: Bay Area Video Coalition

2. Invite someone on your informational interview list to come to class to speak about why he or she gives

informational interviews.

3. Invite three people on your informational interview list and ask them to participate in a panel discussion

in class about how to use informational interviews as an effective career search tool.


1. Soft skills include communication, relationship building, emotional intelligence, and the ability to interact

with people. Hard skills are the technical skills required to perform your job, such as analytical skills in the

finance area.

2. The sender is Axe (Clix); Nick Lachey acts as the spokesperson in this commercial. The message is that Clix

is such a great scent that it attracts lots of women. The message is encoded in video: a commercial. The

receiver is the viewer of the commercial, and the target audience is young men. The decoding occurs

when a young man sees that Clix is so good that it can attract more women than Nick Lachey. The sender

(Clix) gets feedback in several ways: when people view the video, when people post comments about the

video or the product, and when people buy the product.

3. Repeat the information that you heard by saying, “Let me be sure I understand what you’re saying…,”

nodding your head, and taking notes.

4. Verbal communication is best for communicating emotions because you can use or hear intonation. It is

also natural and fast and provides instant feedback. However, verbal communication is gone in an instant

(unless it’s recorded), and people remember what was said differently. Also, we speak at about 125 words

per minute, but listen at about 400 to 500 words per minute, so people’s minds wander during a good

amount of verbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes body language and any other type

of communication that can be observed. Nonverbal communication can underscore a message, such as

hand gestures, or can send a different signal than the spoken words, such as crossed arms or physical

proximity. But sometimes people don’t realize the messages they are sending when they use nonverbal

communication because it can be more difficult to interpret. Written communication is the most

permanent of all communication types. It is usually considered and is used for formal business

communication such as policies, pricing, and other information. Written communication lacks intonation

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and is best used for communicating factual information. Grammar and spelling are critical for written

communication to be effective.

5. It would be best to call him to let her know. This would allow you the opportunity to demonstrate a high

sense of urgency, explain the situation, and discuss possible options. It’s always best to communicate bad

news (especially to your boss) verbally, whether in person or by phone.

6. You should pay when you invite. Although it is appropriate to let your customer pay for a meal once in a

while, it’s usually expected that the salesperson’s company will pick up the tab.

7. Whenever someone does something that is worth noting—referring you to a new prospect, hosting a

productive meeting, being a great business partner, providing some information that was difficult to get,

or any other situation that is worth a thank you—then note it. People rarely send thank-you notes, so it’s

an excellent way to set yourself apart. A thank-you e-mail is always appropriate, but a handwritten thank-

you note is more personal.

8. The only time it is appropriate is if you are waiting for an urgent phone call. If that is the case, you should

mention it before the meeting starts, put your cell phone on vibrate, and step out of the meeting to take

the call. If you are waiting for a text, only check your device occasionally as to not send the message that

the other matter is more important than the meeting you are in.

Chapter 6
Why and How People Buy: The Power of

Understanding the Customer

Meet Rachel Gordon. Rachel has been in sales for three years and has learned that selling is about

understanding the customer’s needs and wants. Rachel sells advertising and marketing programs to

businesses such as casinos, restaurants, car dealerships, and local businesses. Rachel graduated from

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Cornell University with a degree in fashion merchandising. After two years in retail, she learned that

selling is her passion.

6.1 Buying 101

1. Describe the different types of customers and why this information is important in determining

customers’ needs.

2. Discuss the implications of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for selling.

3. Learn the types of buyers and buying situations in the business-to-business (B2B) environment.

You walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch store at the mall, and without thinking about it, you turn to

the right and make your way through the denim, past the belts, and to the sweaters. You are so

engaged in the experience that you didn’t even realize that the huge mural at the entrance to the

store serves a purpose other than to make you look twice at the hot model in the larger-than-life

photo. Before you know it, one of the oh-so-gorgeous salespeople dressed in Abercrombie from head

to toe approaches you with a smile. “These hoodies are awesome,” she says as you pick up the pale

blue one.

Shopping. It’s the national pastime for some but a detested necessity for others. Whether you love

shopping (“Oh, that is sooooooo cute!”) or do everything to avoid it (“I’m not going to the mall, no

matter what”), it is a major source of spending in the United States. In fact, the retail industry

generated $4.475 trillion in sales in 2008, including everything from products and services in retail

stores and e-commerce to food service and automotive. [1] That’s a lot of selling—and a lot of buying.

But what makes you stop and pick up one sweater but not another? What makes you buy a pair of

jeans you weren’t even looking for? What makes you walk out of the store spending more than you

had planned?

Inside Consumer Behavior

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The science of consumer behavior describes and even defines how you shop and, more importantly, why

you buy. Smart retailers study consumer behavior patterns and lay out their stores and merchandise

accordingly. For example, did you know that 86 percent of women look at price tags when they shop,

while only 72 percent of men do?[2] And did you know that the average shopper doesn’t actually notice

anything that’s in the entrance of a store? According to Paco Underhill, famous marketer, CEO and

founder of EnviroSell, and author of the book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, consumers don’t

actually begin shopping until a certain point after they enter the store. That’s why smart retailers include a

“transition zone” at the entry to their store; it allows customers to get their bearings and choose their

shopping paths. In other words, products, signs, and displays that are in the very front of the store might

not be seen if there is not a transition for the customers when they enter. In the case of Abercrombie &

Fitch, the transition is the space just inside the entrance that includes the humongous photo of the

Abercrombie model du jour. When you go into Hollister, it’s the outside porch that serves the same

purpose; it’s a transition that allows you to get your focus and plot your course in the store, even if you

don’t consciously realize it.

Think about the last time you went into a grocery store or drug store; you might not have noticed anything

until you were well inside the store, which means that the merchandise and signs that were displayed in

the area before you got your bearings were virtually invisible to you. [3] Based on consumer research,

there’s a high likelihood that you turned right when you entered the store. Take note the next time you go

shopping; chances are, you’ll turn right after you walk in. [4]

Understanding how and why customers buy can make a significant difference in how you sell. Is the

product a considered purchase, like a computer or car, or an impulse buy, like a sweater or music

download? Is the product bought frequently, like an energy drink, or only once every few years or even

once in a lifetime, like a car or a college education? For each of these products, the customer goes through

a buying process. Understanding the customer and the buying process can make your selling efforts


Do You Need It or Want It?

Think of something you need, like an annual medical checkup, a new apartment because your lease is up,

or even food to survive. There are some products and services you purchase solely because you can’t exist

without them. Now think about something you want: a new pair of jeans, an iPhone, tickets to a concert.

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There is a significant difference in what motivates you to buy products and services you need, compared

to those you want.

Needs versus Wants

Needs are essentials, those products and services you literally cannot live without. Food, shelter, clothing,

transportation, and health care are all examples of needs. Wants, on the other hand, are products,

services, and activities that can improve your quality of life; you don’t need them to exist, but rather you

desire to have them because you think they will make you happy. [5] Cell phones, vacations, sporting

events, restaurants, amusement parks, cable television, and fashion are all examples of wants. People are

motivated differently depending on if they are making a purchase for a need or a want.

Needs and wants have different motivations. Think about buying a car; you could focus on the functional

attributes of the car such as miles per gallon, maintenance costs, and safety ratings. Those are considered

utilitarian needs, or the objective, tangible aspects of a product or service.[6] So, if those were your only

needs, you might choose a Smart Fortwo, Ford Focus, or Toyota Prius. But you might want to have

something a bit sportier, maybe even hipper, to get around campus, and you might choose a Mini Cooper,

a Scion, or even a Jeep. These cars would do more than simply provide transportation; they would meet

your hedonic needs, which are subjective aspects of a product or service. [7] You might choose to buy a

Mini Cooper because you can customize the design online. That would certainly meet a need other than

providing basic transportation. Some people buy a BMW because they want the status that goes with

owning that make of car, or perhaps they think that having a Mercedes-Benz means they have arrived.

When you understand the difference between needs and wants and between utility needs and hedonic

needs, you are better able to tailor your selling communications.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States on August 28, 2005, the Gulf Coast was devastated.

Thousands of people were stranded for days, some without food, water, or shelter due to overwhelming

flooding. Almost two thousand people lost their lives in the natural disaster. [8] During those horrible days

and in the aftermath, those who were affected by the catastrophe did not care what kind of car they drove,

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what anyone did for a living, or if they forgot to sign up for French or scuba lessons. They were focused on

the basics: food, shelter, and clothing.

This tragedy is a demonstration of exactly how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs works. Abraham Maslow is

among the most renowned psychologists of the twentieth century. His theory explains human behavior in

simple terms: A hierarchy of needs that begins with the most basic of physiological needs(e.g., food,

water, shelter, and clothing) motivates people, and when the lowest-level needs are satisfied, they are no

longer motivators. [9]

During the days after Hurricane Katrina hit, people were rescued and provided with water, food, and

shelter. Many were relocated to temporary housing or even to housing outside the affected areas. It was

not until after the physiological needs were met that people became concerned about the next level of

needs on Maslow’s hierarchy: safety needs. Looting of shops in some of the cities began to occur, and

there was even concern that the police force in some cities was not taking an active role in arresting those

who were breaking the law. [10] The people of the Gulf Coast were no longer motivated by simply getting

water, food, or shelter; they had moved up Maslow’s hierarchy and were concerned about their personal

security and well-being.

Figure 6.3

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates that humans fill higher needs only after lower needs are


As the days and weeks passed after Hurricane Katrina hit, its victims wanted to get back to their normal

lives. They searched for options to put their children back in school, ways to get jobs, and options to

rebuild their lives. By Christmas 2005, people stopped to celebrate the holiday together. According to a

story reported by CBS Evening News on December 25, 2005, about the Christmas gatherings in New

Orleans, “The will to be home for the holidays outweighed everything else.” [11] By this time, they were

motivated by social needs, or the need to belong and have an attachment or bond to others. [12]

Slowly but surely, people began to rebuild their lives and their cities. People took on leadership roles and

began to take recovery to the next level. Even people who were hundreds of miles away from the

hurricane-ravaged area wanted to help. Volunteers from all over the country began to make the

pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast to help in any way they could. In fact, volunteer vacations to help rebuild

cities such as New Orleans became commonplace and are still going on today. [13] This is an example

of esteem needs, or the need to feel respected and appreciated by one’s peers. Although volunteers were

motivated by social needs and the need to help their fellow human beings, they found that they were also

greatly appreciated for their efforts.

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Although recovery will be going on for years to come, many of the people affected by the destruction of

Hurricane Katrina are striving for self-actualization, which focuses on learning new skills, taking on new

challenges, and “being all you can be.” [14] John and Starr Chapman are perfect examples of this; their

restaurant, Chappy’s Seafood Restaurant, was lost in the hurricane. The couple relocated to Nashville,

Tennessee, and in 2006, opened Chappy’s on Church Street. Although it was challenging and

overwhelming at times, the husband-and-wife team is not only surviving but also thriving after this life-

changing experience. [15]

Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View
Self-Actualization Means Help for Others

Nikki Olyai, president and CEO of Innovision Technologies, recently made a significant investment for her

company and purchased new software and hardware. Her buying philosophy? Nikki looks for a strong

value system, trust, commitment, a proactive approach to helping her solve her business problems, and

cost-effectiveness. But she expects more from a vendor and business partner; she gives extra

consideration to vendors who have demonstrated a commitment to community service and development.

Nikki believes that businesses and their vendors need to give back to the communities they serve. [16]

This all comes together at the point of sale, whether you are selling in business-to-consumer (B2C) or

business-to-business (B2B) environments. When you understand the motivation of your customer, you

can customize your solution and your message to meet their needs, emotions, and motivations. Consider

the Hurricane Katrina example; would you attempt to sell fine jewelry, pitch the benefits of a landscaping

service, or suggest a home theater system to someone in New Orleans on August 29, 2005? Probably not.

People were focused on their most basic needs at that time, and none of these products or services would

have been appropriate to sell. Although this may seem like an extreme example, it’s a good way to

remember to look at the world through your customer’s eyes, as you’ll see a completely different view.

Now that you can see what motivates people to buy, it’s time to learn who is buying. Although the buying

process is similar for B2C and B2B, there are some distinct differences that can make a difference in the

way you sell.

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Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Buying

Think back to your visit to the Abercrombie & Fitch store. It’s pretty obvious that you are the customer, or

in marketing parlance, you are the consumer, the end user of the product or service. You might be

shopping for yourself or buying a gift for a family member or a friend. Either way, you (or the person to

whom you are giving the product) are the ultimate consumer, which is what defines B2C buying. So,

whether you are buying a cell phone and service at a Verizon store, a music download from iTunes, or a

burger and fries at Burger King, you are buying in the B2C arena. Even though you may behave differently

than your brother or roommate in terms of your purchasing decisions, you are all described as B2C

customers because you are the ultimate consumer of the products or services you buy.

Why People Buy: Virtual Purchases
Clothes for your avatar, “bling” for your online profile, or a virtual birthday cupcake are all reasons to

make digital purchases virtually: paying real money for something that exists only online. Facebook,, and are just a few Web sites that give users the option to buy virtual goods.

Why do people buy things that aren’t even real? For some of the same reasons people buy the real thing:

to be able to do more (i.e., increase functionality), build relationships, and establish identity. [17]

Business-to-Business (B2B) Buying

With B2B customers, sometimes referred to as organizational (or institutional) markets, there are several

different types of situations that define needs and purchasing behavior. Some companies buy products to

sell directly to consumers, whereas others purchase products as ingredients or components to produce

their product. Still other companies lease products or services, while others serve the public, such as

government or nonprofit organizations. Each of these different types of companies and organizations has

different needs and requirements that impact the buying process. [18]


Companies that buy products to make or build a product or service to sell for a profit are called producers.

For example, in the case of Reebok, the company purchases components for its athletic shoes from a

variety of vendors around the world. Reebok uses the components to manufacture the shoes and sell them

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to retailers such as Foot Locker, which in turn, sell the shoes to consumers like you. In this example,

Reebok is engaged in B2B buying as a producer because the company purchases parts or materials to

make shoes and then sells them to other companies. [19] Reebok is a B2B purchaser but not a B2C seller;

the company markets its brand directly to B2C consumers to gain recognition and drive consumers to

participate in B2C buying at retailers that carry its brand.

Figure 6.4 Types of B2B Buyers


Resellers purchase finished goods to sell, lease, or rent to B2B or B2C purchasers. In the example above,

Foot Locker is a reseller because the company buys finished products from manufacturers such as

Reebok, Nike, New Balance, Ryka, and others. In other words, Foot Locker doesn’t manufacture products

but rather buys them from other companies to sell them. It’s important to note that although Foot Locker

buys in the B2B arena as a reseller, the company sells in the B2C arena because it sells its products to the

ultimate consumer. [20] Besides retailers, other types of resellers are wholesalers, brokers, and agents.


organizations include government bodies (federal, local, and municipal, as well as the District of

Columbia) and nonprofit groups (churches, hospitals, colleges, and cause-related groups like the

American Red Cross). The government is a huge consumer, using over $1 trillion in goods and services

annually. [21] In fact, according to the U.S. government budget in 2010, the government outlays are

projected to be 24.4 percent of the U.S. gross national product. [22] This makes the U.S. government the

single largest customer in the world. In fact, government purchases are so large that when the Obama

administration decided to replace its fleet of government vehicles in 2009, it purchased 17,205 cars for a

total of $287 million—that’s just one government purchase! [23] As a result of the government being such a

huge customer, there are processes for prospective vendors to apply to provide products or services to the

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government. The Web site provides information about federal business

opportunities. [24]

Nonprofit organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American

Cancer Society, churches, schools, shelters, and others are also B2B purchasers of goods and services.

Some may be producers, such as a soup kitchen that buys ingredients for soup and other meals, and some

may be resellers, such as the yellow bands for LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. [25]

Figure 6.5

Nonprofit organizations such as the Lance Armstrong Foundation are purchasers of products and services. [26]

Big Differences

B2C and B2B purchasers are different for several reasons. The most important differentiator is that

consumers purchase for their own consumption (or the consumption of their household or friends),

whereas B2B customers purchase to produce or resell the product to a company or the ultimate consumer.

There are also several other key differences between B2C and B2B buyers. Generally, B2C buying is

based—for the most part—on impulse, low-risk decisions for products and services that are readily

accessible. Whether you shop online, in a store, or at a direct selling party, your buying decisions impact

only yourself and your family and do not put you at risk. Although you may make some significant buying

decisions such as a house or a car, your options are easily accessible (go online, go to the mall or store),

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and your decisions don’t put you in danger of losing anything—except, of course, if you spend money you

don’t have.

Table 6.1 Comparison of B2C and B2B Buying Decisions
B2C Buying Decision B2B Buying Decision

Impulsive Methodical

Simple Complex

May or may not be budgeted Budgeted

Low risk High risk

Individual decision Coordinated decision with buy-in and approval from many people

May or may not include some research Analytical including cost-benefit analysis

Source: Data from Randy Shattuck, “Understand the B2B Buying Cycle,”http://www.internetviz- August 1, 2009).

However, in a B2B buying decision, the buying decision is complex, and there is significant risk because a

single decision can affect the quality of a product or service offered by a company to its customers, safety

of consumers, or even profitability of the company. If a B2B buying decision is the wrong decision, the

person or people who made the decision might suffer the consequences, including the loss of his job. [27]

Size of Purchases

Because B2C buyers are purchasing only for their consumption or for the consumption of a limited

number of people, the size of the purchases is relatively small. By contrast, B2B purchases are significant

because the companies are purchasing to sell to other companies or to many consumers. Consider this

difference: you might buy ten pairs of jeans in a year, but Nordstrom buys hundreds of thousands of pairs

of jeans to stock in their inventory. [28] The size of B2B purchases is always significantly larger than B2C

purchases simply because a company is buying for more than one consumer.

Multiple Buyers

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If you think it’s difficult to keep everyone in your apartment happy with the food purchases you make at

the supermarket, that’s easy compared to the number of people involved in a B2B purchasing decision. In

most B2B transactions, there are multiple decision makers involved in each purchase. Think about your

trip to the supermarket from the B2B buyer’s perspective. The decision about which products to stock on

the shelves was ultimately made by someone who holds the title of “buyer” in the company. However, she

could not decide unilaterally what to carry in the bottled water section. She has to understand which

bottled water her customers want, consult with the general merchandise manager, who is responsible for

the shelf space, and the vice president of merchandising, who oversees all product choices. She may even

need to make a presentation to a buying committee before she makes the decision to carry another flavor

of Vitaminwater. She will need to get approval for the money to invest in the inventory and shelf space.

Depending on the organization and the size and impact of the decision, several people from several

different departments may be involved in a B2B buying decision.

Number of Customers

There are over three hundred million people who live in the United States and approximately a hundred

million households. However, there are less that half a million businesses and other

organizations. [29] Because B2B buyers are making decisions that may ultimately impact the sale of a

product or service to millions of consumers, there are naturally fewer businesses. Consider the fact that

according to the United States Census Bureau, there are only 7,569 hospitals in the country, yet there are

over 110 million visits to emergency rooms annually. [30]

Geographic Concentration

Since there are many fewer businesses and organizations compared to the number of ultimate consumers,

it makes sense that there is a geographic concentration of B2B customers. For example, the fashion

industry is primarily located in New York, filmmaking in Los Angeles, and technology in Silicon Valley.

B2B buyers can determine where they want to be located based on resource or on access and can even

choose where to build warehouses or call centers based on costs, transportation, and availability of

labor. [31]

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Figure 6.7 Comparison of B2C and B2B Buyers

Business-to-Business Means Person-to-Person

Although B2C buying behavior is very complicated, B2B buying behavior is even more complex. The fact

is, although it’s called business-to-business buying, the term actually describes people doing business

with people. A business never makes a buying decision; the decision is made by people who work for the

company. So B2B buying decisions are subject to the same behaviors as B2C buying decisions, but on a

more challenging level because B2B buying decisions usually include multiple decision makers, an

extensive evaluation process, extended analysis, and they represent a high risk on the part of the decision

makers. [32]

While many B2B buying decisions are made by an individual decision maker, many are made by a group

of people working together, usually from different departments. When this is the case, the group is called

a buying center, all the people in a group who are involved in the buying decision. [33] For example,

hospitals use buying centers to make decisions on new equipment, a retail company might use a buying

center to determine which point-of-sale register system to purchase. The buying center usually includes

people from the organization who have expertise in different areas, and each may play a different role in

the buying decision. Following are some roles that may be included in the buying center.


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The people in the B2B buying process may include some or all of the following roles. Users are the people

who are actually using the product or service. In the case of a company purchasing a telecommunications

system, the users are all employees of the company because each uses the telephone, Internet, and other

communications technologies. But in the case of a company purchasing a security system, only the

employees in the security department would be users of the product; other employees would simply enjoy

the benefits of the product without actually using it. Because the users’ satisfaction is so important, many

companies involve users at various points throughout the buying process, including gathering input,

participating in product demonstrations, or even using the product as a test.

Initiators and Influencers

Initiators are those people in the company who start the purchasing process for a particular product or

service. [34] For example, the e-commerce manager in the marketing department may begin the process of

seeking a new technology provider for e-mail and social networking services on the company’s Web site.

However, he may not be the final decision maker. There may be several departments involved in the

purchasing decision including marketing, IT, and customer service, just to name a few. The e-commerce

manager will most likely be a user and will take part in the buying process. In fact, he may even be an

influencer in the final buying decision because he can lend his expertise to the team of people who will be

making the final decision. He may compare the offerings from competitive companies, do a competitive

cost analysis, and even conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine which product will provide the most

benefit for the least amount of cost. He might have a preference of which vendor to choose as a result of

this information and his knowledge of the different companies in the industry. His influence may be quite

significant as to what choice the company makes for the purchase. There may be other people in the

organization who are also influencers, such as the IT manager, customer service manager, and others.

Decision Makers

At the end of the day, it is the decision maker or decision makers who will make the final purchasing

decision. Decision makers could be anyone who holds the responsibility or accountability for making

buying decisions for the company. In the case of the e-mail and social networking technology purchase,

depending on the company, the decision maker might be the CEO, the head of the marketing department,

or even a committee of people from marketing, IT, and customer service. A smart decision maker involves

the users and influencers in her decision-making process to make the best choice. An investment in

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technology will not only be expensive, but will last for years; once a company makes a commitment to

integrate their systems with a technology company, it is not practical to make frequent changes. The

decision making process in B2B can take days, weeks, months, or even years to make, depending on the

company and the product or service being purchased.

Finding the “Power Level”

When you are selling in a B2B environment, you may not always have access to the ultimate decision

maker. But building a relationship with the initiator, influencers, and users can be just as important and

effective as meeting with the decision maker. However, you should always be aware of the “power level,”

or exactly the level in the organization that is making the buying decision. Sometimes, salespeople don’t

get to the power level, but instead stop at one or two levels below that critical level where the purchasing

decision is being made. If the vice president of human resources is making the decision as to which vendor

to choose for the company’s training programs, it’s important to build a relationship with her. Having a

relationship with the director of training is critical, but a successful salesperson wouldn’t stop there; he

would work to secure a relationship at the power level, which is the vice president.

Types of B2B Buying Situations

There’s still more you can learn about the B2B buying environment. Although companies are so different

from each other (some are large multinational corporations while others are one-person operations) and

the types of products and services being purchased are so different (everything from business cards to

office buildings), it might seem difficult to know how to apply the concepts covered to every buying

situation. One way is to understand the different types of buying situations that face a B2B buyer.

New-Task Buy

If a company is moving its headquarters to a new building that does not come equipped with office

furniture, the company will need to acquire furniture for all of its employees. This is a new purchase for

the company, which would classify it as a new-task buy. [35] When a customer is contemplating a new-task

buy, it is an excellent opportunity to use your consultative selling skills to bring information to your

customer to help her make the best possible decision.

Straight Rebuy

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What if your customer is already purchasing the product or service regularly? Although he may currently

be purchasing the product from you, he already knows about the product or service, how to use it, and

how much he is currently paying for it. This is called a straight rebuy, [36] a routine repurchase of a product

or service. Usually, straight rebuys are consumable products or supplies such as office supplies,

maintenance supplies, or parts. This is an opportunity for you to shine, whether the customer is currently

purchasing from you or not. When purchases are on “auto pilot,” sometimes the salesperson gets lazy,

takes the business for granted, and doesn’t go the extra mile to suggest something new or better. If a

prospective customer is already buying from someone else, you have the opportunity to win her over by

suggesting a better or more efficient product, a different pack size or method of replenishment, or other

ideas that will help the customer save time or money or increase quality. For straight rebuys, it is often

price that gets the customer’s attention, but it is service (or lack of it) that makes the customer switch


Modified Rebuy

Sometimes, your customer may already be purchasing the product but wants to change the specifications;

this is called a modified rebuy. [37] For example, when the magazine Vanity Fair did a split run of their

magazine cover for their September 2009 issue, they printed half of the copies with Michael Jackson on

the cover and half with Farrah Fawcett. [38] Although they print the magazine monthly, they modified the

printing specifications for that issue. Therefore, the sales rep from the printer sold the September 2009

print run as a modified rebuy. Selling to a customer who is purchasing a modified rebuy is an excellent

opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility and creativity. Many times, customers have an idea in mind

for a modification, but if you can bring them ideas and insights that will help them increase their business

profitably, you will have the upper hand in securing the buy.

Figure 6.8

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The September 2009 issue of Vanity Fair magazine is an example of a modified rebuy because the normal print order was

adjusted to print two different covers.[39]

Strategic Alliance

Although most B2B selling depends on relationships, some selling situations go above and beyond the

traditional relationship between a salesperson and the customer. Some relationships go to the next level

and actually create a partnership that puts both parties at risk and provides opportunities for all parties to

gain; this is called a strategic alliance. The relationship between Yahoo! and Microsoft is an example of a

strategic alliance. The two companies finally decided to join forces in July 2009 in an effort to leverage

resources as a stronger competitor to industry leader Google. As part of the relationship, Microsoft will

power Yahoo!’s search with its new engine called Bing; Yahoo! will receive 88 percent of the search-

generated advertising revenues from Bing.[40] Both Microsoft and Yahoo! have “skin in the game,” which

means that each party has something at risk and much to gain. The strategic alliance represents a way for

both companies to prosper in the Internet search business. Separately, each represents less than one-fifth

of the searches done in the United States. Together, their market share is 28 percent, still a far cry from

industry-leading Google at 65 percent. [41] Despite spending billions, neither company has been successful

overtaking Google alone; the strategic alliance gives these companies a chance to compete. [42]

Figure 6.9

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Bing, the search engine created by Microsoft, is now also the search engine used on Yahoo!

Who Makes the Buying Decision?

In many companies, there is a function called buyer, purchasing manager, materials manager, or

procurement manager. These are the people who are responsible for making buying products, services,

and supplies for the company or for the company’s customers. In most cases, they are the decision makers

for purchasing decisions.

Because most purchasing decisions in a company have a significant impact on the users and on the

profitability of the company, some companies create cross-functional teams called a buying center. These

people work together to make important buying decisions for the company or organization. For example,

many colleges and universities have a buying center that makes decisions that impact all users in the

school such as a new e-mail system, classroom, or dormitory supplies. [43]

• Customer behavior is a science, not an art, driven by specific needs that drive motivation.

• A consumer who purchases in a B2C environment is the end user of the product or service.

• A B2B purchaser, also called an organizational or institutional purchaser, buys a product or service to sell

to another company or to the ultimate consumer.

• B2B purchasers may be producers, resellers, or organizations.

• B2B buys are characterized by being methodical, complex, budgeted, high risk, analytical, and

coordinated across different parts of the company.

• B2B purchases are larger than B2C purchases, include multiple buyers, involve a smaller number of

customers, and are geographically concentrated.

• Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes how people are motivated based on the level of needs that are

being satisfied. Understanding a customer’s motivation based on the hierarchy can provide valuable

insights for selling.

• There can be several types of people involved in a B2B purchasing decision,

including users, initiators, influencers, and decision makers.

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• An individual such as a buyer, purchasing manager, or materials manager might make buying decisions.

Some companies use a buying center, a cross-functional team that makes buying decisions on behalf of

the company.


1. Visit at least two different retailers. Determine whether each has a transition zone at the front of the

store. Discuss the differences between the shopping experiences. Which one is more conducive to


2. Identify one B2C seller and one B2B seller. Describe at least three differences between their buyers.

3. Identify one B2B company or organization that fits each of the following descriptions and describe

why each belongs in the category:

o Producer

o Reseller

o Government

o Nonprofit organization

4. Consider each of the following products and services. Evaluate each one based on utilitarian need

and hedonic need:

o Trip to Las Vegas

o Subscription to Rolling Stone magazine

o Internet service

o College education

o iPod Touch

5. Jessica wants to celebrate her twenty-first birthday in style. She bought a new outfit, had her nails done,

and went to the tanning salon. She is not only having a party for one hundred of her closest friends, but

she is going to broadcast it live on Facebook and Twitter while the party is going on. Which need on

Maslow’s hierarchy is Jessica striving to satisfy?

6. Assume you are a salesperson for Chevrolet and you are among the first to sell the new electric-powered

car called Volt. Which need on Maslow’s hierarchy is the car designed to meet?

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7. Imagine you work in the communications department of your school. Homecoming is just a few weeks

away, and you are in charge of getting the banner for the parking lot, which will direct alumni where to

park. This year, the directions to the parking are different than they were on the banner last year. Identify

the type of purchase a new banner for the parking lot is and explain.

8. Assume you are selling printers and copiers to a group of clinics. The buying center includes people from

purchasing, information technology, administrative assistants, doctors, and nurses. Discuss the role that

each might take on as part of the buying center and the impact they may have on the final buying

decision. How might you interact with each one?

9. [1] Barbara Farfan, “Retail Industry Information: Overview of Facts, Research, Data, and Trivia,”, (accessed August

3, 2009).

10. [2] Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 99.

11. [3] Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 46.

12. [4] Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 46.

13. [5] Kristin Biekkola, “Needs versus Wants,” slide show,,http://www.wisc- (accessed August 2, 2009).

14. [8] United States Department of Health and Human

Services, (acces

sed August 2, 2009).

15. [10] Associated Press, “Looters Take Advantage of New Orleans Mess,”, August 30,

2005, (accessed August 2, 2009).

16. [11] Joel Roberts, “Christmas After Katrina,” CBS Evening News, December 25,

2005, August

2, 2009).

17. [13] Sheryl Kane, “Volunteer Vacations: Rebuilding New Orleans,” June 26, 2009,

SingleMindedWomen, August

2, 2009).

18. [15] Joy Messer, “Survivors of Hurricane Katrina Overcome Adversity and Open ‘Chappy’s on Church

Street,’” July 23, 2008, Associated

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tml?cat=22 (accessed August 2, 2009).

19. [16] Mary Cantando, “How Savvy Women Entrepreneurs Make Buying Decisions,” Women Entrepreneurs,

Inc., January 1,

2005, August

1, 2009).

20. [17] Jeremy Liew, “Why Do People Buy Virtual Goods?” Wall Street Journal, February 9,

2009, (accessed August 1, 2009).

21. [19] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th

ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 86.

22. [21] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th

ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 88.

23. [22] Office of Management and Budget, “Updated Summary Tables, May 2009: Budget of the U.S.

Government, Fiscal Year

2010,” (accessed August 2, 2009).

24. [23] Jeremy Korzeniewski, “U.S. Government Buys 17,205 Cars for $287 Million, Ford Represents,”

Autoblog Green,

for-287-million-ford-repr (accessed August 2, 2009).

25. [25] Lance Armstrong Foundation, (accessed August 2, 2009).

26. [26] Lance Armstrong Foundation, (accessed August 2, 2009).

27. [27] Randy Shattuck, “Understand the B2B Buying Cycle,” http://www.internetviz- (accessed August 1, 2009).

28. [30] United States Census Bureau,

Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/004491.html(accessed August 2,


29. [32] Kae Groshong Wagner, “The B2B Buying Process,” http://www.internetviz- (accessed August 2, 2009).

30. [34] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 97.

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31. [35] Gerald L. Manning, Barry L. Reece, and Michael Ahearne, Selling Today: Creating Customer Value,

11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010), 163.

32. [36] Gerald L. Manning, Barry L. Reece, and Michael Ahearne, Selling Today: Creating Customer Value,

11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010), 163.

33. [37] Gerald L. Manning, Barry L. Reece, and Michael Ahearne, Selling Today: Creating Customer Value,

11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010), 163.

34. [38] Lorena Bias, “Fawcett, Jackson Get ‘Fair’ Magazine Play,” USA Today, August 3, 2009, life 1.

35. [39] “Vanity Fair’s Two September 2009 Covers: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett Split Cover,” Huffington

Post, August 3, 2009,

septembe_n_249809.html(accessed February 20, 2010).

36. [40] “Yahoo-Microsoft Deal,” New York Times, July 30,


deal/index.html (accessed August 3, 2009).

37. [41] Patricia Resende, “Microsoft Keeps Watchful Eye on Yahoo’s Earnings,” Yahoo! Tech, July 20,

2009, (accessed August 3, 2009).

38. [42] “Yahoo-Microsoft Deal,” New York Times, July 30,


deal/index.html (accessed August 3, 2009).

6.2 How the Buying Process Works

1. List the steps in the buying process and describe how and why the process is evolving.

2. Understand the role of emotions in the buying decision.

3. Learn how to use FAB for effective selling.

For years, the buying process was considered to be linear; scholars and researchers who closely

monitored buying behavior identified several steps that the B2B customer goes through before she

makes a purchase. It’s helpful to understand these steps to appreciate the changes that are taking

place, even as you read this.

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The Traditional View of the Seven Steps of the B2B Buying Process

You are probably familiar with buying as a consumer. But did you ever think about how Aéropostale

decides what products will be in their stores for the spring season, how a restaurant determines which

beverages it will offer, or how Hewlett-Packard (HP) identifies which parts it will use to manufacture its

printers? The buying process outlines the steps that the B2B customer goes through when he is making a

purchasing decision on behalf of the company. This process applies whether the buying decision is being

made by an individual or by a buying center.

1. Recognizing the need. The buyer realizes there is a need for the product or service. [1] In the B2B

environment, this might occur because of an internal need (e.g., the company needs more office space) or

because of a customer need (e.g., green tea is becoming more popular, and so we want to offer it on our

menu). This is the ideal opportunity for you to learn about your customers’ needs, although it may be

difficult to know exactly when a customer or prospective customer is beginning this step. That’s why it’s

important to engage your customer in dialogue to understand their current and future needs. Sometimes,

you can help your customer see an opportunity that he didn’t realize.

2. Defining the need. This step usually involves users as well as initiators to put more definition around

the type of product or service that will help meet the need. [2] For example, in the case of office space, the

head of facilities would ask the head of human resources about the types of new positions that will be

needed and the type of workspace each requires. He might also ask for insight from each hiring manager

or department head in the company, such as the head of operations, marketing, finance, and other areas.

This will help him more fully understand the general type of product or service that is needed. Salespeople

can play a role in this step of the buying process by sharing information and insights from other

customers, without divulging any confidential information.

3. Developing the specifications. This is the step at which the exact needs are outlined. [3] For

example, if Target identified the need to create its own brand of DVD player, the appropriate people in the

company would determine the exact specifications of the product: what functions it will have, how large it

will be, what materials it will be made of, how many colors will be offered, and all other attributes of the

product. When a salesperson has a good relationship with a customer, the buyer might ask the

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salesperson for insights and advice on different features, functionality, and production costs to finalize the

product or service specifications.

4. Searching for appropriate suppliers. This step is focused on researching potential suppliers. This

research can be conducted online by doing a Google search for suppliers of the desired product or

service. [4] Trade associations are also an excellent source as many provide unbiased evaluations of

suppliers; for example, Forrester Research publishes a report on Web site analytic tools.

Forrester Research Reports on Web Site Analytics Tools

And industry trade shows can be an excellent source of information about prospective suppliers. One of

the best ways to identify suppliers is by referrals; use your business network, including LinkedIn, to get

feedback about reliable suppliers that might be able to meet your needs.

5. Requesting proposals. This is when the buyer or buying center develops a

formal request for proposal, often called an RFP, and she identifies several potential vendors that could

produce the product or service. [5] For example, if Home Depot decided that it wanted to upgrade its bags,

the buyer would have determined the specification, quantity, shipping points, usage, and other

requirements (e.g., being environmentally friendly), and put the information into a formal document that

is sent to several bag manufacturers along with questions about the history of the company, key

customers, locations, manufacturing capacity, turnaround time, and other relevant information. Each

manufacturer would have the opportunity to respond to the RFP with a formalproposal, which means that

each company would provide information about their company, capabilities, delivery, and pricing to

manufacture the bags. This is an opportunity for a salesperson to respond with a complete proposal that

addresses the customer’s needs and concerns. See the sample RFP template for a nonprofit organization


RFP Template for a Nonprofit Organization

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6. Evaluating proposals. After the proposals are submitted, the buyer or buying center reviews each

one and determines whether the company would be a good fit for the project. At this point, the number of

potential vendor choices is narrowed to a select few. Usually, salespeople from each of the chosen

companies are invited to meet with the buyer or buying center to discuss the proposal, capabilities, and

pricing. Negotiation for pricing, quality, timing, service, and other attributes may also take place during

this step. [6] This is the step where a salesperson may need to overcome objections, or the reasons why the

customer may not want to choose her as the company of choice. [7]

7. Making the buying decision. The buyer or buying center chooses one (or the necessary number) of

companies to execute the project, finalizes details, negotiates all aspects of the arrangement, and signs a

contract. This step requires perseverance and attention to detail on the part of the salesperson. Once the

decision is made, the real business of selling begins: delivering the product or service as agreed upon and

building the relationship.

8. Postpurchase evaluation. Throughout the buying process, the buyer is provided all the good news:

how the new product or service will solve her company’s problems, increase demand, reduce costs, or

improve profitability. It is the postpurchase evaluation that tells the tale. Did the product or service

perform as promised? Was the delivery and installation done correctly and on time? Are the business

results in line with expectations? Is the relationship growing? Do the salesperson and his company really

care about the performance of the buyer’s company? Does the salesperson add value to the buyer’s

company? This is where the rubber meets the road; it presents an opportunity for the salesperson to

communicate, anticipate, and solve any problems that may have arisen. [8]

The process makes sense and is a flow of systematic steps that leads a B2B buyer through a logical buying

process. But there are two flaws in this thinking that significantly impact the buying process and, as a

result, the selling process: (1) the Internet changes everything and (2) emotions dominate B2B

buying. [9], [10]

The Internet Changes Everything

It used to be that B2B buyers relied on salespeople to get information, demonstrations, and cost about

products and services. Salespeople sold, and buyers bought; the world was a simpler place.

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Today, B2B buyers are doing the work of two or even three employees because there are fewer people

working at companies due to cutbacks and restructuring. The fact is, buyers don’t have the time to meet

with salespeople like they used to. And the Internet has been a game changer. Buyers can not only

research product and supplier options online, but they can also see product specifications, view

demonstration videos, participate in online forums, get real-time recommendations and feedback from

users on social networks, and basically be smarter than any salesperson before he even calls for an

appointment. [11] The power has shifted from sellers to buyers. In fact, the Internet has had such a

profound effect on how people make purchasing decisions that the Wall Street Journal has coined a new

term: “new info shopper.” These are people who can’t buy anything without getting information online

first. What’s even more important to note is the fact that 92 percent of new info shoppers have more

confidence in the information they get online than from an ad, salesperson, or other company source. [12]

So what’s a salesperson to do? Stop, listen, and help your customer make the best decision for her

business, even if it means that she doesn’t buy your product. Despite the importance of the Internet in

providing information throughout the buying process, B2B buyers still gather insight from a variety of

sources that include salespeople. Successful salespeople are those that truly focus on the buyer’s needs,

which may mean giving up the sale and bringing valuable feedback to your company to change the

product, service, or other options that are reasons why customers might not buy from you. The new world

order requires everyone to rethink the conventional wisdom. Selling used to be something you “do to” a

customer; now it’s something you “do for” a customer.[13] The salespeople who win are the ones who listen

in person, on the phone, and online, then make the recommendation that is in the customer’s best


Information is no longer the exclusive domain of the salesperson. But great salespeople bring value to

their customers with ideas, insights, knowledge, and personal commitment that can’t be duplicated on a

Web site, online forum, or even on a social network. And the role of the Internet in B2B buying decisions

is changing quickly.

Sales 2.0 has changed the way people seek, receive, and interact online. The Internet used to be only an

information source, a place to search Web sites for information. But static Web sites have given way to not

only information gathering, but to problem solving. Crowdsourcing occurs when a company takes a job

that is traditionally done by an employee and issues an “open call,” usually online, to people all over the

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world to solve the problem. This is a new way for businesses and individuals to leverage the Internet in an

efficient and effective way. [14] Crowdsourcing uses the wisdom of the crowd in a virtual way to make

information and solutions readily available to everyone.

Salespeople can embrace crowdsourcing and bring the power of the crowd to solve any customer problem.

Facebook, iPhone apps, and YouTube are just three examples of crowdsourcing. Consider this example of

the power of the crowd: Apple offered more than 65,000 apps for its iPhone in less than two years, and

the number is projected to rise to 300,000 in 2010. [15], [16]

Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
What’s Next? Ask the Crowd

How do content companies know what people will want to read about in six months? How do retailers

determine what color will be hot next season? How will car companies know what defines luxury next

year?, a global trend service, uses a team of global network of business and marketing-

savvy “spotters” (a.k.a. the crowd) in 120 countries to gather data, observe consumers, and talk to the

people who are innovators and trendsetters to identify what’s next. offers a free

version of its basic trend reports on its Web site (, but also sells premium and

customized trend information to all types of companies such a retailers, media companies, manufacturers,

and others. [17]

The use of technology in B2B selling, especially social networking, will continue to explode

as digital natives (people, probably like you, who are under the age of 27) move into the workplace and

meet the digital immigrants, Generation X and baby boomers who accept technology, but developed their

online habits during a different time. Processes, behaviors, communication, and decisions will occur

differently in the future.

Emotions Dominate B2B Buying

Whether you look at the traditional buying process or the role the Internet plays in providing information,

it appears that the B2B buying process is logical and rational, but appearances can be deceiving. Despite

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the implication and belief that companies make purchasing decisions based on facts, it’s a good idea to

remember one of the key tenets of B2B buying mentioned earlier: business-to-business means person-to-

person. That means that although a B2B buyer is making a decision on behalf of her company, she still

behaves like a consumer and is subject to emotions and feelings. “People rationalize buying decisions

based on facts, but they make buying decisions based on feeling,” according to Bryan Eisenberg from [18]

Fear and Trust

You learned in how important trust is in a relationship. People won’t buy from someone they don’t trust,

which is why some salespeople are more successful than others; they work to establish and develop trust

with the customer. People buy when they feel comfortable with the product and the salesperson and when

they believe it is the best decision they can make. They want to do business with someone who

understands all their needs, not just the needs of the product or service. And because the B2B purchasing

process usually includes multiple people, it means that the salesperson needs to develop a relationship

and establish trust with as many people involved in the purchasing process as possible.

Although trust is a positive emotion that can influence a sale, an even stronger emotion in B2B buying is

fear. B2B buyers have several fears, not the least of which is being taken for a fool. Many executives have

had the experience of being told one thing by a salesperson only to learn the hard way that what he said

just wasn’t true. “People are afraid of being sold,” according to Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master

the Art of Selling. [19] The best way to overcome this fear is to demonstrate that you are trustworthy. That

means something as simple as returning a phone call when you say you will, or following up with

information as promised. Even the language that you use can signal trust. For example, “initial

investment” is a better term than “down payment,” “fee” is more customer-friendly than “commission,”

“agreement” says something different than “contract,” and “can’t” sounds more negative than “would you

consider.” Understand your customer’s fear of buying and replace it with comfort, trust, and confidence—

in you. [20]

Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
Fear as an Opportunity

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Norm Brodsky is the owner of an archive-retrieval business called CitiStorage. He is a master salesperson

because he is an astute listener and understands how to “listen between the lines” to pick up on

customers’ fears. One day he was showing a prospective customer through his facility when she saw all the

boxes and said, “Gee, aren’t you afraid of having a fire in this place?” Norm was not concerned at all

because he already had backup coverage. But he realized that she was afraid of a fire so instead of simply

saying that he was not concerned, he took the opportunity to address and respect her fear, not gloss over

it. He responded by saying, “Yes, certainly, I’ve thought about the danger of a fire, and let me show you

what we’ve done about it.” [21] He used the opportunity to put her fear to rest, even before his sales


Some consumer products such as virus protection, security systems, or insurance, appeal to the emotion

of fear; consumers balance the assurance of owning it with the pain of acquiring it. (Let’s face it: It’s more

fun to buy a new PC than to buy virus protection.) However, in the B2B buying process, the buyer is not

the person who experiences the benefits of the product or service she purchased. [22] The fact is if the

product or service doesn’t perform as expected or doesn’t generate the desired results, the decision maker

could put their job in jeopardy. [23] “B2B buying is all about minimizing fear by minimizing risk,”

according to a recent study by Marketo, a B2B marketing company. [24] There are actually two kinds of

risk: organizational risk and personal risk. Most salespeople address the organizational risk by discussing

the rational aspects of the product or service with information such as, “This server accommodates more

than five times as much traffic as your current server.” However, it is the personal risk, which is usually

not articulated, that has a significant impact on the buying decision. This is especially true today given the

focus on personal accountability, budgets, and performance. Imagine being the buyer at a fashion

boutique that bought too many plaid skirts and has to request a budget for markdowns, or the decision

maker who bought the computer system to power the United States’ government car rebate program,

Cash for Clunkers, which was delayed for over three weeks because the system crashed. [25] Some

purchasing decisions at certain companies have been so bad that people have been fired as a result. Every

B2B purchaser thinks about nightmares like this, so she is naturally risk-averse. The best approach in

these instances is for the salesperson to reassure her that you realize how important it is for her to look

good to her boss and throughout her organization as a result of the decision and show her exactly how you

will help her do that. [26]

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Fear is a strong motivator in a B2B buying decision, and it can’t simply be addressed in one meeting or

conversation. Successful salespeople are aware of it in each contact and use every opportunity to

demonstrate trustworthiness. “It’s how you handle the little things that show customers how you’ll handle

the big ones,” says Tom Hopkins. [27] It’s best to look at the situation from your customer’s vantage point;

you’ll see more clearly how you can deliver value.[28]

The Evolving Buying and Selling Processes

The framework for the buying and selling processes has been in place for many years. The buying process

changes literally every day and has dramatic impact on the selling process. As a result, the “new”

processes are not yet clearly defined. One thing is for certain; the processes are no longer organized,

controllable functions. “Linear is so twentieth century,” according to the author of Consumerspace:

Conquering Marketing Strategies for a Branded World. [29] Cultural, social, and technological changes

will continue to drive companies for even better performance, faster, and with ideas as currency, which

will continue to drive change in the buying process.

To understand the impact of the rapid changes occurring in the buying process, it’s important to know the

basic steps in the selling process. The next seven chapters review the selling process in detail and include

insights into how the process is changing. A study by William Moncrief and Greg W. Marshall provides a

roadmap for the evolution of the selling process in .

Table 6.2 The Evolution of the Seven Steps of Selling
Traditional Seven Steps

of Selling Transformative Factors Evolved Selling Process

1. Prospecting

• Telemarketing

• Internet selling

• Organizational prospecting
Customer retention and deletion

2. Preapproach
• Laptop account data

• Support staff

Database and knowledge


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Traditional Seven Steps
of Selling Transformative Factors Evolved Selling Process

3. Approach
• Build a foundation

Nurturing the relationship

(relationship selling)

4. Presentation

• PowerPoint/multimedia

• Listening

• Team selling

• Multiple calls

• Value-added

• Buying centers
Marketing the product

5. Overcoming

• Predetermining needs

Problem solving

6. Close
• Identifying mutual goals

Adding value/satisfying needs

7. Follow-Up
• Increased effectiveness of communication

through technology

Customer relationship


Source: Reprinted from Industrial Marketing Management, 34/1, William C. Montcrief and Greg W.

Marshall, “The Evolution of the Seven Steps of Selling,” 13–22, Copyright (2005), with permission from


Buying Process Meets FAB

No matter how the buying process evolves, customers continue to make purchase decisions driven by

emotions. You learned how motivating trust and fear are for people who are making B2B buying

decisions. Comfort, vanity, convenience, pleasure, desire to succeed, security, prevention of loss, and need

to belong are all emotions that motivate purchases. A company may want to build a new building that

carries its brand name downtown to signal its importance to the city and business community; that would

be an example of vanity as a motivator. Or perhaps the company wants to move its headquarters to a

better part of town to provide better security for its employees. Maybe a prominent figure in the

community donates a large sum of money to your college motivated by the desire to give back. The same

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types of motivations apply to B2C purchases: a woman purchases makeup in the hopes of looking as

beautiful as the model in the ads, a man buys a sports car in the hopes of turning heads, a student buys a

microwave for the convenience of having food when she wants it.

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Figure 6.10 Nutritional Information

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Emotions are the driving force in so many B2C and B2B purchases that you might not even realize it.

Consider this: would you buy the product in ?

So how do you create the same type of emotional appeal with your customers? The answer is simple: FAB.

While you might not consider buying it based on only this factual information, you probably have bought

this product based on the emotional appeal of the packaging, advertising, and other marketing messages

that tell you that the product is the best late-night snack.

Consider this information that was on the home page of Amazon recently:

3G wireless means books in 60 seconds. No monthly fees, service plans or hunting for Wi-Fi

hotspots. Over 300,000 of the most popular books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs

available. [30]

Amazon truly understands how to use FAB, a selling technique that focuses onFeatures, Advantages,

and Benefits, to sell its Kindle electronic reader. FAB is more than a way of selling; it’s a way of thinking

like your customers. Using the Kindle as an example, here are the details about how to use the FAB

approach for effective selling.

• A feature is a “physical characteristic” of the product. [31] In the Kindle example above, the feature is

the 3G wireless capability. Features are characteristics of the product; a feature comparison chart

between the Kindle and the Kindle DX is shown below.

Figure 6.12 Feature Comparison Chart between the Kindle and the Kindle DX


• A product advantage is the “performance characteristic” of the product, or what the feature

does. [32] In the information about Kindle included at the start of this section, the advantages of the 3G

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service are that the user doesn’t need to hunt for Wi-Fi hotspots and that over 300,000 of the most

popular books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs are available in sixty seconds.

• The benefit is the “result” the buyer will realize from the product because of the product advantage, or

in other words, what the feature does or the result it delivers. [33] The benefit of the Kindle is the fact

that you can “rediscover reading anywhere, any time.” [34]

Amazon skillfully reinforces the benefit of portability by showing someone reading on a beach or a bus.

Why does FAB work? Because customers want to know what a product or service will do for them—not

just what it’s made of. B2C and B2B customers seek information before making a buying decision but are

also driven by emotions. FAB helps you appeal to a customer’s rational and emotional buying behavior by

providing the most compelling features and factual information and then showing how the features

provide an advantage that delivers a benefit. This is how salespeople help customers establish an

emotional connection with a product. You remember from the power of an emotional connection between

a customer and a brand.

You probably use FAB sometimes without even realizing it. “My new Lucky Brand jeans have a dirty wash,

fit great, and make me look thin. The best part is they were on sale for only $89.00.” The features are the

dirty wash and the fact that they were on sale for $89.00; the advantage is that they fit well (no easy feat

when it comes to jeans); the benefit is that they make you feel like you look thin and, as a result, make you

feel good when you wear them. Your statement is much more powerful when you frame it with FAB than if

you simply say, “I got some new jeans today for $89.00.”

Or maybe you stopped into McDonald’s and tried one of their new Angus Third Pounders. The product

feature is that the burger is one-third of a pound and is available in three flavor options; the advantage is

that it is thick and juicy; the benefit is that you will enjoy the taste and your hunger is satisfied. The FAB

message is more compelling than simply saying that you had a hamburger that was one-third of a pound;

that would be stopping at the feature and not offering an advantage or benefit.

If you want to be able to use FAB in conversation, simply think in terms of the following:

• Feature: what the product has

• Advantage: what the features do

• Benefit: what the features mean [35], [36]

gives features, advantages, and benefits for some common products.

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Table 6.3 FAB in Action
Product Feature Advantage Benefit

HP Pavilion

Computer 250-GB hard drive

Enough space to store music,

pictures, documents, and more.

Do more from playing video games

to downloading all of your favorite

music and still have space for your

homework projects.



4 all-inclusive nights

with airfare for only

$599 per person

Don’t worry about how to

budget for the cost of the

vacation because everything is

included in one low price.

Enjoy a spring break you will never

forget on a beach in the Caribbean.

2010 Honda


40 mpg highway/43

mpg city

Lower your gas prices with a

fuel-efficient Insight.

Be kind to the environment and

travel in comfort for less with an


For example, if you were describing Netflix in terms of FAB, you might say something like the following:

For only $8.99 a month you can watch as many movies as you want and never be charged a late

fee. You can order online and have a DVD delivered in about a day and exchange it as many

times as you want without a late fee, or you can watch streaming video of your favorite movies

online anytime. Now that’s total personalized entertainment.[37]

Now look at this FAB statement with the features, advantages, and benefits in bold:

For only $8.99 a month

  • you can watch as many movies as you want and never

    be charged a late fee [advantage]. You can order online and have a DVD delivered in

    about a day[advantage] and exchange it as many times as you want without a late

    fee [advantage], or you can watch streaming video of your favorite movies online

    anytime [advantage]. It definitely saves you time and money [benefit] and gives you total

    personalized entertainment [benefit].

    It’s easy to remember by using the FAB framework as your guide.

    [Name feature] means you [name advantage] with the real benefit to you being [name

    benefit]. [38]

    Here’s another example, based on research about the 2009 Nissan Cube: [39]

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    The Nissan Cube has funky, Japanese-like design and is friendly to the environment with a fuel-

    efficient 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine that gets over 30 miles per gallon. It’s hip, cool, and fun to

    drive. At $15,585, it’s a great value for the money.

    How to Use FAB

    Now that you know what FAB is, you probably want to know how to use it most effectively in selling. Here

    are three easy steps to put FAB to work for you:

    1. Know your customer. Benefits speak emotionally to customers in a way that rational facts can’t.

    But you need to know what is important to each customer. The health club that’s open twenty-four

    hours might be attractive to a young professional because he can work out late in the evening after a

    long day, whereas the club’s day care center might be appealing to a young mother. Similarly, in a B2B

    selling situation in which a buyer is evaluating warehouse space, one customer might be interested in

    the warehouse because of its state-of-the-art systems, while another might be focused on location.

    Know what motivates your customer, and then you can craft an effective FAB statement. [40]

    2. Think outside your box. If you want your FAB to work for your customer, you will need to deliver

    value in the form of benefits that she can’t get from anyone else. Think about your product or service

    in a different way; talk to people, watch the trends, see what else you can bring when you look at your

    product or service in a different way. Baking soda had traditionally been used as a leavening agent for

    baking. Arm & Hammer reinvented baking soda as a way to remove odors from refrigerators. Can you

    be as creative with the application for your product or service? [41]

    3. Get in touch with your customer’s motivation. Listen, learn, and craft an FAB message that

    will “have your customer at hello.” [42] Although that might be an overly romantic notion of how selling

    works, your goal is to have your customer fall in love with your product or service so much that it’s

    something he can’t live without. Imagine living without iTunes, your cell phone, or your favorite pair

    of jeans. That’s how your customer should feel about the product or service you are selling. If you

    understand his motivation, you can deliver features, advantages, and benefits that not only tell him

    why he should buy, but why he can’t afford not to.
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

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    • The traditional B2B buying process has seven steps: need recognition, defining the need, developing the

    specifications, searching for appropriate suppliers, evaluating proposals, making the buying decision, and

    postpurchase evaluation.

    • The Internet is a game-changer as it relates to the buying process because information is no longer the

    exclusive domain of the salesperson; the power has shifted from the seller to the buyer.

    • Crowdsourcing occurs when a company takes a job that is traditionally done by an employee and issues

    an “open call,” usually online, to people all over the world to solve the problem. Salespeople can

    use crowdsourcing to get the best solutions for their customers.

    • Emotions such as comfort, security, convenience, pleasure, and vanity are major motivations for buying


    • Trust and fear are especially important in B2B buying because the decision maker has to

    consider organizational risk and personal risk as part of his buying decision.

    • The buying process continues to evolve, which changes the selling process; the traditional selling process

    provides a foundation and insight into the evolution.

    • FAB (a.k.a. features, advantages, benefits) is the way to appeal to your customer’s emotions with

    factual and emotional appeals.

    o A feature is what a product has.

    o An advantage is what the feature does.

    o A benefit is what the features mean to the customer.
    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Identify a recent major purchase that you made recently. How did you recognize the need for the product

    or service? Where did you go to gather information about the options that were available to you? Did you

    use one method or a combination of methods?

    2. Contact a buyer at the headquarters of a retailer such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, GameStop, Costco, Urban

    Outfitters, or another company. Ask him about the process he uses to determine which products to put in

    the retail stores. Is his process similar to the process outlined in this chapter? How does it differ? How

    does his postpurchase evaluation impact his decision to buy the product again?

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    3. Based on the comment that “customers don’t want to be sold,” what should a salesperson do to

    sell to a customer? Identify an example of a good buying experience and a bad buying experience

    that you have had recently. Did the salesperson “sell” to you?

    4. Describe a situation in which a salesperson might use crowdsourcing.

    5. Assume you are a salesperson for a major telecommunications company and you are calling on a major

    construction company that is considering buying smart phones for the key people in the company.

    Describe at least one organizational risk and one personal risk that might be involved in the customer’s


    6. Identify a feature, advantage, and benefit for each of the following products and services:

    o MTV

    o Kia Sportage

    o Palm Pre

    o Virgin Mobile phone

    7. [1] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales

    Funnel,” (accessed August 1, 2009).

    8. [2] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales

    Funnel,” (accessed August 1, 2009).

    9. [3] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed.

    (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 93.

    10. [4] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales

    Funnel,” (accessed August 1, 2009).

    11. [5] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales

    Funnel,” (accessed August 1, 2009).

    12. [6] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales

    Funnel,” (accessed August 1, 2009).

    13. [7] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales

    Funnel,” (accessed August 1, 2009).

    14. [9] Geoffrey James, “Is Your Sales Process Obsolete?” BNET, March 30,

    2007, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    Saylor URL:

    15. [10] Bryan Eisenberg, “Buying Is Not a Rational Decision,” ClickZ, November 26,

    2001, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    16. [11] Geoffrey James, “Is Your Sales Process Obsolete?” BNET, March 30,

    2007, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    17. [12] Mark Penn, “New Info Shoppers,” January 8, 2009, Wall Street


    August 1, 2009).

    18. [13] Geoffrey James, “Is Your Sales Process Obsolete?” BNET, March 30,

    2007, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    19. [14] BrightSightGroup, “Jeff Howe: Crowdsourcing,” video, July 6,

    2008, (accessed August 3, 2009).

    20. [15] Will Park, “Apple Bans Hundreds of Spammer’s iPhone Apps,” Into Mobile, August 3,


    apps.html (accessed August 3, 2009).

    21. [16] Daniel Ionescu, “Android Market Hits 20,000 Apps Milestone,” PC World, December 16,

    2009, (acces

    sed December 20, 2009).

    22. [17], (accessed August 9, 2009).

    23. [18] Bryan Eisenberg, “Buying Is Not a Rational Decision,” ClickZ, November 26,

    2001, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    24. [19] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power Sales Management eNewsletter, August 18,

    2003, (accessed March 16, 2010).

    25. [20] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power, August 18,

    2003, (accessed June 21, 2010).

    26. [21] Norm Brodsky, “Listen and Earn,” Inc., March 1,

    1997, (accessed August 9, 2009).

    27. [22] “Beyond the B2B Buying Funnel: Exciting New Research About How Companies Make Complex

    Purchases,” Marketo, April 22, 2009,

    Saylor URL:

    funnel-exciting-new-research- about-how-companies-make-complex-purchases.html (accessed August 1,


    28. [23] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power, August 18,

    2003, (accessed June 21, 2010).

    29. [24] “Beyond the B2B Buying Funnel: Exciting New Research About How Companies Make Complex

    Purchases,” Marketo, April 22, 2009,

    funnel-exciting-new-research- about-how-companies-make-complex-purchases.html (accessed August 1,


    30. [25] “Cash for Clunkers Launch Postponed Due to Computer Crash,” U.S. News and World Report, July 24,


    Clunkers-Launch-Postponed-by-Computer-Crash(accessed August 4, 2009).

    31. [26] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power, August 18,

    2003, (accessed June 21, 2010).

    32. [27] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power, August 18,

    2003, (accessed June 21, 2010).

    33. [28] Bryan Eisenberg, “Buying Is Not a Rational Decision,” ClickZ, November 26,

    2001, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    34. [30], (accessed August 4, 2009).

    35. [31] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York:

    McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 114.

    36. [32] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York:

    McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 114.

    37. [33] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York:

    McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 114.

    38. [34], (accessed August 4, 2009).

    39. [35] Laura Clampitt Douglas, “Marketing Features vs.

    Benefits,” Entrepreneur,

    4942.html(accessed August 4, 2009).

    Saylor URL:

    40. [36] Bryan Eisenberg, “Want The to Buy? Sell Benefits,”, April 9,

    2001, (accessed August 4, 2009).

    41. [37] Netflix, (accessed July 12, 2009).

    42. [38] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York:

    McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 116.

    43. [39] Ben Stewart, “2009 Nissan Cube vs. Kia Soul vs. 2009 Scion xB: 300-Mile Fuel-Economy Test-

    Drive,” Popular Mechanics, February 24,

    2009, (accessed August 4,


    44. [40] Laura Clampitt Douglas, “Marketing Features vs.

    Benefits,” Entrepreneur,

    4942.html(accessed August 4, 2009).

    45. [41] Laura Clampitt Douglas, “Marketing Features vs.

    Benefits,” Entrepreneur,

    4942.html(accessed August 4, 2009).

    46. [42] IMDB, Jerry McGuire, written and directed by Cameron Crowe, released December 13,

    1996, (accessed August 4, 2009).

    6.3 Selling U: Developing and Communicating Your Personal

    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E S

    1. Understand how to develop your personal FAB message.

    2. Learn how to make your FAB message memorable in an interview.

    You can see that FAB is a powerful way to build an emotional connection with a customer. It is also

    an excellent way to stand out to a prospective employer in an interview. You’ll learn more about the

    interviewing process in the Selling Usection of , but now it’s a good idea to do some advance


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    You’ve already done a lot of work that will serve you well as you network and interview—you’ve

    identified your brand positioning points in the Selling Usection of , put them to work in your résumé

    and cover letter in , and developed your elevator pitch in . All these activities help you bring your

    personal FAB (feature, advantage, benefit) message into focus. Your FAB message will help you tell

    the details about your brand and will help you tell your “stories” about your experience and

    accomplishments during your interviews.

    Stories Paint Pictures

    If getting the job or internship you want were only about the facts, you would only need to present your

    résumé on a job interview. But prospective employers are looking for that “certain something,” an

    emotional connection that helps them know that you are the one. [1] Every candidate comes into an

    interview trying to impress the interviewee and saying how much he wants the job. Why not stand out,

    show, and sell?

    Think about your three brand positioning points you developed in . Now, think about the stories that

    demonstrate each one in terms of FAB. shows you some examples.

    Table 6.4 Personal FAB Example

    Point Feature Advantage Benefit



    Had an internship

    at an advertising


    I worked on the Limited, Too

    account developing Twitter

    conversations with target


    I can help SpitFire engage its

    customers directly and learn about

    shopping preferences using social





    Worked as a

    server at Olive


    I interacted with customers and

    provided excellent customer

    service under pressure.

    I understand how to handle

    multiple tasks under pressure

    without losing my cool.



    President of Young



    I developed a forum for local

    investors to regularly hear pitches

    from student entrepreneurs,

    I understand the process it takes to

    turn ideas into profitable

    businesses, and I’m able to be the

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    Point Feature Advantage Benefit

    which led to the launch of three

    new products.

    driving force behind bringing

    people, ideas, and money together.

    Every Picture Tells a Story

    Take your FAB one step up and create a portfolio that you can show during job interviews. When

    you tell someone about your experience and accomplishments, that’s good, but showing them really helps

    you stand out in the crowd. If you are lucky enough to get an interview, capitalize on the opportunity to

    sell yourself. Keep in mind that most companies interview at least two or three people, and sometimes

    more, before they make their hiring decision.

    A portfolio isn’t just for creative or advertising people; everyone should have a portfolio. It is simply a

    collection of samples of your work from class projects, internships, volunteer projects, and any other work

    that demonstrates your skills. [2] Creating a portfolio is as simple as putting samples of your work in a

    three-ring binder

    You probably have more samples of your work than you think. And each sample is an excellent way to

    show and tell your FAB. Here are some ideas about what to put in your portfolio:

    • Class projects. Choose those projects that demonstrate your skills, especially in your major. For

    example, if you did a sales presentation, include a video clip along with your selling aids. Or if you

    created a PR plan, include the plan along with the exhibits. Group projects are acceptable as long as

    the group names are included on the title page. A team project allows you to talk about how you

    provided leadership to the team or helped the team get focused.

    • Internship projects. If you had an internship or multiple internships, include samples of the

    projects on which you worked. For example, include copies of Web pages, brochures, flyers, graphs,

    presentations, or other samples of your work.

    • Volunteer projects. If you have been involved in a student group, community service, or other

    service organization, include samples of the projects on which you worked. For example, if your group

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    did a fundraiser for breast cancer, include the flyer for the event along with photos and a summary of

    the contributions.

    You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
    Keep a Copy

    Whenever you work on a class project, internship, volunteer project, or any other type of project that

    demonstrates your skills, keep a copy for your portfolio. The same is true when you begin working; keep

    copies of all your projects to continue to build your portfolio throughout your career. You never know

    when you will need to show samples of your work. It’s best to avoid including any confidential or

    proprietary information from companies or organizations.

    • Other work samples. If you enjoy photography, writing, design, selling on eBay, or other activity

    that has application to the position for which you are seeking, include that work. In other words, print

    the Web page for your eBay store along with the feedback you have received, include photographs or

    other projects on which you have worked to show your work. If you don’t have samples of your work

    for your portfolio, consider starting a blog and print copies of your entries.

    • Letters of recommendation. Ask for a letter of recommendation from former supervisors,

    colleagues, team leaders, professors, and other people who will be happy to write a letter about your

    skills. [3] If you have had a summer job or internship, ask your former boss and other people with

    whom you worked to write a letter of recommendation. Keep the copies of the letters in your portfolio

    and show them to prospective employers during your interview. Although these letters are different

    from references, they serve the purpose of showing your prospective employer how highly people

    regard you and your work. You will be asked for references after the interview process if you are one

    of the final candidates. See the Selling Usection in for more information about how to contact and

    submit references, including how letter of recommendation from references can help set you apart.

    Tips to Make Your Portfolio Even More Powerful

    After you gather all of your work samples, here are a few tips that will help you organize them for an

    effective visual story.

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    • Choose a few work samples. Select samples (no more than five or six) that reflect your brand

    positioning points. If leadership is important, be sure to include projects, results, pictures, and other

    visual elements that will demonstrate your leadership story.

    • Create a summary page for each work sample. Include bullet points for the project name,

    objective, approach or strategy, and results. A sample is provided in . This will help you quickly

    summarize the key points when you are showing your portfolio.

    Figure 6.13 Sample Summary Page

    • Use clean copies, in color where appropriate. Avoid using papers that include comments or

    grades. Use fresh, clean copies of all samples. If you need to make a copy of an original document that

    was in color, splurge and pay for color copies; it’s worth it.

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    • Include extra copies of your résumé. Your portfolio is a great place to keep at least three or four

    extra copies of your most current résumé printed on twenty-four-pound paper. Although your

    interviewer may have already received your résumé before the interview, he may not have it handy

    when you come in. Or you may be asked to meet with some people that were not on the original

    interview schedule. If this is the case, you can be the consummate professional and offer your

    interviewer a reference copy of your résumé. It’s also the perfect time to mention your portfolio.

    • Use a professional binder or portfolio. Visit a local or online art supply or office supply store

    and get a professional three-ring binder or portfolio. You can include your work samples in plastic

    sleeves, but it is not required. Many portfolios include plastic sleeves for your samples. Ask if the store

    offers a student discount.

    Make It Memorable
    As you develop your FAB and portfolio, think about the stories you want to tell about each one. Stories are

    much more powerful than facts. For example, “I can really appreciate what it takes to go the extra mile for

    a customer. When I worked at J&J Catering, they needed someone to mix the giant vats of cookie dough.

    Needless to say, I spent hours working with the dough, but I wanted to make it interesting, so I learned

    how ingredients work together, and I created a new recipe for lemon cookies that became the signature

    dessert of the company.”

    A portfolio is a must to bring on a job interview. You might be wondering if it’s a good idea to also create

    an online portfolio. The answer is “yes.” Creating your own professional Web site as a way to showcase

    your résumé, samples of your work, awards, and letter of recommendation is a perfect way to build your

    brand and demonstrate to your prospective employer that you have additional technology skills.

    Your online portfolio, or Web site, should include all the elements that are included in your offline

    portfolio. Since space is not an issue, you may want to include even more samples of your work, especially

    if you have writing or design samples. This is also an ideal place to include a link to your blog.

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    A word of caution: Your professional Web site should be exactly that—professional. That means no

    personal photos, comments, or casual blog posts from friends. In other words, your Facebook page is not

    an appropriate place for your professional Web site. Use a business-like domain name

    (; if you don’t already have one, you can get one at Google or,

    for a minimal annual fee.

    Use your online portfolio as a way to sell yourself on your résumé: add your Web site address to your

    contact information and mention it in your cover letter. [4] See résumé and cover letter samples in

    the Selling U section in .

    How to Use Your Portfolio in an Interview

    It’s always best to bring your portfolio to every interview, even if it’s an informational interview. In most

    cases, the interviewer will not ask you about your portfolio so you will have to bring it up in the


    Be proud of showing your work samples. The Financial Times, in reference to Peggy Klaus’ book Brag:

    The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, wrote, “Start bragging…if you don’t speak up for

    yourself, who will?” [5] To ensure that you are getting all of your FAB points across, it’s best to rehearse

    how you will review your portfolio in an interview. Keep in mind that time is short so it’s best to be

    concise and underscore the FAB points you want your interviewer to remember. A portfolio is an excellent

    visual tool that makes your FAB message come alive for your prospective employer. The bottom line is, “If

    you walk into an interview empty-handed, you’re missing an opportunity.” [6]
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • Develop your FAB message using your brand positioning points as a foundation. Develop one or

    more FAB messages for each point.

    • Create a portfolio to bring on job interviews to visually tell your FAB messages. Include extra copies of

    your résumé, samples of your work from class projects, internships, volunteer work, and relevant hobbies

    in a professional three-ring binder. Be sure all samples are clean and are in color where appropriate.

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    • You can also create an online portfolio on a professional Web site that includes the same information as

    your physical portfolio. Also include your Web site address in the contact information on your résumé

    and mention it in your cover letter.

    • Be ready to introduce and review your portfolio in an interview; you’ll need to take the initiative as your

    prospective employer won’t know you have work samples to show.

    • Be proud of showing your work samples. Rehearse exactly what you will say about each sample and keep

    it concise.

    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Write down your FAB using the chart below. What examples or stories can you tell about each


    Brand Positioning Point Feature Advantage Benefit

    2. Identify at least four samples of your work that you can include in your portfolio. Discuss which FAB

    message each sample demonstrates. Create a summary sheet for each sample.

    3. Shop online or in a local art supply or office supply store and identify a professional binder or portfolio for

    your samples.

    4. Review your portfolio with a professor, supervisor, or other professional. Ask for feedback on your

    portfolio and presentation.

    5. [1] Bryan Eisenberg, “Buying Is Not a Rational Decision,” ClickZ, November 26,

    2001, (accessed August 1, 2009).

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    6. [2] “Job Search: Back Up Your Resume with a Portfolio,”, (accessed August 5, 2009).

    7. [3] Maureen Crawford Hentz, “How to Obtain and Use References and Recommendation Letters,”


    Careers, (accessed August 5,


    8. [4] Resumemic09, “What Is a Portfolio and How Can I Use One to Get a Job?” video, July 24,

    2009, (accessed August 5, 2009).

    9. [5] Peggy Klaus, Brag: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It (New York: Hachette Book

    Group, 2003), front cover.

    10. [6] “How to Create an Awesome Work Portfolio,”,

    wto/jobsearch/portfolio.htm (accessed August 5, 2009).

    6.4 Review and Practice
    Power Wrap-Up
    Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand why and how people buy in B2C

    and B2B situations.

    • You can describe the types of customers and why this information is important in determining

    customers’ needs.

    • You can discuss the implications of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for selling.

    • You can learn the types of buyers and buying situations in a B2B environment.

    • You can list the steps in the buying process and describe how and why the process is evolving.

    • You can understand the role of emotions in the buying decision.

    • You can learn how to use FAB for effective selling.

    • You can understand how to develop your personal FAB message.

    • You can learn how to make your FAB message memorable in an interview.
    T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

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    1. Describe the three types of B2B customers and what makes them different.

    2. Name at least three differences between a B2C and a B2B purchase.

    3. Describe two products or services a B2B purchaser would buy to meet esteem needs.

    4. True or false: B2B buying decisions are rational.

    5. True or false: The initiator in a B2B buying situation is also the decision maker.

    6. Describe the first step in the buying process.

    7. What is an RFP, and at which stage in the buying process is it used?

    8. Describe FAB and how it is used in the selling process.
    P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

    Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Following are two roles that are involved in the

    same selling situation—one role is the customer, and the other is the salesperson. This will give you the

    opportunity to think about this selling situation from the point of view of both the customer and the


    Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

    in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-

    play in groups or individually.

    The Best Way to Reach Boomers

    Role: Director of marketing at Shooz Athletic Shoe Company

    Sales have been far less than expected as a result of the economy. Shooz brand athletic shoes are targeted

    to baby boomers; they are flexible and comfortable, yet look cool. They are priced higher than the

    competition, and it seems to have been suffering at the hands of the promotional efforts of competitors.

    But the marketing strategy of Shooz is to continue to focus on its niche and be higher priced, despite the

    sinking economy.

    You have a limited advertising budget that has been devoted primarily to television advertising. You are in

    the process of reviewing the numbers before your next meeting.

    • Should you be open to new options and ways to increase your business?

    • What role could a salesperson play in helping you think about different advertising options?

    Role: Internet advertising salesperson

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    You are a salesperson for an advertising company named Online Marketing Concepts. You sell banner ads,

    e-mail, and social networking advertising for several online networks. Despite the growth of Internet

    advertising in the past several years, online advertising sales have been down due to the economy, which

    has had an impact on your paycheck. You would really like to get the Shooz account to buy some Internet

    advertising. You’ve done your homework, and you think that online advertising could really help the Shooz

    business. You haven’t found any ads online for Shooz, and you have a great idea for an interactive

    advertising campaign targeted to baby boomers. Now, you’re confident that if you get in front of the right

    person, you can see your idea and help Shooz grow its business.

    • What step in the buying process is the director of marketing currently in?

    • How might you prepare for this sales call based on what you know?

    • How will emotions come into play in the purchase of advertising for Shooz?
    P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

    1. Ask a professor, mentor, or other professional to share her portfolio with you. Ask her how she gathered

    examples of her work that she shows to prospective customers or employers. Ask for feedback on your


    2. Create an online portfolio including your résumé, samples of your work, letters of recommendation,

    awards, and other proof of your skills. Review Web sites such

    as and Don’t forget to include your URL on your

    résumé in the contact information area.

    3. Create a blog to demonstrate your skills. Review Web sites such

    as and as possible hosts for your blog. Choose a

    topic that you are passionate about (sports, music, movies, fashion, or whatever moves you). Follow the

    directions to personalize your blog and start writing. Remember to make regular and frequent posts;

    there’s nothing less professional than an out-of-date blog. Keep it professional. Promote your blog on

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other professional networking Web sites.

    T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E A N S W E R S

    1. Producers are companies or organizations that buy parts or ingredients to make a product or service.

    Resellers are companies or organizations that buy finished products or services to sell them to other

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    companies or consumers. Organizations are government or nonprofit groups that buy products or

    services for consumption or to be sold to companies or consumers.

    2. Size of purchases, multiple buyers, number of customers, and geographic concentration.

    3. A building that bears the company name; doing business with only those companies that have the best

    reputations, such as McKinsey & Company; hiring only people who have an Ivy League education.

    4. False. B2B decisions are dominated by emotions, especially trust and fear.

    5. False. Although the initiator may be the decision maker, that is not always the case, especially in complex

    B2B buying decisions.

    6. Need recognition includes the realization that there is a need for the product or service. The need might

    be identified by a user or anyone else inside the organization or by a customer.

    7. The request for proposal is part of step four: searching for appropriate suppliers.

    8. Feature, advantage, benefit is used in B2B and B2C selling and is used to appeal to a customer’s emotions

    as in “what will this product or service do for me?”

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    Chapter 7
    Prospecting and Qualifying: The Power to Identify Your


    You met Lisa Peskin in Chapter 1 “The Power to Get What You Want in Life”. She has over twenty years

    of experience in sales and sales training at companies such as Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP),

    Commercial Direct, and Interbay Funding. Lisa is now a sales trainer and works with companies to

    help increase their sales. She understands the importance of always identifying potential new

    customers. Without new customers, businesses would ultimately die. Great salespeople are constantly

    looking for new prospective customers everywhere.

    7.1 It’s a Process: Seven Steps to Successful Selling
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Explain the role of the seven steps of the selling process.

    You may have been surprised if someone told you that movie scripts, regardless of the genre, all

    follow the same basic formula—the same sequence of events—almost down to the minute: after three

    minutes, the central question of the movie is introduced; after twenty-seven more minutes, the main

    character will set off on a new path; fifteen minutes more, and something symbolic will happen; and

    so on. [1] It’s hard to believe that The Fast and the Furious would follow the same formula as The

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    Notebook, but once you know what to look for, you’ll see that the structure holds up. Clearly,

    Hollywood has come to learn that this particular structure is the secret to keeping the audience’s

    attention, earning positive reviews, and selling movies.

    In the same way, almost all selling—regardless of the product that’s being sold—follows a particular

    sequence of steps. It’s a simple but logical framework that has been the accepted model for almost a

    hundred years. [2] Salespeople have adapted the specifics of the process as culture and technology

    have changed, but the fact that they’ve followed the same basic model has for so long testifies to its

    effectiveness. The selling process is generally divided into seven steps that, once you understand

    them, will empower you to sell virtually anything you want and satisfy your customers:

    1. Prospect and qualify

    2. Preapproach

    3. Approach

    4. Presentation

    5. Overcome objections

    6. Close the sale

    7. Follow-up

    Each step of the seven-step process is covered thoroughly in this and the next six chapters so that

    you can learn the details of each step and how to apply them in various selling situations.

    Figure 7.1 Seven-Step Selling Process [3]

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    When the Seven-Step Selling Process Is Used

    As you learned in Chapter 3 “The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work”, the

    sales process is adaptive, which means that each situation may be different and salespeople have to adapt

    and understand what is important to each customer and where each is in the buying process. But in order

    for a salesperson to use adaptive selling, he or she must thoroughly understand the steps in the selling

    process and how each works to can use them effectively.

    The Evolving Role of Technology in the Selling Process

    While the basics of the selling process have remained the same over the years, the methods of

    communication and the way people interact are quickly evolving with the use of the interactive

    capabilities on the Internet by customers and salespeople alike. Each step now includes much more

    collaboration between customers and salespeople (and even between customers) with the use of social

    networking, consumer reviews, wikis, and other community-based tools. This technology allows

    salespeople to learn more about their customers at each step, and therefore provide more relevant and

    powerful solutions to customers at each stage of the buying process (covered in Chapter 6 “Why and How

    People Buy: The Power of Understanding the Customer”). [4]

    Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Sales

    Let’s say you want to buy a gym membership. Maybe you received a promotional offer in the mail, your

    friends on Facebook have had good things to say about a particular gym, or you picked this club because

    it’s close to home. Whatever the reason, you wander in and ask to speak to the membership director who

    seems to know a lot about the club and what you might be looking for. After some small talk about the fact

    that you both live in the same apartment complex, he tells you about the gym’s amenities and gives you a

    tour of the facility. Then, you sit down to discuss pricing options and payment plans. If you have any

    questions or concerns (i.e., “I noticed there are only three tennis courts. Is there usually a long wait to use

    one?” or “Why aren’t there any kickboxing classes on your class schedule?”), the membership director will

    attempt to address those. Maybe he will tell you there is occasionally a wait to use the tennis courts at

    peak times, but you can reserve a spot up to a week in advance, in which case you can get right in. Or

    maybe he’ll say that while they don’t have kickboxing classes, they offer Zumba, which is a fun aerobic


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    If you’re satisfied with his responses, and the price and product meet your needs, you will probably decide

    to sign a contract. Once you’ve signed, someone from the club will probably follow up with a call in a few

    weeks to see if you’re satisfied with your experience at their gym, or you may get an e-mail from them with

    a membership satisfaction survey or a text message about an upcoming event.

    The example above is an actual selling situation. Although you may not have realized it while you were

    reading it, the situation follows the seven-step selling process.

    Whether you’re buying a gym membership or a car, cell phone service or a new computer, the situation

    may be different, but the steps in the selling process will follow the same pattern.

    Business-to-Business (B2B) Sales

    The process isn’t only limited to business-to-consumer sales; it’s also the process that IBM will use to sell

    servers to a corporation, that Accenture will use to sell consulting services to a technology company, or

    that the Coffee Brewers Company will use to sell espresso machines to coffee shops. Imagine you run a

    chic new restaurant. You get a call from a salesperson who compliments you on the roasted chicken she

    had at your restaurant last weekend. After some conversation, she asks if you’re satisfied with your

    commercial ovens. You have been having some problems with them and have been doing some casual

    research online. You know that her company is rated as one of the best oven manufacturers, so you tell

    her: the ovens are over ten years old, they take a long time to heat up, and they sometimes cook things


    “Many older ovens have this problem,” she says. “Would you be interested in learning about the state-of-

    the-art commercial ovens our company sells?”

    Since you need a solution for your current ovens, you agree to set up an appointment with the

    salesperson. When the she arrives, you are impressed that she knows so much about your business. She

    visited your restaurant, reviewed your menu, spoke with some of the wait staff, read reviews on the city

    magazine Web site, and even had some conversations with some of your patrons on Chef’s Blog. She

    explains that the ovens she sells heat up quickly and use energy more efficiently. She gives you an

    estimate of your annual savings on energy costs if you switched over to her product line.

    You’re interested, but you’re concerned that the ovens might not cook food evenly. Ovens are a big

    expense—what happens if you aren’t satisfied with the product? The salesperson says you can lease an

    oven for a trial period at no obligation, and she shows you reviews from other customers on her

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    company’s Web site and on some restaurant industry blogs. You feel like this might help you solve your

    problem, so you agree to lease the machine for four months.

    After two months, the salesperson calls to ask if you’ve been satisfied with the product so far, and she

    offers you a discount if you sign a contract to purchase two ovens in the next ten days. Since you have

    been happy with the leased oven and checked out the company’s service record online from other current

    customers, you make the purchase.

    As in the gym membership example above, this B2B selling situation follows the seven-step framework.

    Now, take a minute to review this selling situation in the box below to see exactly how the steps are


    The Seven Steps of Selling

    Compare the B2B and B2C examples you just read about. Do you notice a pattern? Although the products

    and customers were quite different, both salespeople adapted to the situation and the customer’s needs,

    but followed the same seven steps to successfully complete their sales. In fact, you’ve probably used a

    version of these seven steps yourself before without even realizing it. Take a look at some real-world

    selling examples below and how of each of the steps is used.

    Step 1: Prospecting and Qualifying

    Before planning a sale, a salesperson conducts research to identify the people or companies that might be

    interested in her product. In the B2B example, before the salesperson called the company, she had to find

    the company’s information somewhere—probably in a local business directory. This step is called

    prospecting, and it’s the foundational step for the rest of the sales process. A lead is a potential buyer.

    A prospect is a lead that is qualified or determined to be ready, willing, and able to buy. The prospecting

    and qualifying step relates to the needs awareness step in the buying process described in Chapter 6 “Why

    and How People Buy: The Power of Understanding the Customer”. In other words, in a perfect world, you

    are identifying customers who are in the process of or have already identified a need.

    Undoubtedly, when the salesperson called the target customer to discuss his ovens (in the example, you

    were the customer), she asked some questions to qualify him as a prospect, or determine whether he has

    the desire and ability to buy the product or service. This is the other component to step one. What

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    happens if the customer is not interested in the salesperson’s product, or he’s interested but his business

    is struggling financially and doesn’t have the resources for a big purchase? Perhaps he is only an

    employee, not the manager, and he doesn’t have the authority to make the purchasing decision. In this

    case, he is no longer a prospect, and the salesperson will move on to another lead. Salespeople qualify

    their prospects so they can focus their sales efforts on the people who are most likely to buy. After all,

    spending an hour discussing the capabilities of your company’s ovens with a lead that is about to go out of

    business would be a waste of time. It’s much more fruitful to invest your time with a qualified prospect,

    one who has the desire or ability to buy the product or service.

    Step 2: Preapproach

    The preapproach is the “doing your homework” part of the process. A good salesperson researches his

    prospect, familiarizing himself with the customer’s needs and learning all the relevant background info he

    can about the individual or business. [5] Remember that in the B2B example, the salesperson knew

    important information about the restaurant beforehand. She came prepared with a specific idea as to how

    her service could help the prospect and gave a tailored presentation.

    Step 3: Approach

    First impressions (e.g., the first few minutes of a sales call) are crucial to building the client’s trust. [6] If

    you’ve ever asked someone on a first date (yes, this is a selling situation), chances are you didn’t call the

    person and start the conversation off with the question, “Hey, do you want to go out on Saturday night?”

    Such an abrupt method would turn most people away, and you probably would not score the date you

    were hoping for. Similarly, as a professional salesperson, you would almost never make a pitch right away;

    instead, you’d work to establish a rapport with the customer first. This usually involves introductions,

    making some small talk, asking a few warm-up questions, and generally explaining who you are and

    whom you represent. [7], [8] This is called the approach.

    Step 4: Presentation

    There’s a good deal of preparation involved before a salesperson ever makes her pitch or presentation, but

    the presentation is where the research pays off and her idea for the prospect comes alive. By the time she

    presents her product, she will understand her customer’s needs well enough to be sure she’s offering a

    solution the customer could use. If you’re a real estate agent selling a house and your customers are an

    older, retired couple, you won’t take them to see a house with many bedrooms, several flights of stairs to

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    climb, and a huge yard to keep up—nor will you show them around a trendy loft in a busy part of town.

    The presentation should be tailored to the customer, explaining how the product meets that person or

    company’s needs. It might involve a tour (as in this real estate example), a product demonstration, videos,

    PowerPoint presentations, or letting the customer actually look at or interact with the product. At this

    point, the customer is using the information that is being shared as part of his evaluation of possible


    Step 5: Handling Objections

    After you’ve made your sales presentation, it’s natural for your customer to have some hesitations or

    concerns called objections. Good salespeople look at objections as opportunities to further understand

    and respond to customers’ needs. [9] For instance, maybe you’re trying to convince a friend to come

    camping with you.

    “I’d like to go” your friend says, “but I’ve got a big project I need to finish at work, and I was planning to

    spend some time at the office this weekend.”

    “That’s no problem,” you tell him. “I’m free next weekend, too. Why don’t we plan to go then, once your

    project’s out of the way?”

    Step 6: Closing the Sale

    Eventually, if your customer is convinced your product will meet her needs, you close by agreeing on the

    terms of the sale and finishing up the transaction.[10] This is the point where the potential gym member

    signs her membership agreement, the restaurant owner decides to purchase the ovens, or your friend

    says, “Sure, let’s go camping next weekend!” Sometimes a salesperson has to make

    several trial closes during a sales call, addressing further objections before the customer is ready to

    buy. [11] It may turn out, even at this stage in the process, that the product doesn’t actually meet the

    customer’s needs. The important—and sometimes challenging—part of closing is that the seller has to

    actually ask if the potential customer is willing to make the purchase. [12] When the close is successful, this

    step clearly aligns with the purchase step in the buying process.

    Step 7: Following Up

    OK, so you’ve completed a landscaping job for your customer or sold him a car or installed the software

    that meets his needs. While it might seem like you’ve accomplished your goal, the customer relationship

    has only begun. The follow-up is an important part of assuring customer satisfaction, retaining customers,

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    and prospecting for new customers. This might mean sending a thank-you note, calling the customer to

    make sure a product was received in satisfactory condition, or checking in to make sure a service is

    meeting the customer’s expectations. This is the follow-up e-mail you get from Netflix every time you

    return a movie by mail. It’s Amazon’s invitation to “rate your transaction” after you receive your Amazon

    order. Follow-up also includes logistical details like signing contracts, setting up delivery or installation

    dates, and drawing up a timeline. From the buyer’s perspective, the follow-up is the implementation step

    in the buying process. Good follow-up helps ensure additional sales, customer referrals, and positive

    reviews [13] and actually leads you back to the first step in the selling process because it provides the

    opportunity to learn about new needs for this customer or new customers through referrals.
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • The seven-step selling process refers to the sequence of steps salespeople follow each time they make a

    sale. The process gives you the power to successfully sell almost anything.

    • The first step of the selling process, prospecting and qualifying, involves searching for potential

    customers and deciding whether they have the ability and desire to make a purchase. The people and

    organizations that meet these criteria are qualified prospects.

    • Before making a sales call, it is important to “do your homework” by researching your customer and

    planning what you are going to say; this is the preapproach.

    • The approach is your chance to make a first impression by introducing yourself, explaining the purpose of

    your call or visit, and establishing a rapport with your prospect.

    • Your research and preparation pays off during the presentation, when you propose your sales solution to

    your prospect.

    • Your prospect will naturally have objections, which you should look at as opportunities to better

    understand and respond to his or her needs.

    • Once you overcome objections, you close the sale by agreeing on the terms and finalizing the transaction.

    • The sales process doesn’t end with the close; follow-up (i.e., ensuring customer satisfaction and working

    out the logistics of delivery, installation, and timelines) is essential to retaining existing customers and

    finding new ones.

    E X E R C I S E S

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    1. Think of a personal interaction in which you sold someone on an idea (e.g., a vacation, a choice of movies,

    or a date). Explain how the seven steps applied to this particular situation.

    2. Consider the last major purchase you made. Did the salesperson use the seven steps? In what ways could

    he or she have done a better job? What eventually sold you on the product?

    3. Imagine you are trying to sell season tickets to your local ballpark. After you present the product to your

    prospects, a middle-aged married couple, they tell you they are very interested but are concerned they

    might be out of town on some of the weekends when there are home games, and they don’t want their

    tickets to go to waste. What solutions could you offer to overcome their objections?

    4. Discuss the difference between a prospect and a customer.

    5. [1] Viki King, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days (New York: Quill Harper Resource, 2001), 34–37.

    6. [2] William C. Moncreif and Greg W. Marshall, “The Evolution of the Seven Steps of Selling,” Industrial

    Market Management 34, no. 1 (2005): 13–22.

    7. [4] Selling Power Sales 2.0 Newsletter, Selling Power, September 18,

    2008, (accessed June 21, 2010).

    8. [5] Geoffrey James, “6 Things to Know about Every Prospect,” BNET, January 12,

    2009, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    9. [6] Michael T. Bosworth, Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets (New York: McGraw-

    Hill, 1995), 106.

    10. [7] Paul Cherry, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process of Discovering What Your Customer Really

    Wants (New York: AMACOM, 2006), 21.

    11. [8] Neil Rackham, The SPIN Selling Fieldbook (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996), 40.

    12. [9] William C. Moncreif and Greg W. Marshall, “The Evolution of the Seven Steps,”Industrial Marketing

    Management 34, no. 1 (2005): 14, 15.

    13. [10] Thomas A. Freese, Secrets of Question Based Selling (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2003), 166.

    14. [11] Dave Dolak, “Sales and Personal Selling,” June 10,


    15. [12] William C. Moncreif and Greg W. Marshall, “The Evolution of the Seven Steps,”Industrial Marketing

    Management 34, no. 1 (2005): 14, 15.

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    16. [13] Dave Dolak, “Sales and Personal Selling,” June 10,


    7.2 Prospecting: A Vital Role in the Selling Process
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Understand the role prospecting plays in the selling process.

    Imagine you decide to build a house from the ground up. After designing your ideal house, of course

    it would be nice if you could snap your fingers and get to the fun part: watching the finishing touches

    come together. But before the walls go up you have to make detailed plans and measurements, find

    your materials and negotiate with contractors, and lay the foundation. All these things require

    patience, time, and effort, but these steps are absolutely necessary for the project to move forward.

    Planning and laying a foundation is a little like prospecting and qualifying. Finding leads (or people

    who might be prospects) is the most vital part of the selling process—you can’t make a sale without

    identifying the people to whom you’ll be selling. [1]In other words, without prospecting, nothing else

    can happen. Yet, unlike laying a foundation, prospecting doesn’t happen just once; it’s a constant

    process. Businesses lose some customers every year for a variety of reasons: customers may no

    longer need the product or service, have the financial means to purchase the product or service, or

    live or do business in the area, or the business may no longer be open. So if you haven’t been building

    your prospect list, you won’t have new customers to replace the ones you lose. More than this,

    finding new prospects is the only way you can increase your sales and expand your business.

    The Value of a Lead

    Think of the last time you went to the store to make a major purchase and you started by browsing the

    products. A salesperson probably approached you with the standard “Can I help you?” and you may have

    responded with the equally standard “No, thanks. I’m just looking.” Chances are good that the salesperson

    left you alone after that, very likely assuming you weren’t genuinely interested in making a purchase. Most

    people—salespeople and customers alike—are surprised to learn that over two-thirds of shoppers who give

    the “just looking” response end up purchasing the product within a week. [2] In other words, these

    customers are valuable leads, and all too often their business goes to a competitor.

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    Let’s say you are planning to buy a new refrigerator. That’s generally not the kind of purchase you make

    on the spot; you will probably go to a number of stores to compare products and prices first. If you tell the

    salesperson at the second store that you’re just looking, you may then go to a third store and decide you’re

    ready to buy. As a customer, if the vendors seem more or less equal, you will base your purchasing

    decision on price, product features, convenience, or a combination of these things. But imagine the

    salesperson at the second store who took the time to determine your specific needs, wrote down your

    contact information, and followed up with you. It’s very likely she would make a sale. Her products might

    be quite similar to her competitors’, but if she goes out of her way to provide you with a solution, you have

    a reason to buy from her over someone else.

    Now let’s change hats. What does knowing this information mean for you as a salesperson? Most

    importantly, it means that you should never write off a lead until you are certain he can’t be qualified as a

    prospect. If you work in a showroom that sells only high-end cars like Lexus or BMW and a potential

    customer walks in wearing torn jeans and a T-shirt, you might be tempted to mentally disqualify him,

    assuming he won’t have the money to buy such expensive cars. But appearances are often misleading, and

    you won’t know whether or not your lead is actually qualified until you ask some specific, qualifying

    questions. When you realize that a lead is the only thing you can turn into a sale, you also realize just how

    valuable every lead is.

    This is true for both B2C and B2B sales, wherein 30 percent to 50 percent of companies that see and

    respond to business-specific ads end up purchasing the product or service about which they’ve inquired

    within one or two years. This percentage is nothing to sneeze at. Yet, according to businesses, only about 1

    percent to 5 percent of the ad-related inquiries they get from businesses translate into sales. [3] That’s a big

    gap. In other words, a lot of valuable leads can slip through your fingers if you don’t follow up and qualify


    The Sales Funnel

    If you talked to a guidance counselor when you were applying to colleges, he probably told you to consider

    several and then apply to a number of schools (more than just two or three) even though you would only

    end up choosing one school in the end. This is because not all the schools that you apply to end up being a

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    good fit. Sometimes you aren’t accepted, sometimes you are accepted but don’t get an ideal financial

    package, and sometimes as you learn more about a school you decide it isn’t the right one for you.

    Whatever the reason, you start out by considering many schools and generally end up deciding between a


    The same can be said of the selling process. In fact, the process is often compared to a funnel. You start

    out with many leads, and after gathering more information, you come up with a smaller list of qualified

    prospects. As you communicate with these potential customers and work toward a solution, some will

    turn out to be more likely to buy than others. It’s common sense to assume that you will have more leads

    than you have buyers since not all leads turn into customers. The concept of the sales funnel is a helpful

    way to visualize the process of finding and qualifying your customers and effectively illustrates the value

    of identifying a large pool of potential prospects. If you don’t bother to find more than a handful of leads,

    you limit your chances of ever closing a sale no matter how much effort you put into your sales

    presentation. It’s a common temptation that most people want the results without having to put in the

    foundational work of finding and contacting prospects.

    Figure 7.4 Traditional Sales Funnel

    But wait a minute, you might think, “Isn’t it hugely inefficient to spend time and effort communicating

    with so many prospects with the expectation that only a handful of those will turn out to be buyers?” This

    is also true, which is why qualifying and prioritizing your prospects is such an important part of the sales

    process. Technological tools like collaborative communities and other online resources can help you

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    identify, qualify, and prioritize prospects. But you might wonder how do you decide which prospects you

    should invest your time in pursuing. To begin with, you should create a profile of your ideal buyer. [4]

    Create a Profile of Your Ideal Buyer
    • What particular qualities and characteristics will define this individual or company?

    • What specific problems would this buyer have that your product could solve?

    • In what ways should the buyer be compatible with you or your organization?

    For instance, if your company sells expensive, high-quality kitchen utensils, the average college

    student won’t fit your ideal profile. While a young adult living away from home for the first time might

    have something in common with your ideal customer, the college student likely won’t have the budget or

    desire to go out and get the top-of-the-line products.

    Your ideal customer profile will help you prioritize and target your efforts because it provides a model

    against which you can measure your leads to determine whether a potential customer is worth pursuing.

    If you focus your energy on prospecting and qualifying, which is learning more about your target

    prospects, you will save valuable time and resources, which you can then devote to giving your customers

    a more satisfying experience. Effective prospecting and qualifying empower you to invest in the

    opportunities that count. [5]

    Now that you understand the concept of prospecting and why it’s important, you’ll find the next sections

    helpful as they will provide you with tools to help you find prospects and qualify prospects.
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • Prospecting is the most vital part of the selling process. Without prospects, you won’t be able to make

    sales, and without constantly searching for new prospects, you won’t be able to replace the customers

    you lose and grow your business.

    • A lead, or prospect, is the only thing you can turn into a sale, so it’s important to follow up with your

    leads. Don’t write someone off without legitimately qualifying him.

    • The concept of the sales funnel illustrates the value of generating a large pool of leads because many of

    your prospects won’t qualify or will drop out during the selling process.

    • You should begin searching for leads by building an ideal customer profile to help you target your search


    E X E R C I S E S

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    1. Describe the ideal customer for the following products or services:

    o iPod Touch

    o Ferrari sports car

    o GEICO car insurance

    2. Discuss the sales funnel and why leads are important to the selling process.

    3. Discuss the difference between a prospect and a customer.

    4. If someone goes into a Best Buy store and looks at the home theater systems, is he a lead or a prospect?


    5. Visit a local jeweler and shop for a watch. What questions does the salesperson ask to qualify you as a


    6. [1] Charles M. Futrell, The ABC’s of Relationship Selling, 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2005).

    7. [2] Channel Intelligence, “2004 Channel Intelligence Consumer Buying Intent Survey Reveals Online



    &companyId=1123580114932 (accessed June 10, 2009).

    8. [3] John Coe, The Fundamentals of Business-to-Business Sales (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), 125.

    9. [4] Ron Hubsher, interview by Gerhard Gschwandtner, Daily Report, Sales Optimization Group, Selling

    Power, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    10. [5] Ron Hubsher, “Turning the Sales Funnel Upside Down,” interview by Michelle Nichols, Savvy Selling,

    podcast audio program, BusinessWeek, July 13,

    2007, (

    accessed June 9, 2009).

    7.3 Go Fish: Resources to Help You Find Your Prospects
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Identify resources to use when prospecting.

    In the last section, you read that prospecting can be compared to setting up the plans and laying the

    foundation for a building project. You could also say that prospecting is a little like going to class or

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    making your bed—you’ve got to do it, and you know that it won’t be long before you’re doing it again

    (assuming you make your bed regularly!). Because prospecting is one of those jobs that’s never truly

    finished, it’s helpful to draw on a number of sources and be creative about the places where you find

    your leads.

    Where to Find Prospects

    Knowing your ideal customer and where he or she is likely to go for information will allow you to choose

    the best prospecting sources for your business. It helps to be your customer. Imagine yourself in your

    prospect’s shoes and think about where you would go for information. For instance, if you are a

    photographer who specializes in professional yearbook and graduation pictures, you might want to set up

    a Facebook account so you can let students in local schools know about your services. [1] Meanwhile, if

    you’re in B2B sales and your ideal prospects are car dealerships in northern California, you might build up

    your professional network by joining the local branch of the National Auto Dealers Association or by

    joining some community organizations in your city.

    Prospecting takes knowledge and creativity, so start your prospecting and qualifying with the top ten

    power prospecting list below. No matter what business you’re in, think of this section as your GPS for

    finding the leads that will fuel your business growth.

    Top Ten Power Prospecting List
    1. Existing customers

    2. Referrals

    3. Networking and social networking

    4. Business directories in print

    5. Online databases and directories

    6. Newspapers, trade publications, and business journals

    7. Trade shows and events

    8. Advertising and direct mail

    9. Cold calling

    10. Being a subject matter expert

    Power Prospecting Source #1: Existing Customers

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    It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing customer. [2] So it stands to

    reason that your best new customers are your existing customers. Salespeople who make an effort to

    deliver excellent customer service during and after a sale know the secret that some of their best prospects

    are the customers they already have. To keep and develop your existing customers, love them, service

    them, be partners with them, live and breathe in their world, understand them, and anticipate their needs,

    and you will succeed in sales.

    One of the keys to retaining your best customers is to keep in touch with your customers’ needs and

    update your solutions as their needs change. Say you work for a marketing company that offers a variety

    of services to businesses. One of your customers, a record company, is using your printing services, but

    they’re turning to another organization for their public relations needs. If you’re aware of this, your

    existing customer is now a prospect for additional sales. You might tell the record company, “You know,

    your current PR people are setting up events and concerts to increase your publicity, and that seems to be

    working only moderately well. If we were running your PR, we would integrate your events with a variety

    of other media. For instance, we think a blog would be a hugely effective tool.…” If the company is already

    a loyal customer and you let them know that you are aware of their needs and can offer a better solution,

    then you may very well make a new sale.

    Power Prospecting Source #2: Referrals

    There’s nothing more powerful than getting information about a product or service from a friend or

    people you trust before you buy. Think about the last time you bought a printer. You probably checked out

    the customer reviews on Amazon, asked your friends, checked out some blogs, and maybe even got some

    insights on Twitter (in 140 characters or less). Before you bought the Hewlett-Packard (HP) OfficeJet

    6310, you knew exactly what to expect from people who have bought and used the product, and you

    learned that if you buy it at Office Depot, you get free shipping and two free ink cartridges. Although you

    never shopped at Office Depot before, you were sold before you even clicked “buy now” on the Office

    Depot’s Web site. Imagine that you didn’t even come in contact with HP or Office Depot. You made your

    purchase based solely on the information from others. The power of the referral cannot be


    Referrals and word-of-mouth advertising have always been one of the most effective—and cost-efficient—

    ways to get new customers. It used to be that the circle of referrals was limited to people who used your

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    product or service in a given geographic area. The Internet has amplified that network, especially with

    user-generated content such as communities, blogs, customer ratings and reviews, and social networking

    sites. So as a salesperson, you have to think creatively about all of resources you have to generate referrals.

    Seth Godin, best-selling author and entrepreneur, talks about “flipping the funnel.” He challenges

    salespeople to think about turning the sales funnel on its side, thinking of it as a megaphone, and then

    handing the megaphone to those who already love you. He suggests that when many of your customers

    enter into the conversation on Web sites such as Digg, Flickr, and Delicious, the power of your message

    gets even stronger, and new referrals find you. [3]

    Want to see how it works? When Naked Pizza, a small takeout and delivery operation in New Orleans,

    decided they wanted to compete with the city’s chain pizza places, they turned to their existing customer

    base for sales prospects by putting their Twitter address on every pizza box that went out the door. As Jeff,

    Randy, and Brock, the company’s founders put it, “Even your most core customers must be continually

    and softly nudged.” [4] The prospecting effort has been a huge success with their existing customers

    posting tweets that have introduced the brand to new customers. The Twitter-enabled follow-ups allowed

    Naked Pizza to continue the conversation and ensure that a greater number of first-time buyers become

    repeat customers—and that they spread the word to more new customers. Talk about a megaphone!

    Whether you sell pizza or insurance, if your existing customers are happy, they’re usually happy to refer

    you to their friends, online or offline. Consider Flycaster & Company, a Florida-based branding and

    advertising agency for businesses. For a number of years now, almost 100 percent of the firm’s new

    customers have been referred to them by friends and colleagues. According to John Spence, one of the

    company’s managers, referrals are the “best possible” source of prospects for any B2B business. [5]

    So let your customers speak for you. Their voices will be heard by people you could never reach.

    Power Prospecting Source #3: Networking and Social Networking

    Networking works.

    The art of networking, developing mutually beneficial relationships, can be a valuable prospecting tool,

    not only for retaining old prospects, but also for connecting with new ones. The larger and more diverse

    your network becomes, the bigger your pool of potential prospects. Your networking connections often

    become sources of referrals for your business, just as you will become a referral source for theirs.

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    If you’re a member of the American Chemical Society and you work for a chemical supply company, you

    might use your membership to get acquainted with chemists who work at a variety of labs. You could offer

    them your card and let them know that you provide supply discounts for fellow Chemical Society

    members. Now these prospects will be more likely to buy their chemical supplies from you than from a

    company or individual with whom they have no personal connection. If one of your customers needs a

    chemist with a particular specialty, you, in turn, will be able to refer him to someone in your network.

    Joining a professional trade association is one simple way to network with others in your field, or with

    prospects in your target industry.

    If your business is location specific, joining community organizations can also be a valuable tool for

    connecting with local business leaders and prospects. Consider service organizations (like the Rotary

    Club), fraternity organizations, and other affinity groups that will allow you to build relationships with

    members of the community.

    What about social networking? You’re probably well acquainted with online social networking sites like

    Facebook or MySpace, but you may be less familiar with the ways people leverage these tools in a

    professional capacity. According to professional networking expert Clara Shih, online social networks can

    be an effective means of prospecting for sales with organizations. After all, the decision makers at any

    organization are individuals with whom you can build relationships (remember, you learned in that even

    though it’s called business-to-business, buying decisions are made person-to-person, so relationships

    matter). [6] By connecting socially with key individuals, not only can you open lines of communications

    with potential customers, but you can also build your knowledge of your prospect base.

    Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are increasingly important as well. (In fact, the Selling

    U section of this chapter includes information about how you can use professional social networking sites

    to help you network to find a job.) And there are many industry-specific networking sites you can join, like

    Sermo for doctors or for people in the wireless industry. [7] Your profile on professional

    networking sites becomes a tool for selling yourself as a brand. These sites allow you to list your

    education, professional experience, and testimonials from satisfied customers, and as you add contacts,

    you become connected to their contacts, allowing your network to grow. [8]
    This article includes examples of how some major companies are using Twitter to drive sales.

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    Power Prospecting Source #4: Business Directories in Print

    Figure 7.5

    American City Business Journals publish the Book of Lists in cities across the country. The book includes lists of

    local companies by category including fastest-growing privately held companies, women-owned companies,

    nonprofit organizations, and more. The book is also available online at

    Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, used with permission.

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    Forget Google for a minute. It might surprise you to know that your local library can actually be a

    potential goldmine for finding prospects in B2B sales. If you spend even twenty minutes with a

    knowledgeable librarian, he can point you to business lists, journals, and business directories that will

    help you generate a pool of leads to contact. Your ideal customer profile is an important guiding tool here.

    If you want customer information that’s location specific, check out your local chamber of

    commerce listing. It’s one of the best sources for finding local businesses. If the listing is not at the local

    library, chances are the librarian will have the contact information for the chamber office.

    You can also review business lists and directories published by local newspapers and regional business

    journals. Local newspapers and their Web sites often provide listings of local businesses along with key

    information about the company. Also, the Book of Lists is published locally by the American City Business

    Journals in several cities—for example, the Philadelphia Business Journal publishes the Book of Lists for

    the Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware area. It is a book that includes lists of companies organized

    by groupings. For instance, the fastest-growing companies, minority-owned businesses, and lists of

    companies by industry such as video production companies, health care companies, public relations

    agencies, law firms, and more are included with the contact information, profiles, and key facts for

    specific businesses in your state or city. You can generally find these books at your local library, and

    they’re an excellent source for digging up prospects that most closely match your ideal profile. Business

    lists are also published by other business journals such as Crain’s in some key cities or are available online

    (also see Power Prospecting Source #6: Trade Journals and Business Journals below).

    If you want to search businesses by industry, ask a reference librarian to help you look up the

    North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and the

    Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code that most closely matches your ideal prospect’s business—or

    access the indexes online, and bring the codes with you to the library. NAICS and SIC codes are

    numbering systems that classify businesses by their particular industry, so they can be valuable search

    criteria to mine general business directories (e.g., Ward’s Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public

    Companies) for specific kinds of companies. For example, you could use the SIC code 6371 to find all

    businesses that deal with pension, health, and welfare funds. [9] You can also search through industry-

    specific directories like the Standard Directory of Advertisers, and you can check out

    professional trade associations related to your prospect profile. These organizations, whose members all

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    operate in a particular industry, are especially good places to look if your ideal prospect is a smaller

    business because smaller businesses and individuals are the most likely to join. Ask your librarian if she

    can access a copy of Gale’s Encyclopedia of Associations, which lists more than 160,000 trade

    organizations. Finding a relevant association should be no problem, as you can find a professional

    organization for virtually any industry you can think of. Even the pecan shellers of America have a

    professional association! [10]

    Power Prospecting Source #5: Online Databases and Directories

    Going to the library can be hugely helpful because it gives you access to people who are pros at finding

    information. Also, the added perk is that your library will probably give you free access to several online

    business directories and databases. [11] Of course you can search these directories from the comfort of your

    own home or office, but if you want the deluxe package—the most up-to-date directories that cover

    industries of all types nationwide—you’ll have to pay a price. Online business directories, such as those

    listed in the table below, are searchable by industry and will give you access to company contact info,

    number of employees, financial standing, industry rankings, names of executives, and other company

    profile information. Most of these directories allow you to search businesses by SIC or NAICS codes.

    So how do you know which business directory to use? For one thing, it helps to know whether your ideal

    prospect would be a private company or a public company or whether it could be either. Is your ideal

    prospect a large organization that attracts top executives? In this case, you’ll mostly be searching

    for public companies—companies that sell stocks and bonds to the general public. Public companies are

    required to file financial information and other company reports with the U.S. government, so these

    organizations are easier to find in general business directories, and their directory listings usually provide

    more detailed company information. [12] However, not all large companies are publicly owned. State Farm

    Insurance and Cargill Foods, for example, are both private companies. [13] If you’re only interested in

    smaller, local businesses, you will be dealing with private companies, or companies that aren’t owned by

    the public. In this case, some directories and databases will be more helpful to you than others.

    Another thing to consider is whether you want the option to refine your search to include a number of

    criteria closely matching your ideal prospect profile. Several online databases allow you to input multiple

    search terms like location, company size, and minimum and maximum sales volumes.

    Table 7.1 Online Databases and Directories for Prospecting

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    Database or Directory

    source for


    source for

    companies Description

    ✔ ✔

    • For B2B


    Allows you to

    search for

    businesses by

    criteria such

    as industry,

    SIC, sales

    volume, and

    number of



    useful for




    Their Web

    site offers

    a videowith


    on how to

    build a

    business list.

    • For B2C:


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    Database or Directory

    source for


    source for

    companies Description

    phone and e-

    mail contact

    lists for

    consumers by

    criteria like




    interest. See


    nal video for

    more detail.

    ✔ ✔

    • Allows

    researchers to




    based on a

    number of

    criteria, such

    as company




    trends, and

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    Database or Directory

    source for


    source for

    companies Description



    • Option for


    to automatic

    news alerts

    that will keep

    you up-to-

    date on your


    industries and



    ✔ ✔

    • Offers several


    that are

    searchable by


    • Allows you to

    subscribe to


    specific and


    specific e-mail


    • Option to

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    Database or Directory

    source for


    source for

    companies Description

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    Power Prospecting Source #6: Trade Publications and Business Journals

    Figure 7.6

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    Business journals such as the Philadelphia Business Journal can be an excellent source of leads.

    Business journals for various cities are available at

    Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, used with permission.

    Where could you go to learn that three bottled beverage companies have recently lightened their package

    designs, that a new biodegradable shrink film is now on the market, and that the Pharmaceutical

    Packaging Forum has chosen a location for its next event? These definitely aren’t top headlines on Yahoo!

    But to people in the packaging and packing materials industry, this is important news, and many of them

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    use Web sites like to stay updated. Trade publications, journals geared toward people who

    work in a certain industry, and trade Web sites are good sources for netting prospects. For instance, if you

    work for a company that designs food and beverage packaging, and your department specializes in bottle

    design, you might read an article on and find out that Pepsi has released a new, eco-

    friendly bottle design for its Aquafina product that uses 50 percent less plastic than the 2002

    version. [14] You decide to make a call to some managers at competing companies like Fiji. You tell these

    prospects that you’ve read about their competitor’s new bottle design and ask if they are interested in

    some packaging updates as well, which will help save on shipping costs and provide some good PR.

    Many industry trade journals offer free e-mail newsletters or even free copies of the magazine. If you don’t

    know the best trade journals to read in the industry in which you are interested, ask a professor. Your

    professor will be happy to show you copies of specific trade journals and the corresponding Web sites. It’s

    a good idea to take the time to sign up for the free updates and check to see if the publication offers a free

    subscription to the magazine.

    But what if your ideal prospects aren’t limited to a particular industry but are specific to a certain

    location? In this case, business journals, which are often regionally published and offer business news and

    industry information for particular cities or states, will be helpful. Your local library will undoubtedly have

    a subscription to one, or even several, business journals for your region. Additionally,

    links you to the Web sites for forty regional business journals.

    Power Prospecting Source #7: Trade Shows and Events

    If you’ve ever been to a trade show or expo, like a career fair or bridal show, you know they’re a good place

    to find out about products and services about which you might not otherwise be aware (and to get some

    fun free giveaways while you’re at it). While most people who stop by a given booth at an expo

    might not be seriously interested prospects, trade show displays and product demonstrations generate

    enough strong leads to make this activity a worthwhile prospecting endeavor. For one thing, trade shows

    are industry-specific events that have the advantage of bringing your target market to you. If you are a

    horse breeder and you know that an estimated ten thousand visitors will attend the Horse World Expo in

    Syracuse, New York, you might decide it’s worthwhile to go. [15] You could look into giving a presentation

    about judging horse pedigrees, for instance, or maybe you will pay to set up a booth with videos and

    photos of the horses you breed and sell.

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    As a salesperson, you can use trade shows not only to present and demonstrate your products but also to

    identify and qualify prospects. [16] Asking a few specific questions can help you assess a prospect’s needs

    and determine whether he has a genuine interest—as well as the resources—for buying. Trade show

    booths usually have a place for leads to enter their contact information so you can follow up with your

    prospects and save leads in your customer database. If you are a sales representative for a textbook

    company and you attend a faculty book fair at a large university, when professors stop by your booth, you

    might ask them which texts they are currently using and what they like or dislike about these books. This

    is a quick way to identify potential need. One professor might tell you she uses such-and-such a textbook,

    which is thorough, but her students don’t find it very engaging. Aha! You have identified a need, and you

    now have a prospect. You might tell the professor about a textbook that covers similar information but

    uses a more conversational style and ask if she would like you to send her a complimentary copy. If she

    says yes, you now have an opportunity to take her contact information, and you have permission to follow


    Power Prospecting Source #8: Advertising and Direct Marketing

    When you think of “junk mail,” you probably think about something you would normally throw in the

    trash. But have you ever received a direct-mail advertisement that you’ve actually considered, or even

    responded to? Maybe you’re a member of the American Library Association, and someone has sent you an

    e-mail about an upcoming library conference in a nearby city because you opted in, or gave permission to

    receive information from the company. Or maybe a local real estate agent has sent out fliers to the

    residential areas in your zip code and you just happen to be thinking of selling your house.

    As a sales professional, direct marketing, or communication in the form of direct mail or e-mail sent

    directly to your potential prospects, gives you the advantage of reaching a large pool of leads without

    having to invest the time to individually contact each one. Methods such as direct mail and e-mail allow

    your prospects to self-qualify since only the ones with genuine interest will follow up. On the flip side,

    direct mail yields a lower rate of return than most other methods: usually only about one to three

    percent. [17], [18] E-mail has similar response rates depending on the offer or communication. These

    methods can still be worth the investment, considering the relatively low inputs of time and money it

    takes to reach so many.

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    However, the time and money you do put into direct mailing or e-mail campaigns will be wasted if you

    send out your communications at random. There are three ways you can go about generating targeted

    mailing lists:

    1. Every major city has organizations that specialize in mailing list research, allowing you to order up-to-

    date address lists organized by zip code, income, age, interests, or other characteristics that matter to

    you. For as little as $25, you can get lists of up to a thousand prospects.

    2. Many of the business directories and databases you read about earlier in this section provide e-mail

    and postal mailing addresses for businesses and private households based on specific criteria.

    3. Professional salespeople also develop personal directories for their mailing lists. When you meet

    prospects, trade business cards with them. If these prospects pass your initial stages of qualification,

    you can add them to your personal list of mail recipients. [19]

    Power Prospecting Source #9: Cold Calling

    In the last ten years, Pat Cavanaugh, CEO of a Pittsburgh-based promotional products company, has

    grown his business 2,000 percent—and he’s done almost all of it through cold calling. Cold calling, or

    making an unsolicited phone call or visit to a prospective customer, can be quite effective for the

    salespeople who know the right approach, but it’s also most salespeople’s least favorite prospecting

    activity. For one thing, you never know whether the person on the other end of the line will be rude or

    hang up on you altogether. Additionally, most salespeople feel pressured to actually sell their product or

    make a pitch during a cold call, but according to Cavanaugh, cold calling isn’t about making sales; it’s

    about establishing a connection with the prospect. [20]

    According to Cavanaugh, it’s essential to get the prospect to like you in the first thirty seconds. [21] While

    this may sound like it’s putting a lot of pressure on you as the caller, you can actually think of it as a way of

    taking the pressure off. Remember, you don’t have to sell your product during the call; the goal is only to

    make a positive connection. You don’t have to lay the schmooze on either. Instead, be direct and sincere,

    and be yourself. Your prospect, who is probably very busy, will appreciate directness and brevity.

    Hanzo Ng, CEO of the Malaysian company Sales Ninja, agrees. Ng says the goal of the cold call should be

    to find out whether your prospective buyer’s needs match your solutions. If you know you can’t help your

    lead solve her problems, you shouldn’t pursue the call further. [22] A cold call is a perfect way to find out at

    what stage the lead is in of his buying process. She might still be a lead for future sales, but at this time she

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    isn’t a qualified prospect. For that matter, if your lead seems unreceptive, you might also decide to end the

    call or to offer to try back at another time. Ultimately, it’s important that your prospective buyer doesn’t

    feel like she’s being pressured in any way; people have come to expect pushy salesmen and saleswomen on

    the phone, and you want to set yourself apart from this perception.

    If the lead does have a problem that you can address, you should go ahead and offer to make an

    appointment to meet in person. Again, there should be no pressure on either end; your prospect will

    accept an appointment if she is interested. If she doesn’t agree to an appointment, don’t try to press it.

    Sometimes, it may simply be a matter of timing: your prospect might ask you to call back in few months.

    In this case, get your calendar out and set up a specific time when you can try to call back. For instance,

    “Three months from now will be early March. Is it all right for me to try calling again then?” If she agrees,

    go a step further and ask something like this: “In the meantime, would it be OK if I sent you occasional

    updates by e-mail to let you know about new developments and promotions with our product?” This

    enables you to periodically follow up so that you maintain a connection with your lead. [23]

    Finally, it’s important to research your prospect before making a call. You should know the size and scope

    of the company, key people, company culture, and anything about the company that has recently come up

    in the news. Doing your research allows you to personalize your introduction. After explaining who you

    are, you might say, “I recently read in Crain’s Chicago Business that your company’s number one priority

    in the coming year is doubling revenues by increasing your sales force….” Doing your research and

    keeping a few simple tips in mind should take the pressure off in cold calling and give you the confidence

    to establish crucial prospect connections.

    Power Prospecting Source #10: Be a Subject Matter Expert

    Wouldn’t it be great if, rather than going out to track down prospects, you could get your prospects to

    come to you? Presenting yourself as a subject matter expert, an authority in your field, is one secret for

    making this happen. CEO and consultant Keith Ferrazzi, started using this technique shortly after

    graduating from college. Even though he didn’t have much experience under his belt as a new graduate,

    he picked an area and began researching until others in his industry came to know him as an expert and

    would go to him for consultation and advice. Set up a blog or write articles offering free advice. According

    to Ferrazzi, you should make a habit of writing and publishing articles in your industry. [24]

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    If you include your contact information and a brief bio on the page, then qualified prospects will often find

    you on their own. For instance, maybe you work for a company that sells résumé and cover letter

    consulting services for job seekers. You decide to write an article explaining “10 Things to Avoid When

    Dressing for a Job Interview,” and you post the article on your blog and submit it to CollegeGrad, a Web

    site that publishes helpful blog posts like yours. You allow CollegeGrad to use your article for free in

    exchange for posting a link to your Web site in the margins of the Web page. Now when people perform a

    Google search on “dressing for a job interview,” your article may come up, ensuring that a number of

    people who match your ideal prospect profile see the information about you and your product.

    When generating B2B leads, you can often find prospects by offering Web-based seminars, or Webinars,

    with helpful advice on some aspect of marketing, or by publishing informative reports (white papers) that

    people can download for free. For instance, a marketing consulting firm might offer a white paper on

    “Increasing Your Open Rate on E-mails” that businesses can download for free as long as they register

    their information on the firm’s Web page. Requiring users to register allows the firm to track contact

    information for new leads with whom they can then follow up by e-mail, cold call, or mail. Even better, if a

    lead finds that the free advice they downloaded is useful, they will quite likely contact the firm voluntarily

    to find out about the marketing services they provide.

    Organizing Your Prospect Information

    If you’ve ever ordered shoes from Zappos, you might be aware that the company is known for its excellent

    customer service. But you might not know one of their secrets to achieving this: keeping detailed records

    of every interaction they have with a customer. These records are part of a

    customer relationship management (CRM) system, the tools a company uses to record and organize their

    contacts with current and prospective customers. If you ever shop at Amazon, you’ll notice the product

    suggestions that pop up on your screen when you log on. That’s also an example of how CRM is used. [25]

    Choosing a System

    CRM software allows you to maintain relationships in a systematic way, following up more consistently

    with your leads and continuing to meet the needs of your existing customers. If the individual with whom

    you’ve been doing business at a particular company leaves, you should update that in your database and

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    begin prospecting for another lead at the company. If you’ve recently mailed information to some of your

    leads, CRM software will help you keep track of which customers the mailing went to and how recently it

    went out, so you know when to follow up with those prospects by phone. You have a huge range of CRM

    programs from which to choose, and while these applications were once large-business luxuries, more

    recently there are versions that are priced within the reach of smaller businesses as well. [26]

    On the other hand, depending on the type of sales and prospecting your company does, you may only

    need to use a contact management system (CMS), a system that keeps track of your customer calls and

    meetings, which is usually less expensive than CRM software. CMS programs are another means of

    tracking and organizing customer and prospect information, but unlike CRM, CMS programs don’t track

    all information about every customer interaction. If you are the only person from your organization

    dealing with a particular prospect (e.g., if you’re a stockbroker or a real estate agent), you usually only

    need CMS software. The CMS will allow you to keep current contact and company information on your

    prospects and to record detailed notes about your conversations with them. But if your company uses

    multiple methods and/or multiple salespeople to communicate with a prospect (think or Best

    Buy), then CRM will be a better tool so that each salesperson who interacts with the customer can record

    their interactions with that individual or company and so that your organization know how and when to

    follow up. [27]

    Gathering Intelligence

    If you know your prospect is an eight-year-old online auction house with fifty-two employees operating

    out of Atlanta, that’s information—statistics you regularly update in your customer databases. These are

    facts that your competitors can also easily access using a simple online directory search. But what about

    the last time you visited your prospect in person? While waiting to meet with your contact, you overheard

    the receptionist talking about the complaints the company had been getting recently because of their

    confusing Web page layout. If you represent a Web design firm, that’s valuable information, and it’s news

    your competitor can’t access. In other words, it’s not just information, it’s intelligence. You can use this

    intelligence to your advantage when you put it together with other information. In this situation, assume

    you happen to know that one of the competing design firms in town just lost its best online retail

    specialist, while your company has two designers who have worked with similar online retailers in the

    past. So you know your company can address your prospect’s need in a unique way. Now you’re armed

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    with competitive intelligence. Keeping your eyes and ears open for intelligence during every interaction is

    an important part of prospecting, and it’s particularly important to track the intelligence you gather in

    your customer databases. You never know when it might prove useful.

    It’s also helpful to think about information that will help you make a personal connection to your prospect

    (remember from how important the emotional connection is). Your observations and information

    gathering should carry over to personal details like your prospect’s family, his birthday, or his hobbies.

    Include these insights as part of your organized records, too. It might seem strange at first to make a

    formal record of personal details, but keeping track of things like the name of your prospect’s two children

    sends the message that you care about the person, not just his business, and this in turn builds customer

    loyalty. Upscale hotels like the Four Seasons do this kind of customer relationship management

    particularly well. Receptionists and concierges track personal details of repeat customers, learning to

    greet them by name and ask about specific details from previous visits: “Did your sister like the gift you

    bought her last time you were here?” or “How was your recent trip to Japan?”

    Keep It Up-to-Date

    Things can change quickly in business, particularly at large companies. The account manager you spoke

    with last month may have moved to another company yesterday, or the purchasing agent who seemed

    excited about your product last year may have had to deal with significant budget cuts this year that

    prevent him from buying again. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your prospect information current. If your

    competitor sees an opportunity before you do, you’re likely to lose yourself a prospect. And if the

    individual with whom you’ve been doing business at a company is no longer working there, it’s important

    to find another key person to contact soon if you want to keep your customer.

    Several online business directories (like those mentioned earlier) let you subscribe to customized alerts

    that will notify you when one of your target companies appears in the news, when there’s turnover of key

    personnel, or when companies in your industry merge or split off. Most of the directory services have a

    fee, but there are a number of ways to stay current, on industry news at least, without paying. RSS (Really

    Simple Syndication) readers (Microsoft Outlook has one, and so does Google) allow you to subscribe to

    specific news feeds, like The Hollywood Reporter or Advertising Age’s Web page, so that you can keep

    abreast of the news that affects your industry without having to go out and mine several Web pages every

    day. Google News Alerts ( is a free service that sends you e-mail updates of the

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    latest Google search results based on your choice of search criteria so you can keep current on your

    competitors and prospects.

    Qualifying Your Prospects

    After you’ve identified your prospects, it’s important to understand that all customers are not created

    equal. Some customers are willing to form business partnerships and grow with you over time while

    others are just looking to do business with whoever offers the lowest price. Some prospects may never be

    able to help you or your company achieve your business goals, or their goals may not be strategically

    aligned with yours, even if you really like doing business with them. Choosing customers carefully will

    save you time and energy and help you meet you goals. You don’t want to spend several hours writing up a

    proposal for one of your prospects only to find out they were never genuinely interested. [28]

    Think back to the sales funnel and the idea that you start out with a large pool of leads and end with a

    much smaller number of customers. While it is important to cast your nets broadly when you’re rounding

    up leads, you’ll work most effectively if you weed out the likely from the unlikely early on. You can qualify

    your leads to determine whether they are legitimate prospects by discovering whether they have

    the willingness and the ability to make a purchase. Consider these five questions to help you meet your

    qualifying objectives:

    • Does your prospect have a need? This is the most basic thing to figure out about your prospect.

    There is no use pursuing another individual in the company or delivering a persuasive presentation if

    there is nothing you can do for this person or organization. If you sell new cars, and your lead is

    satisfied with the car he bought three months ago, you don’t have anything to offer him.

    • Does he or she have the authority to make the buying decision? You can try to sell candy to

    a five-year-old, and he’ll probably want to buy it, but unless you can convince his parents to make the

    purchase you don’t have a sale. Similarly, your lead at a company may love your product and tell you

    it’s exactly what her company needs. But if she isn’t the person with the power to buy, she isn’t a

    qualified prospect. This doesn’t mean you should write the company off, but you’ll have to figure out

    how to get in touch with the person who can make the buying decision.

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    • Does he or she have the resources to purchase the product or service? Sometimes knowing

    the answer to this question involves contacting the lead and asking some questions. Other times, you

    can figure this out by doing company research before ever getting in touch with the lead. You wouldn’t

    have tried to make a major sale to Circuit City just before they went out of business because they

    wouldn’t have had the resources to buy.

    • Does he or she have the willingness to purchase the product? Even if your lead has the

    resources and authority to buy, he might not be interested in what you’re selling. He might be dead

    set on a Caribbean cruise when you are selling packages to a ski resort.

    • Do you have access to the influencer or decision makers? This is relatively straightforward in

    B2C sales, but in B2B, it can be hard. If you wanted to sell your clothing line to Macy’s, you couldn’t

    go downtown to your local branch and pitch your product. Large organizations have layers of

    personnel, and it’s challenging to ferret out the people whose can influence the buying decision. Think

    about whether you can reasonably access these individuals.

    Managing Your Prospect Base

    So you’ve qualified your prospect and you have his or her information in your CRM system. It would be

    nice if that were all it took. But your CRM is only a way of tracking and organizing customer information;

    making an action plan, a specific plan of approach, for each customer is up to you. And you won’t make

    any sales if you don’t act.

    After qualifying, you might have some prospects with a clear need, buying authority, and a fairly high level

    of interest, while others seem uncertain. If you classify your prospects as “hot,” “warm,” and “cold,” you

    can prioritize by devoting the most initial energy to your top potential customers. [29] No two customers

    are alike. This means that even though you’ve qualified prospects A and B and determined that

    they do have needs you think you can meet, those needs will be different, possibly drastically so. It’s a

    good idea to begin your action plan by conducting a careful needs analysis—that is, what specific problems

    is this prospect facing and how can my product help solve those problems?

    Finally, think about the next steps in the sales process. Based on this customer’s specific needs, how will

    you design your preapproach? What details should be in your presentation, when should you make your

    presentation, and how and when will you try to close? Develop a timeline and plot out the steps. If you can

    envision the sale, you are already halfway there.

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    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • Prospecting takes creativity and knowledge. You have to look for potential buyers in many places.

    • Existing customers and referrals can be excellent sources of prospects because the customers are already

    familiar with your service and can speak on your behalf.

    • Networking provides the opportunity to leverage your existing relationships to develop new leads.

    • Business directories and databases (in print and online), trade publications, business journals, are all

    excellent sources to identify leads.

    • Trade shows and events give you an opportunity to talk to prospects.

    • Advertising and direct marketing provide a way to reach out to many prospects who may have an interest

    in your product or service.

    • Cold calling is an opportunity to approach the prospect and learn more about how you can meet her


    • Being a subject matter expert can set you apart and help generate leads because of your expertise.

    • Qualifying the lead includes identifying if the prospect is ready, willing, and able to make a purchasing

    decision about your product or service.

    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Assume you are selling staffing services to banks and financial institutions. Identify three sources you

    would use to identify prospects.

    2. Imagine that you sell real estate in your area. Discuss three ways referrals can find you.

    3. Assume you are selling advertising. Identify three trade organizations that you might use as sources for


    4. Assume you are responsible for donations at a local nonprofit organization that provides services for

    battered women. You are looking for possible corporate sponsors for your shelter. Visit your campus

    library and review at least two of the databases or directories listed in this section and identify two leads

    from each one.

    5. Assume you sell lumber to construction companies. How would you use a trade show to identify leads?

    6. Identify the industry for each of the following NAICS codes. How would this information be helpful

    in prospecting?

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    7. [1] Adam Stone, “Dennis Kelly Photography Took a Shot with Facebook,” Philadelphia Business Journal,

    June 5–11, 2009, 10–11.

    8. [2] Jeff Bressler, “How Much to Spend to Acquire New Customers?” CEO World Magazine, May 13,

    2009, (accessed June

    10, 2009).

    9. [3] Seth Godin, “How to Flip the Sales Funnel,” video, Selling

    Power, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    10. [4] Jeff Leach, Randy Crochet, and Brock Fillinger, “How One Small Business Uses Twitter to Build Its

    Brand,” Advertising Age, May 29, 2009, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    11. [5] John Spence, “Seven Steps to Successful B2B Marketing,” John Spence Blog, comment posted October

    31, 2007, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    12. [6] Clara Shih, The Facebook Era (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009), 2.

    13. [7] Jessica E. Vascellaro, “Social Networking Goes Professional,” Wall Street Journal, August 28,

    2007, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    14. [8] Clara Shih, The Facebook Era (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009), 2.

    15. [9] Occupational Health and Safety Administration, “SIC Search,” United States Department of

    Labor, (accessed June 9, 2009).

    16. [10] David Whitford, “Built by Association,” Inc., July

    1994, (accessed June 10, 2009).

    17. [11] Boston Public Library, “Directories on the

    Internet,” (accessed February 15, 2010).

    18. [12] Center for Business Research, “Public vs. Private Companies,” Long Island

    University, (accessed June 10, 2009).

    19. [13] “About Hoovers Handbook of Private Companies 2009,”

    Hoovers, (accessed June 10, 2009).

    20. [14] “Beverage Bottles Lighten Up,” Packworld, May 1, 2009, (accessed

    June 10, 2009).

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    21. [15] Paige Palmateer, “Inaugural Horse World Expo Coming to Syracuse,” CNY Business Journal, May 4,

    2007,;col1 (acces

    sed June 10, 2009).

    22. [16] Barton A. Weitz, Sephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships (New

    York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2003).

    23. [17] Tony Alessandra, “Direct Mail Prospecting,” Speakers

    Roundtable, (accessed February 15,


    24. [18] Tony Alessandra, “Direct Mail Prospecting,” Speakers

    Roundtable, (accessed February 15,


    25. [19] Tony Alessandra, “Prospecting, ” Assessment Business


    February 15, 2010).

    26. [20] Susan Greco, “The Nonstop, 24-7 CEO Salesman,” Inc., August

    2000, (accessed June 11, 2009).

    27. [21] Susan Greco, “The Nonstop, 24-7 CEO Salesman,” Inc., August

    2000, (accessed June 11, 2009).

    28. [22] Hanzo Ng, “Prospecting, Cold Calling & Networking,” Malaysian Business, October 1,

    2008,;col1 (acce

    ssed June 11, 2009).

    29. [23] Keith Rosen, “Keep the Lines of Communication with Your Prospects Open,”

    AllBusiness, June 11,


    30. [24] Keith Ferrazzi, “To Be Known, or

    Unknown,” Inc., (accessed June 11,


    31. [25] “Making Customer Relationship Management Work,” Inc.,

    2001, (accessed June 11, 2009).

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    32. [26] Karen M. Kroll, “CRM: Software as a Customer Service,” Inc.,

    2007, (accessed June 11, 2009).

    33. [27] Andrew Boyd and Alex Jeffries, “The Crucial Difference Between Contact Management and CRM,” E-

    commerce Times, January 29,

    2009, (accessed June 11,


    34. [28] Paul Cherry, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process of Discovering What Your Customer Really

    Wants (New York: AMACOM, 2006), 37.

    35. [29] Derek Brown, “Growing and Managing Your Prospect Pipeline,” Coreconnex, February 2,

    2009, (accessed

    June 11, 2009).

    7.4 Selling U: How to Use Prospecting Tools to Identify 25
    Target Companies

    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Understand how to identify prospective employers.

    If you’ve ever applied for a job or an internship, you know how frustrating it can be. You might scour

    the local paper or Craigslist for new postings, only to find one or two promising leads. This is

    especially true if you’re applying during peak times (e.g., the beginning of summer, when all the

    students are looking for work at once) when you know that tens, maybe hundreds of others, are

    sending in applications for the same positions. The good news is that now that you know about

    prospecting and qualifying, you are in control of your job search and have the power to set yourself

    apart from your competitors.

    Three Steps to Prospecting for the Right Employer

    You don’t have to limit yourself to a handful of job prospects. Once you know where to look, you’ll be

    overwhelmed with the possibilities. There is no need to wait for your prospects to post job openings or to

    find your résumé somewhere and approach you; instead, you identify your “buyer” and approach them.

    Most job seekers look for advertised positions through Internet job sites, newspaper want ads, or

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    employment agencies. This is a fair starting point, especially if some of your target companies have posted

    vacancies. But it’s important to know that only about one-fifth of the jobs are actually advertised this

    way. [1]The other four out of five positions are never publicly announced; they might be filled internally, by

    networking (covered in Chapter 3 “The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to

    Work”), or through cold-contact (or unsolicited) applications. This means that prospecting and qualifying

    potential employers (whether or not they are advertising for a position) is likely to yield good results,

    provided you do your research first.

    If this sounds far-fetched—What? You can send an application when there’s no job posting?—think about

    J. Crew. When the company has new merchandise, they send out a catalog. You don’t usually request the

    catalog, but when it comes, if you like J. Crew’s products, you’ll take a look, and you might just buy. Just

    because a company hasn’t posted a position doesn’t mean there isn’t a need. Let them know what you

    have to offer. [2]

    Step 1: Build Your Ideal Company Profile

    If you could work for your dream company, what would it look like? Would it be a fast-paced, competitive

    environment with good opportunities for advancement? Would it be a creative organization where you

    could work collaboratively with like-minded individuals? Would it be a company that includes social

    responsibility as part of its mission statement? Would you work for a nonprofit, where you could see

    firsthand the difference you were making in the world? Just as you begin prospecting by building an ideal

    customer profile,[3] you should also prospect potential employers by visualizing your ideal work


    Consider not only the criteria that are most important to you (e.g., benefits, company values,

    advancement opportunities), but also location. Do you want to stay in a particular region of the country?

    Is it important that you live in or near a big city? Do you want to live somewhere with good outdoor

    recreation? Is there some other condition that matters to you? You’re free to choose. is

    a resource that can help you with your location decision. You can also look at lists like Relocate-America’s

    Best Places to Live and then visit (use the Cost of Living Wizard) to determine how much more

    or less it will cost you to live in your favorite location.

    Finally, you should consider which employers will be interested in the skills you have to offer. But don’t

    sell yourself short here, either. Just as in prospecting you should never write off a lead without

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    investigating it, you should also never write off a lead in your job search. If you can see how your skills

    would benefit a company, that company is a potential employer.

    Essentially, there are three things to consider when you build your prospective employer profile:

    1. What are the most important characteristics of your ideal company?

    2. In which location would you most like to live?

    3. Which companies might be interested in the skills you have to offer in return?

    You can use all these factors as guidelines to generate a list of target companies. Building the ideal

    company profile isn’t about saying “wouldn’t it be nice if.…” Instead, it’s about empowering you to go out

    and find the employer for whom you want to work.

    Step 2: Make a List of 25 Target Companies

    So how many companies should you consider? Definitely more than the four or five that have recently

    posted ads in your local paper. Think about the sales funnel model: cast your net broadly to begin, but

    after some qualifying research, you should have a list of at least twenty-five prospects you’d like to target.

    Don’t define your targets too narrowly. For instance, if you’re going into accounting, consider service

    providers (accounting firms), but also consider companies that have an accounting department and

    recruiting firms that are interested in people with your skills. [4]

    Twenty-five prospects is a good rule of thumb for the top of your funnel because it doesn’t leave you with

    so many that you will overwhelm yourself with research and applications, but it is enough to allow for the

    fact that some prospects will drop out along the way. After additional research and contact with your

    prospects, you will find that some don’t meet your qualifications after all. Some companies in turn might

    not be willing to give you an interview; others might give you an interview, and even hang onto your

    résumé, but will tell you they don’t have any openings at the moment. Others might give you an interview

    but decide your qualifications aren’t what they are looking for. Even as the funnel narrows, an initial pool

    of twenty-five prospects should leave you with a number of companies that are interested in you and in

    whom you are also interested. Just as you learned earlier in this chapter, prospecting is never ending so

    you should always be adding new qualified prospects to your target company list.

    Finally, it is critical that as you define your prospects and perform your research, you keep records. Think

    about the contact management systems businesses use to organize and track their prospects. While you

    don’t need such a complex system for a job search, taking notes on Post-its or scraps of paper that

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    you might or might not find later on, or trying to commit details to memory, will sabotage your hard

    work. You can use a simple spreadsheet in Excel to organize and track prospective employer information.

    Even if you don’t consider yourself an organized person, if you use a simple tool like this one, you have the

    ability to keep your job search organized—and make your life much easier.

    Step 3: Forget about “To Whom It May Concern”

    If you ever get mail addressed to “Resident at (your address),” you know that these are the letters that end

    up straight in the trash. If someone can’t be bothered to find out your name, you won’t bother yourself to

    read their mail. The same is true with your job search: keep in mind that people, not organizations or

    departments, are ultimately responsible for hiring. So it’s essential to find key individuals at each

    company, especially when you’re sending out cold-contact cover letters and résumés. You want to make

    sure your letters actually get read, and if you open your letter with a general, impersonal address, it

    immediately sends the message that you don’t care enough to learn about the company and its people—

    more likely than not, your letter will end up in the recycle bin. [5]

    On the other hand, a little knowledge can go a long way. If a letter with the hiring manager’s name on it

    comes across his desk, he isn’t likely to ignore it. The best thing to do is begin with the company’s general

    number listed on their Web site (or in a directory or phone book) and ask the receptionist for the name,

    contact info, and title for the hiring manager in your field. If the receptionist gives you the name of the

    human resources manager, be persistent until you get the name of either the hiring manager, the head of

    your targeted department, or the company president (if it is a smaller organization). Especially if a

    company hasn’t announced that they are hiring, sending a letter to human resources means that your

    hiring manager—who might very well be interested in what you have to offer—will probably never receive

    your application. If calling the company’s general number doesn’t get you the contact information you

    need, the directory of Corporate Affiliations is an online source where you can find contact information

    for the key individuals in many companies.

    You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
    Every Company Should Get More than One

    You might think that you should send only one letter to each company. Don’t stop there! Increase your

    chances of getting a call by sending as many letters as possible to appropriate hiring managers at each

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    company. For example, if you are applying to an advertising agency for a position in account

    management, send a letter to the agency president, vice president of account services, account directors,

    account supervisors, even account executives. Don’t be afraid to send your letter to people like the

    president or vice president. Often times they will pass it along to the hiring manager and ask him to follow

    up with you. [6]

    Sources for Prospecting: How to Identify Your Target Companies

    So how do you go about finding prospective employers? The task may seem overwhelming, but there is a

    wealth of resources to help you once you’ve asked yourself some questions to help guide your search. You

    can start by choosing the specific area of your field you’d like to focus on. [7] For instance, an

    environmental designer might choose to specialize in sustainability issues, health care environments, or

    the design of retail spaces. Your prospects should be the companies who hire people with your skill set

    and particular focus.

    A number of good online business databases can get you started here; many are the same directories and

    databases you would use to find prospective buyers for your products (see the previous section). Keep in

    mind that while many of these databases charge a fee for their services, your local or school library should

    have free subscriptions. Directories are good resources for finding industry-specific companies (e.g.,

    accounting firms if you’re an accountant). But since you want to keep your search open to several kinds of

    companies, try using a combination of prospecting sources.

    Figure 7.7

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    Local business journals, like the Philadelphia Business Journal, can be found online at

    Find the business journal for forty different cities by using the drop down menu at the top. Enter “book of lists” in

    the search box and find the link for the Book of Listsfor all sixty-six markets.

    Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, used with permission.

    Many sources you would use for prospecting potential customers are also good sources for finding

    employment prospects. You can try membership lists for professional organizations, such as the American

    Marketing Association or the American Institute of Architects. It’s especially helpful to look for local

    chapters or organizations in the city in which you would like to work. For example, at the Philly Ad Club’s

    Web site, you can find a list of over one hundred advertising agencies in the region. Trade publications

    and trade Web sites are good sources for industry and employment information as well—as are business

    journals and business journal Web sites. Just as you might subscribe to an RSS (Really Simple

    Syndication) feed or Google News Alerts to stay up-to-date on your leads and competitors in business

    prospecting, you can do the same when prospecting for employers by subscribing to feeds for trade Web

    sites or business journals. Again, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of going to your local library. Ask

    your librarian to point you to some business lists, journals, and directories and take advantage of their

    free online subscriptions.

    Table 7.2 Sources for Finding Your Target Companies

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    Business Directories and Databases

    Riley Guide

    This Web site is loaded with information on job searching, and it

    provides a customized Google search to help you identify target

    employers. Best of all, it’s free.


    The site allows you to search by industry and geography. It also

    provides the name of the top companies in an industry segment.

    Advertising Redbooks

    The Web site contains information on over 20,000 advertising

    companies. This is an excellent source if you’re considering work in

    advertising or marketing.

    Business Lists

    Book of Lists

    Published in most major cities by American City Business Journals,

    these have contact information, company profiles, and key facts for

    specific employers in your targeted region. Most libraries have a

    hard copy available at no charge.


    The site links you to the Book of Lists for 40 U.S. cities (for a fee).

    “Best of” and “Top” Lists

    Top Entry Level Employers, Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work

    For, The Fastest-Growing Technology Companies, and The Best

    Places to Launch a Career are some examples. Check local

    publications as well as national publications such

    as BusinessWeek,,



    Professional Membership Organizations

    Local Professional Organizations

    Location and industry specific: Use your local online resources to

    identify local organizations. For

    example, includes a listing of local

    professional organizations for multiple industries.

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    Business Directories and Databases

    National Professional Organizations

    The Web site includes a listing of many professional organizations.

    Also, check out the Web sites of national organizations; many

    include links to local chapters. For example,,

    the home page for Sales and Marketing Executives International

    includes a link to local chapters.

    Trade Journals and Web Sites These often have listings for the top companies in their industry.

    Keep your ideal employer profile in mind as you generate leads. If you know the region or some specific

    cities in which you’d like to live, that can help refine your search because many directories are searchable

    by state or city. If you want to find a company with specific characteristics, business lists are good sources

    for prospects. For instance, if family-friendly companies are a priority, you could search Working

    Mother’s list of “100 Best Companies,” or if you want a workplace with young employees that offers good

    training and opportunities for advancement, you might search’s list of “Top Entry Level

    Employers.” Fortune publishes an annual list of the top one hundred companies to work for overall

    (, and they also provide top company

    lists by state, if you are considering a particular region of the country. Of course, the “Fastest-Growing

    Companies” list in national and local business publications is always a good reference with which to start.

    Qualifying Prospective Employers: Four Things to Consider

    After doing industry research, you might have a fairly large list of potential companies, but you can

    narrow it down to your twenty-five targets by doing more directed research on each of your prospects.

    Company Web Sites

    According to Amazon’s Web site, the company defines itself as technologically innovative, customer-

    centric, and a global leader in e-commerce. If you were to browse the Safeco Insurance Web site, you

    would find a company that describes their core values as diversity and an inclusive work environment,

    community outreach and sponsorship, and service that reaches a broad customer base. Any company’s

    Web site will give you insight into how the company presents itself: their mission and values, the benefits

    of the products and services they offer, and the culture they want to cultivate. The design of the Web site

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    itself can tell you something about the company. Are they conservative or cutting edge and creative? Is the

    page well organized and well maintained, or is it convoluted and difficult to navigate? Additionally, even if

    you plan to cold-contact an employer, the company’s career page will let you know if the organization has

    any advertised vacancies.

    Insider Perspectives

    The Web site lets you know what the company wants you to know about itself. But what about what other

    people are saying about a company? That’s certainly something that you’ll want to find out. Some Web

    sites, like Vault or WetFeet, offer honest, insider profiles of companies based on employee surveys about

    things like company culture, dress code, diversity, hours, vacation time, and opportunities for

    advancement. Does the company have a relaxed atmosphere? Do they expect employees to work long

    hours? These are things that the company Web site itself won’t tell you.

    Company News

    It’s also a good idea to check the news for the latest on what’s happening in a company. While companies

    promote their own good news, the media picks up everything in between. For instance, when the MGM

    Mirage corporation was facing massive debt and the possible failure of its extravagant City Center

    construction project, the news hit major papers across the country. But if you had gone to the company’s

    Web site or checked their press releases, you would have found announcements about “cost savings,”

    followed by praise for the scope and incredible amenities of the Mirage’s construction project—clearly a

    very different picture. To get company news, you can search national news sites for archived articles, or if

    you want to learn about a smaller, localized company, try searching local newspapers. It’s also a good idea

    to set up Google News Alerts or subscribe to RSS feeds for your field of interest (see the more detailed

    explanation in the previous chapter goal) so that you are constantly updating your intelligence, just as you

    would for a prospective buyer.

    Company Stats

    Finally, when qualifying prospective companies, there are a handful of other things to consider. How does

    the company measure up against its competitors? How large is the company? Is it profitable? For public

    companies you can use databases like D&B and Hoovers to research stock prices, quarterly earnings, and

    senior management changes. You can access this information on multiple companies at a time by taking

    advantage of free database subscriptions at your local library, or you can go to individual company Web

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    sites to gather stats. Publicly held companies usually post recordings of quarterly conference calls with

    analysts on their Web sites in the investor relations section.

    While you won’t be able to research stock prices or quarterly earnings onprivate companies, you can still

    find out about personnel turnover using most online databases. Ask yourself how this turnover might

    affect the way business is conducted and check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out if any

    complaints have been lodged against the company. Finding an employer that closely matches your ideal

    profile is well within your power, if you consider yourself—your unique brand—as a solution that can meet

    a prospective employer’s needs. The prospects are out there just waiting to be identified.
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • To get the job you want you need to prospect to find prospective employers.

    • It’s best to create a list of twenty-five target companies for which you would like to work.

    • Do your prospecting thoroughly to identify not only the companies but also multiple hiring managers at

    each company.

    • You can use the same tools to identify your target companies that you use to identify sales prospects.

    • Qualify your employment leads with additional research about the company from the company Web site,

    insider perspectives, company news, and company stats.

    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Create your ideal prospective employer profile using the following points:

    o What are the most important characteristics of your ideal company?

    o In which location would you most like to live?

    o Which companies might be interested in the skills you have to offer in return?

    2. Discuss how the sales funnel applies to your job search.

    3. Visit your campus library and meet with the librarian to learn about the databases, directories, or

    business lists that are available for your job search. Use at least two different sources to identify target

    companies (hint: the Book of Lists is available in many cities and provides a list of top companies in

    several categories).

    4. Using the list you created in Exercise 3, conduct further research about each company and identify at

    least three hiring managers to whom you can send your résumé and cover letter.

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    5. [1] Katherine Hansen and Randall Hansen, Dynamic Cover Letters: How to Write the Letter That Gets You

    the Job (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2001), 2.

    6. [2] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 140.

    7. [3] Brian Carroll, “10 Lead Generating (Prospecting) Tips for Sales People,” B2B Lead Generation Blog, May


    2007, (access

    ed June 11, 2009).

    8. [4] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 140.

    9. [5] Katherine Hansen and Randall Hansen, Dynamic Cover Letters: How to Write the Letter That Gets You

    the Job (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2001), 4.

    10. [6] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 140.

    11. [7] “Do the Research That Supports Your Job Search,” The Riley Guide, May

    2009, (accessed June 11, 2009).

    7.5 Review and Practice
    Power Wrap-Up
    Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand the seven steps of the selling

    process and how to identify and qualify sales prospects.

    • You can list the seven steps of the selling process and how they work.

    • You can understand the vital role of prospecting in the selling process.

    • You can compare and contrast the difference between a lead and a prospect.

    • You can discuss the role of the sales funnel.

    • You can identify ten prospecting sources.

    • You can understand how to qualify leads to become prospects.

    • You can apply the tools of prospecting to your job search.
    T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

    1. List the seven steps of the selling process.

    2. Why do salespeople qualify their leads before they call on them?

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    3. When a customer says, “It’s too expensive,” that’s an example of which step in the selling process?

    4. True or false: After the sale is made, the salesperson’s job is done.

    5. Why is prospecting considered the foundation of the selling process?

    6. Describe the sales funnel.

    7. Describe the difference between a lead and a prospect.

    8. Identify at least three business directories or databases that you can use to identify prospects.

    9. Identify three business journals that can be used for prospecting.

    10. Why is cold calling effective for prospecting?

    11. What is a subject matter expert? How can being a subject matter expert help you prospect for leads?
    P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

    Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Following are two roles that are involved in the

    same selling situation—one role is the customer, and the other is the salesperson. This will give you the

    opportunity to think about this selling situation from the point of view of both the customer and the


    Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

    in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-

    play in groups or individually.

    Count on Me

    Role: Controller

    You are the controller of a paper company. You currently have an internal accounting department, but

    since your company is growing so quickly, you are considering using an accounting services company to

    supplement the internal department. You met a sales rep from AccountSource at the last trade show, and

    their services sounded like what you need at your company.

    • What do you expect the sales rep to know about you and your business when she calls you?

    • What do you want to know about AccountSource and the sales rep when she calls?

    • What will convince you to agree to meet with the sales rep?

    Role: Sales rep for AccountSource

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    You are prospecting for new customers because your sales goals have increased and you need to expand

    into new areas. You met the controller from a paper company at the latest trade show, and you think this

    could be a good lead. You have some questions that you would like to ask the controller to see if this is a

    qualified lead.

    • Will you conduct research before you call the lead or after?

    • What research, if any, will you do?

    • What questions will you ask the controller?

    • How will you qualify this lead?
    P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

    1. Visit your campus career center to learn about prospective target companies, especially those that

    interview on campus. Do research on the companies including the names of hiring managers in the

    department in which you may want to work.

    2. Create your complete list of twenty-five target companies including at least three hiring managers at each


    T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E A N S W E R S

    1. Prospecting and qualifying, preapproach, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing the sale,

    and follow-up.

    2. Qualifying helps save time so you don’t waste time calling on people who don’t have the time, money, or

    authority to purchase your product or service.

    3. Handling objections.

    4. False. The salesperson’s job really begins when the sale is closed.

    5. When prospecting is done correctly, the other steps in the selling process build upon it.

    6. The sales funnel is a helpful way to visualize the process of finding and qualifying new prospects and

    ultimately converting them to customers. Not all leads become prospects, and not all prospects become


    7. A lead is a qualified prospect.

    8. There are several databases and directories, including Directory of Corporate Affiliations, Hoovers, and

    D&B Million Dollar Database.

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    9. There are several business journals including Wall Street Journal, Business Journals (by city), Crain (by

    major city).

    10. Cold calling gives you an opportunity to talk to the prospect and learn more about his goals and how you

    can add value.

    11. Subject matter experts are people who are authorities in their field. Subject matter experts share their

    knowledge at trade shows, at industry events, on blogs, and in other online communities and social

    networks. Being a subject matter expert helps establish you as being a leader in a particular area.

    Prospects usually want to learn more from and do business with subject matter experts.

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    Chapter 8
    The Preapproach: The Power of Preparation

    Part of building relationships that work is doing your homework. It’s not enough to simply use the

    information you gathered when you were prospecting and qualifying.

    8.1 Researching Your Prospect: Going Deeper
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Explain how to research a qualified prospect and list resources to conduct prospect research.

    Spring break is just around the corner. You and your friends definitely want to go away somewhere

    great. You decide on Cancún, Mexico, as a destination. Since you want to get the best plane fare and

    hotel rate, you will have to book early. That means planning, coordinating, and even doing some

    research on the area. You want everything to be perfect—after all, this is spring break.

    Just as preparation made your spring break trip come together perfectly, preparation also makes a

    sales call successful. By now you’ve identified and qualified your prospects, you’ve come up with an

    action plan, and you’re probably eager to get down to business. However, you can’t just call your

    prospect or show up at his door without doing your homework first. How big is his business? What

    are his business goals? What is his company culture? Is he already doing business with any of your

    competitors? In what ways do your products or services present a solution he could use? The

    preapproach, or the process of finding out the answers to these questions, is critical. [1] Doing your

    research and coming prepared gets your prospect’s attention and shows him that you care. It gives

    you the power to sell adaptively and puts you ahead of your competitors.

    Keep in mind that when someone ultimately decides to do business with you, he is trusting you with

    one of the things that’s most important to him—his money. Furthermore, he is trusting in you above

    all other people and companies to help him with his challenges. Consider that your company is using

    personal selling because customers want additional information or customization of the product or

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    service in order to make a decision. People only buy from people they trust.[2] You have to earn that

    trust every day. The first step starts here: how well are you prepared to earn his respect and trust?

    Gather Information

    By the time you’re ready for the preapproach, you’ve already done some initial research as part of the

    qualifying process. With the preapproach, you take your research to the next level; you find out as much

    as you possibly can about the company or individual with whom you want to do business. As marketing

    and strategy expert Noel Capon says, a thorough understanding of your prospect’s business processes and

    challenges gives you the crucial insights you’ll need to offer specific, workable solutions your customers

    can use. Gathering this information demonstrates personal commitment and boosts your credibility with

    your prospects. [3]

    Your research will pay off whether you’re preparing to contact a new prospect—a target account—or

    whether you’re working with an existing customer. InChapter 7 “Prospecting and Qualifying: The Power

    to Identify Your Customers”, you read that some of your best prospects are the customers you already

    have. It’s particularly important to identify your key accounts, your current customers who are—or have

    the potential to be—your most significant sources of sales. Maybe you sell insurance, and you’ve

    contracted with a large restaurant chain to provide their employee health and dental plan. This key

    account is one of the largest companies with whom you do business, so you make an extra effort to stay

    informed about developments that affect this company. You’ve recently received a news alert that due to

    an unstable economy the restaurant chain has decided to cut employee hours. As a result, many of the

    staff members are now working part-time and no longer qualify for full health benefits. Based on this

    information, you call your contact at the company and offer to provide a more flexible and less expensive

    partial employee benefits package for which their part-time workers could still qualify. You tell her that

    this solution will serve her company’s need to cut costs and will allow them to retain employees who

    might otherwise become dissatisfied and leave.

    Whether you’re contacting new or existing customers, it’s important to have your specific call objectives in

    mind and to clearly map out the information you’ve already gathered about the company so that you can

    refer to it during the call. You can keep this information organized using aprecall planning worksheet that

    lists the key company statistics you’ve identified as part of your research and includes a checklist detailing

    the purpose of the call: the information you’d like to learn about the company, the solutions or key facts

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    you plan to communicate, and any other goals you hope to achieve. The worksheet doesn’t have to be

    complex; it can be as straightforward as the sample in Figure 8.1 “Precall Planning Worksheet”. Your

    customer relationship management (CRM) or contact management system (CMS) may also provide a

    place for you to do your precall planning work. A sample precall planning worksheet is shown in Figure

    8.1 “Precall Planning Worksheet”.

    Figure 8.1 Precall Planning Worksheet

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    Listing your goals in writing before you make a sales call gives you the power to measure the success of

    your call. Did you get the information you needed? Did you communicate the information you listed in

    your checklist? If not, how can you adapt your approach and set goals for your next sales call?

    Going Deeper with the Fundamentals: What You’ll Want to Know

    The first sales call (or calls) is often an extension of the qualifying process. Even if the company passes

    initial qualification, as you learn more you might find out that they aren’t your ideal customers after all.

    You might discover that your contact at the company is about to leave or change positions. Or you might

    realize that the company’s current situation isn’t one in which they’re willing or able to buy. The following

    are some things you’ll want to know as you research the company during your preapproach.

    About the Company

    • Demographics. Understanding the basics will help you ensure the company fits your ideal prospect

    profile and allow you to tailor your solution to fit the company’s particular situation. What kind of

    business is it? How large is the business? How many locations do they have? How many people work

    for them? Where is the home office located? How many years have they been in business?

    • Company news. Tracking company news is another way to discover opportunities for sales. Has the

    company put out any recent press releases? (You can generally find these on the company Web site in

    the investor relations, press release, or press room section.) Has the company recently appeared in

    the news? (Setting up Google News Alerts at for your current and

    potential customers will keep you up-to-date on this.)

    Don’t just read the news; creatively think about what the news is telling you about selling opportunities

    with a prospect. For example, if you were selling paper goods (cups, lids, straws, bags, cup jackets,

    napkins, etc.) to coffee shops, you would have read a press release about the test marketing of McCafés

    several months before the national launch. Then you would have read about the announcement of the

    national launch a few months before it was planned to occur. These press releases are selling

    opportunities. You might think it would only be a selling opportunity if you were selling to McDonald’s,

    but that’s not true. The fact is McDonald’s announced that it was about to expand the market for premium

    coffee. That’s an opportunity to help your customers and prospects. For example, what if you suggested

    that your customers and prospects print an advertisement on their bags, napkins, cups, and cup jackets to

    announce a promotion called “Morning Joe Wake-up Call”? “Buy a cup of coffee every day for ten days

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    and get a free cup of Joe!” This helps increase their sales, which ultimately increases your sales. You could

    bring this idea to your customer or prospect in advance of the McCafé launch and discuss how your idea

    can help him build his brand prior to the competitive effort. Now that’s using company news to drive

    sales. [4]

    • Financial performance. Keeping up-to-date on the company’s financial performance will help you

    determine whether your prospect is currently able to buy, which might lead you to discover sales

    opportunities. All publicly held companies are required to post their quarterly earnings on their

    websites. Generally there will be a link for “investors” or “investor relations” on the company home

    page that will take you to financial data, including a recording of the company’s quarterly earnings

    conference call. It’s a good idea to listen to these conference calls to learn important information

    about the company’s strategy and financial performance.

    Listen to the Most Current Quarterly Earnings Conference Call for Macy’s

    About the Company’s Customers

    • Customer demographics. Are the company’s products used by businesses or individual

    consumers? If consumers, what age, education, and income level? If businesses, what size and kind of

    businesses? Knowing the organization’s customer demographics will help you tailor your solution to

    the company. For instance, if you’re selling clothing designs to Old Navy, knowing that the company

    appeals to families and that it draws in value-conscious customers, you might send them samples

    from your more basic and reasonably priced clothing line, rather than your top-of-the-line products

    or your trendiest designs.

    • Size of customer base. In B2B sales, it’s important to know whether your prospect serves many

    customers or primarily works with a few large accounts. Microsoft, for example, sells its products to

    large corporations, but they also deal with individual consumers. Some companies, on the other hand,

    work with a few large accounts, so their success is very dependent on the success of their key

    customers. If your prospect is a sporting goods manufacturer that only sells its products to Dick’s

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    Sporting Goods, Dick’s Sporting Goods’ financial performance will affect the performance of your

    prospect’s business.

    • What customers are saying about your prospect. You can learn a lot about a company by

    paying attention to its reputation with customers. If the business has a lousy customer service record,

    they might not treat their vendors well either. This is why it’s worthwhile to read customer reviews as

    part of your qualifying process. For instance, if you do business with airline companies, you might

    prefer to fly with Southwest (whose customer reviews say things like “This is an airline I’ll use again

    and again!”) than United Airlines (where one reviewer writes, “United Airlines hands down has the

    worst customer service of any company I have ever dealt with”). For large companies, doing a Google

    search will often bring up customer reviews on the organization, or you can try a Web site

    like Epinions. For local companies, try searching your regional Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if

    any customer complaints have been filed against the company.

    About the Current Buying Situation

    • Type of purchase. In Chapter 6 “Why and How People Buy: The Power of Understanding the

    Customer”, you learned the different types of buys—straight rebuy, modified rebuy, or strategic

    alliance. Knowing that information is extremely valuable during your preapproach research. Is the

    customer making a first-time purchase of the product? (For instance, maybe you’re selling disaster

    recovery services to a company that has previously lived with the risk of not having their data backed

    up.) Or will this purchase be a rebuy? Maybe the customer is an interior design firm. The firm already

    buys paint from a certain supplier but is thinking of making a modified rebuy: purchasing a more

    environmentally friendly line of paints, either from the same supplier or from someone else (hopefully

    you!). On the other hand, maybe the design firm is already buying from you and is perfectly happy

    with the paints and with you as a supplier, so it decides to make a straight rebuy of the same product.

    It’s also possible that your prospect is considering a strategic alliance with your company in which

    your organizations would make an agreement to share resources. For example, Pepsi has a strategic

    alliance with Frontier Airlines in which Frontier agrees that all the soft drinks it serves on board the

    airline will be Pepsi brand. [5] Knowing the type of purchase will help you position your solution to

    best fit the situation.

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    • Competitor/current provider. If your prospect is already buying from another company, you’ll

    want to know who your competitor is. What do you know about this company and their products?

    Most important, what are your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses? Consider the interior design

    firm that is about to make a rebuy. If you’ve done your research, you might be able to tell the firm, “I

    know your current supplier offers a high-quality paint product in a wide range of color choices. Our

    company offers a wide range of color choices, too, and our product consistently gets high reviews.

    However, unlike your current provider, we also have a line of soy-based paints, which are better for

    the environment and for your customers’ and employees’ health than the regular latex variety. Using

    soy-based paints will increase your reputation as a progressive, socially responsible business.”

    Knowing your prospect’s current supplier gives you the power to favorably position your product by

    highlighting the things that set you apart from the competition.

    • Current pricing. If the information is available, find out what your prospect’s current supplier

    charges for their product or service. This information will give you the edge to competitively position

    your solution. If you charge less than your competitors, you can highlight your product as a cost-

    saving alternative. If your products cost more, you might consider offering a discount or other benefit

    to provide a better solution. On the other hand, if your products are more expensive because they’re of

    a higher quality, you should emphasize that fact. For example, soy-based paint is generally more

    expensive than latex paint, but depending on your customer’s needs, the extra cost might be worth the

    benefits of a healthier, “greener” product.

    About the Contact Person

    • Title and role in the company. This is basic and essential information to know. It will help you to

    personalize your communications and will give you a better sense of your business situation. What

    role does this person have in the buying decision? Are you dealing with an influencer in the

    organization? Does this contact person have the authority to make a buying decision, or is this person

    a gatekeeper, a person with whom you must talk in order to get to the decision maker?

    • Professional background. How long has this person been at the company, and what positions has

    he held? What roles has he had at other companies? This information will help you to adapt your

    communications and solutions to the individual. You can find valuable information on professional

    social networks such as LinkedIn and and use it as you prepare your approach and

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    presentation. For instance, you might find out that someone in your network knows the person you

    are planning to approach and she can provide an entry for you. You might also learn that the person

    you plan on calling on was previously a buyer at two other companies and usually likes to bring in his

    previous vendors. If that’s the case, you might adapt your approach to include benefits that you have

    brought to other buyers who switched to your company.

    • Personal information. Everyone likes to do business with people they like. Learning what you can

    about your contact’s family, hobbies, and interests demonstrates that you care about him as an

    individual and helps you build a relationship with your customer. This is useful information to keep

    on hand for the opening of the sales call when you want to put your prospect at ease and convince him

    of your goodwill. And it’s good information to use as follow-up or just to keep in touch. (“I know you

    are a huge University of Florida fan so I thought you would enjoy this video of the team’s summer

    training camp.”)

    • Essential problem(s) your contact needs to solve. Knowing this information takes you right to

    the heart of the issue. Maybe your prospect is the marketing manager at the company and has recently

    been given the task of finding a new breakthrough idea for a promotional product to give away at a

    major upcoming industry trade show. Or maybe your prospect owns a grocery chain and needs to

    increase her sales in the frozen food area with organic products. Learning the specific problems your

    contact faces in his role at the company is the only way you can adapt your solution to meet his needs.

    The best way to identify your prospect’s problem (or opportunity) is to do extensive research on the


    • Motivation for buying. If your contact is already buying from another supplier, what reasons

    might he have to start buying from you instead? For instance, is he dissatisfied with the quality of his

    current provider’s service or the price of the product? If he is satisfied, what value can you bring that

    provides a reason for him to consider changing suppliers? On the other hand, if this is a first time

    purchase, what will drive his initial decision to buy?

    About Your Existing Customers

    Your current customers are your best prospects. While you might be excited about a new account, make

    sure you don’t spend so much time and energy on new prospects that you neglect the ones with whom

    you’ve already established a relationship.

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    • Opportunities to expand the relationship. There’s no better place to increase your sales than

    with your existing customers. They know you and your product or service, you know them and their

    needs and challenges. So start by leveraging the information you already know about your customer’s

    business. This is the best way to expand your relationship. For instance, if you have sold fitness

    equipment to a regional chain of health clubs and you know that it is important for them to minimize

    maintenance costs and down time, you could target the buyer as a prospect for the new line of weight

    machines with hydraulics. You could also expand your research and determine how much money the

    club could save in a year based on the number of machines and include that as part of your

    presentation. This is establishing your value proposition, what you have to offer that your prospect or

    customer is willing to pay for.

    If your customer is using some of your services in combination with your competitor’s services, this is also

    a sales opportunity: find out how satisfied your customer is with the competitor’s services and see if you

    can come up with a better solution. (“You’re currently using our hydraulic weight machines, but I see that

    you’re buying your exercise machines from this other company. Did you know that we offer treadmills,

    exercise bikes, and elliptical machines that come with free maintenance and product replacement

    guarantees?”) If your customer has a contract with this competitor, finding out when the contract expires

    will help you time your sales call effectively. [6]

    And what about your contracts with the customer? If you have a service-level agreement (SLA) with the

    customer, you can leverage this opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship. SLAs define the

    terms of the service you will provide, and they generally expire after a certain length of time (think about

    the contract you have with your cell phone provider). Establish open lines of communication to make sure

    your customer is consistently satisfied with your service. You might discuss expanded service options he

    can purchase, or you could offer a discount for renewing the contract early. Consider giving a short survey

    to gauge your customer’s satisfaction level and find out whether there are additional services you might be

    able to offer her.

    You can also consider moving into other departments of the organization: use your CRM system to track

    the organizational structure of the company and find the influencers in other departments. Of course, you

    can ask your current contacts at the company for referrals of other prospective buyers within the

    company. [7] Maybe you’re formatting documents for the research branch of the company, but you know

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    the company also has a communications department that puts out brochures, reports, and newsletters.

    You can scan your CRM database (or look on the company’s Web site) for the names of managers in the

    communications department and ask your contact in the research department if he could give you a good


    • Opportunities for synergy. How can you partner with your customer in new ways that will benefit

    both companies? For instance, maybe there’s an opportunity for a strategic alliance like the one

    between Pepsi and Frontier Airlines: Frontier buys exclusively from Pepsi, while Pepsi helps promote

    Frontier. Or are there additional services or products you offer that, used in combination with your

    customer’s current purchases, would create an even stronger solution? For example, Linksys has its

    Linksys One program, which offers B2B customers high-speed wireless networks combined with an

    Internet telephone service and several software services. By combining one company’s software and

    hardware products and services, customers are able to streamline their work, creating a simpler, more

    efficient system. [8]If you can demonstrate potential synergy with an existing customer—that is,

    collaboration that produces greater results than individual products, services, or parties could

    produce alone—you have an opportunity to expand your business with that customer.

    Sources of Information

    When you want to dig deeper with your research, you can often return to the same sources you used

    during the qualifying process and simply get more specific with the information you gather.

    • Online searches. Search online databases and directories such as Hoovers and current news stories

    on Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg, and other business Web sites (see Chapter 7 “Prospecting and

    Qualifying: The Power to Identify Your Customers” for a complete list of sources for company

    information) to find out about company demographics and key people in the organization. If you want

    to learn more detailed information about your contacts in the company, try online professional social

    networks like LinkedIn.

    • Business directories. Remember the value of your local library where you can search business

    directories in print and access some online directories free of charge.

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    • Publicly available contracts. Real estate closings, government contracts, and other vital

    information that is part of public records can help provide pricing, terms, and other important data

    that can help you benchmark against the competition and better understand your prospect’s current


    • Trade journals. Trade journals are a good source for learning more about people and companies in

    your target industry. Making a habit of reading these publications (or subscribing to RSS [Really

    Simple Syndication] feeds, as described in Chapter 7 “Prospecting and Qualifying: The Power to

    Identify Your Customers”) helps keep you up-to-date on developments in these companies and in the


    • Blogs, social networks, and online forums. These online resources can provide insight about

    the prospect, the competition, and the environment. Many company employees and executives post

    regularly about their perceptions and feelings on many topics. These comments can provide valuable

    insight about the prospect.

    • Professional organizations. Joining professional organizations (in person and online) can help

    you build relationships with contacts at your target companies. These organizations also serve as a

    source for competitive knowledge and for your connection to industry buzz.

    In addition to these sources you’ve already used, consider another powerful resource: people. If you’ve

    already formed a relationship with key people in your target company, you can ask them for referrals to

    influencers in other departments of the organization. Your contacts at an organization have inside

    knowledge and will usually be able to tell you whom to talk to if you want to make something happen. If

    they’re satisfied with the service you’ve been providing, these contacts are often happy to give you the

    names of others who might be able to use your solutions. Complementary salespeople can also be an

    excellent source of information about a prospect. For example, if you are selling computer hardware you

    might find nuggets of information from the person who sells office furniture. You can help each other by

    sharing insights and information.

    It might surprise you to know that competitive salespeople can also be a resource. If you’re a member of a

    professional organization, if you attend conferences or tradeshows, or if you’re simply connected in your

    community, you’ll probably know competitive salespeople. While your competitor isn’t going to give you

    the inside scoop on a prospect he’s currently pursuing, he might share some useful insights about

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    companies or people he has worked with in the past. Maybe he used to do business with one of your

    current contacts and can tell you things to avoid or things that will impress her. (“She will eat you alive if

    you don’t have all your information.”) Maybe one of your target companies is an organization he has sold

    to in the past, and he has some useful advice about the way they work. Never underestimate the power of

    relationships and networking.
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • The preapproach is a critical step that helps you earn your customer’s trust and sell adaptively; this is true

    whether you are meeting with a new customer—a target account—or an existing customer—one of

    your key accounts.

    • Before you make your sales call, you should know the objectives of the meeting. You should record these

    objectives, along with basic company information, on a precall planning worksheet.

    • Preapproach research includes information like company demographics, company news, and financial

    performance to help you discover sales opportunities and go deeper in your qualifying process.

    • Research the company’s customers, the current buying situation, and your contact person at the

    company to help you tailor your sales approach.

    • Research your existing customers to find opportunities for expanding the relationship and creating more


    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Assume you have identified Gap as a prospect for your product line called “Green” Jeans, blue jeans made

    with completely recycled materials. You are preparing for a sales call with the denim buyer in the Gap’s

    home office. What demographic information would you gather about the company during the

    preapproach stage? What would recent company news tell you in preparation for your sales call? What

    do current customers think about Gap? What is your value proposition, and how does it fit Gap’s need?

    2. Imagine you work for a company that sells interior design services and acts as an art broker (finding and

    purchasing artwork to display) for large companies. One of your customers has used your broker services

    in the past, but you are hoping to expand the relationship. What additional information would you need

    to know to make a proposal?

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    3. Assume you are selling payroll services to small businesses. Identify three pieces of information you

    would learn about your prospect during your preapproach research and identify the sources where you

    would find the information.

    4. Imagine that you sell life insurance. Describe how customer demographics can help you with your

    preapproach research.

    5. Assume you are selling security systems and you have just qualified a prospect, Fine Dining, Inc., that

    owns a chain of fifteen restaurants in the area. Your contact is Lee Crowan, the operations manager. The

    corporate office is located in the Willowwood Corporate Center in Willowwood. You have learned that

    the chain is growing, with expansion to ten new restaurants planned in the next twelve months. You have

    also learned that security is a major issue since two of the existing restaurants have had break-ins during

    the past six months. Complete a precall planning worksheet for your upcoming call with Lee Crowan at

    Fine Dining, Inc.

    6. Assume you are selling financial services to consumers. You have identified a couple in their forties as

    qualified prospects. They are interested in retirement planning. What are three questions you would ask

    them during your initial meeting with them?

    7. [1] Neil Rakham, The SPIN Selling Fieldbook (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996), 39.

    8. [2] C. J. Ng, “Customers Don’t Buy from People They Like, They Buy from Those They Trust,” EzineArticles,

    August 7, 2008, Dont-Buy-From-People-They-Like,-They-Buy-From-

    Those-They-Trust&id=1391175 (accessed July 15, 2009).

    9. [3] Noel Capon, Key Account Management and Planning (New York: The Free Press, 2001), 142.

    10. [4] Gerry Tabio, “Creative Solutions,” presentation at Greater Media Philadelphia Sales Meeting,

    Philadelphia, PA, May 14, 2009.

    11. [5] “Frontier Airlines Partners with Pepsi,” Breaking Travel News, January 9,

    2003, July 15,


    12. [6] Marcel Sim, “Leveraging Your CRM System to Expand Your Client Relationships,” Get Entrepreneurial,

    August 12, 2008,

    service/leveraging_your_crm_system_to_expand_your_client_relationships.html(accessed July 15, 2009).

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    13. [7] Marcel Sim, “Leveraging Your CRM System to Expand Your Client Relationships,” Get Entrepreneurial,

    August 12, 2008,

    service/leveraging_your_crm_system_to_expand_your_client_relationships.html(accessed July 15, 2009).

    14. [8] Shonan Noronha, “The Joy of Work,” Inc., August 1,

    2007, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    8.2 Solving, Not Selling
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Understand how to identify needs and opportunities.

    Imagine you wanted to sell a new digital camera to your teenage sister. How would you convince her

    to buy? You might start by thinking of the things that matter to teenagers—specifically your sister.

    Maybe you’d say, “It’s small and lightweight so you can fit it in your purse and take it with you when

    you go out with your friends. It has a new sleek design, and you can customize it by ordering it in one

    of six different colors.” You’ve considered things your sister might need (a camera she can take on a

    night out), and you’ve identified an opportunity that might appeal to a teenaged girl (a combination

    of appearance, style, and functionality).

    Now what if you were selling the same product to your grandmother? She might be more concerned

    with reliability than appearance, and she might also be intimidated about using a digital camera if it’s

    a technology she hasn’t tried before. “This camera doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles,” you could

    say. “It’s straightforward and easy to use and makes an excellent choice for a first digital camera

    purchase. It’s perfect for taking pictures of the grandkids. It has also been highly rated as a reliable

    and high-quality product.” You’ve addressed her problem (intimidation about using a new

    technology), and you’ve helped her discover opportunities (taking photos of the grandkids).

    Even though you’re selling the same product to both people, you’re using a very different approach.

    Ultimately, what you’re selling is not a product but a solution based on your customer’s specific

    needs. This is the heart of the preapproach. There are three simple steps you can follow to turn your

    products and services into customer-specific solutions.

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    Step 1: Complete a Needs and Opportunity Analysis

    Great salespeople don’t sell, they solve. As you research your prospect, you should be able to identify

    problems that are specific to that person or organization: Do they need to reduce costs? Do they need to

    increase sales? Do they need to drive traffic to a Web site or generate leads for their new service? Or

    maybe they need something that will set their brand apart from their competitors. In the case of

    individual consumers, the problem might be very different: Does she want to have the latest in fashion

    without couture prices? Does she want the latest technology “toys” as soon as they are available? Does she

    want a car that is a dependable form of transportation and friendly to the environment?

    Sometimes people are forthcoming about their problems, but many times it’s up to you to ask

    the right questions; the ones that will uncover what your prospect needs or where opportunities exist.

    (Remember from that is one of the traits of a successful salesperson.) For instance, if your prospect is

    buying from a competitor, you might ask questions like “What were your expectations when you signed up

    for this service? What has your actual experience of the service been? What would you like to see happen

    differently?” The prospect might not fully realize what his problems are. [1] Often, especially in B2B sales,

    the goal of your first sales call will simply be to identify your prospect’s specific areas of need. You won’t

    make a pitch; you’ll just ask questions and listen. [2]

    Asking questions often opens up opportunities you might not otherwise discover. There will be occasions

    when your prospect doesn’t have an immediate problem she can identify, but if you’ve done your research

    and know something about her goals and priorities and if you ask the right questions, you have the chance

    to uncover useful opportunities. What can help him achieve his goals even more efficiently? What kinds of

    results would he like to see? [3] What would he like to have if he only knew it was possible?

    Think about the advent of the cell phone. Consumers had a problem: their lives were getting busier, and

    they wanted to be able to communicate on the go. They needed a phone they could use when they weren’t

    at home or in the office. What do you do on a car trip if you get lost or your car breaks down? How do you

    find someone in a crowded place? How can people get in touch with you if you’re almost never home? Cell

    phone providers figured out consumers’ problems, and they solved them. Then along came the iPhone.

    Most cell phone users wouldn’t have said they needed a device that could capture videos and photographs,

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    play MP3s, store a day planner, surf the web, run hundreds of different applications—oh, and make phone

    calls too—using a single slick interface. But Apple saw an opportunity, and they helped consumers to see it

    too: over a million iPhones sold the first weekend the product came out in stores. [4]

    Step 2: Brainstorm Solutions and Generate Ideas

    Once you’ve identified your customer’s problems, take the time—either with a team or on your own—to

    brainstorm solutions and opportunities that address your prospect’s specific needs. Sometimes solving

    your prospect’s problem is a straightforward task, but often with larger sales, particularly B2B sales,

    coming up with a solution that is tailored to your customer’s needs requires time and thought. No two

    prospects are the same, so no two solutions will be exactly the same. When Joel Ronning, CEO of e-

    commerce company Digital River, wants to solve customer problems and generate ideas, he sits down

    with the senior employees of his company for a brainstorming session. The technique has boosted sales,

    earned the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and led to a small business award for “best

    idea.” [5] As a salesperson, your job is to solve customer problems, not push a product. In other words,

    you’re offering solutions that include unique and different ideas, not selling products. For this reason,

    brainstorming—the process of generating ideas—is a crucial part of the selling process.

    When you go into a brainstorming session, there are several techniques that will help you generate

    effective results.

    • Know your problem or opportunity. If you’ve already completed your needs analysis, you’re off

    to a good start. According to James Feldman, a Chicago-based idea-generation consultant, “Most

    people do not identify their problem correctly” going into the brainstorming session. Once you have a

    clear idea of the problem or opportunity, set it out in specific terms to guide your brainstorm. Just

    make sure you don’t define the problem so narrowly that you’ll limit your results. Start the session by

    stating the objective. What problem do you want to solve? It also helps to frame the question in

    positive terms. For example, rather than asking “How will this company’s new computer system

    change the way they do business?” you could ask “How can this company get the most out of their new

    computer system?” [6]

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    • Generate; don’t evaluate. Brainstorming isn’t about coming up with the best, most carefully

    polished solutions. As Gary Kopervas, chief creative strategist at Backe Digital Brand Marketing, says,

    “When you’re brainstorming, don’t be perfect; be prolific.” Get your ideas out there, on paper, without

    disrupting the flow. Once you’ve exhausted your resources, you can worry about sorting out the

    stronger ideas from the weaker ones. If you’re too critical of your ideas to begin with, you’ll never

    access that part of your brain where the creative ideas are generated. In fact, Kopervas has devised the

    Five Fs of Brainstorming to guide a more effective process. They are outlined in . [7]

    Figure 8.4 Five Fs of Brainstorming

    • Push beyond the wall. At some point during every brainstorming session, whether group

    brainstorming or individual, people tend to hit a wall. Ideas flow quickly, and then they seem to stop

    altogether. Cognitive psychologist Paul Paulus says this point in the session may seem like a wall, but

    in reality it’s just “a space in [the] brain.” Pushing past this space often leads to the best ideas. [8]

    • Seek strategic stimuli. Sometimes you have to disrupt your normal routine to get the ideas

    flowing. Putting yourself in a new environment or doing something with your hands—molding clay,

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    for instance—can often be a surprising way to unlock ideas in your subconscious that your rational

    mind might otherwise block off.

    Brainstorming, as an idea-generation tool, is a proven and powerful part of creative development.

    However, keep in mind that some of the ideas you come up with in the brainstorming process will be

    stronger than others. A great idea has two important elements: it solves your customer’s problems and, in

    B2B sales, it reinforces your customer’s brand. Consider consultant Mike Rubin’s solution to a problem

    faced by one of his customers, a Harley-Davidson dealer, who wanted to boost sales and appeal to a

    broader customer base. Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson Dealership was already drawing in the “hard-

    core” bikers, but the store’s owner wanted to reach the more conservative, baby boomer demographic too.

    By turning the dealership into a destination, complete with a Harley museum and restaurant, Rubin hit

    on a solution that both addressed the customer’s problem and remained true to the Harley brand image.

    The restaurant, designed to resemble a factory cafeteria, appealed to tough bikers and families alike, and

    the museum—also a family-friendly draw—was laid out in a warehouse style that reflected the company’s

    brand image of independence, toughness, and the open road. The result? In three years, bike sales

    increased from 800 to over 1,700 annually. [9]

    Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
    They Practice What They Preach

    Ideo, a premier product development company, believes that innovation is the only path to success.

    Collaboration and idea generation are a way of life at the company that invented the Apple mouse,

    Polaroid I-Zone pocket camera, and Palm V. This article highlights how they support and encourage this

    creative culture. [10]

    Source: Fast Company

    If you are working out of your home and you don’t have a group of people with which to brainstorm, it’s

    not a problem. Get your colleagues in other areas involved by having a brainstorming conference call. Or

    have a virtual brainstorming session through your professional social network by using the discussion

    feature on LinkedIn, getting ideas from your followers on Twitter, or creating a wiki where people can

    share ideas at any time and see the ideas that others have created.

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    The bottom line is that selling is all about selling your brand (remember fromthat a brand is unique,

    consistent, and relevant and has an emotional connection with its customers). When you really

    understand your customer and their needs and motivations, you can be extremely creative about the way

    you position and tell the story of your brand.

    Step 3: Identify General and Specific Benefit Statements

    Once you have brainstormed a customer-specific solution, you want to find a way to showcase your

    solution in the best light. How will you present this idea to your prospect so that he can immediately see

    its relevance to his situation? How will you establish the value proposition you have to offer? How will you

    position your idea as a benefit to your prospect, not a self-serving sales pitch? As part of your

    preapproach, you should identify both a general and a specific statement to highlight the benefits of your

    solution or opportunity. When you deliver value to your prospect, you earn the opportunity to be a

    business partner, not just someone who is trying to sell something.

    Imagine you work for a dairy products distributor that sells wholesale to restaurants. You’ve researched

    one of your prospects, a downtown deli, and have identified one of its major problems: the company is

    losing business to the sandwich place across the street. Your prospect may not yet realize the source of the

    trouble, but you have an idea. It seems that the prospect’s competitor has cheaper sandwiches, and you

    know for a fact that part of the problem lies in the cost of the ingredients. Your prospect currently pays 10

    percent more for the cheese it gets from its current vendor than you would charge for the same product. If

    the deli started buying cheese from you, it would be able to lower the cost of its sandwiches to a more

    competitive price and draw some of the sales that are going to its competitor. You have also brainstormed

    how the deli can create a “signature sandwich”: a unique combination of meat and cheeses that only it

    offers. The sandwich provides a point of difference for the deli and a reason for previous deli customers to

    come back. In other words, you are helping to build your prospect’s brand and business with a great idea.

    This is a good solution, but you can’t walk into the deli and tell your prospect, “I want to sell you some

    cheese.” Your prospect doesn’t need cheese; he needs to increase his sales, and he’ll probably tell you to go

    away because he already has a dairy products vendor. It’s your job to frame the solution in such a way that

    your customer can easily see its relevance to his problem; you want to answer the “What’s in it for me?”

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    question early on in the sales call. [11] Begin by drafting a general benefit statement, a statement that gives

    the big picture of how your solution will meet your prospect’s need. For instance, you might say, “I have

    an idea for a way to increase your sandwich sales by 15 percent.” Your statement showcases a solution

    rather than a product.

    General benefit statements, as opposed to specific benefit statements, are broad enough that they would

    be important to most people. [12] They might address things like improving company visibility, expanding

    the business, increasing profits, or cutting costs. The specific benefit statement, on the other hand, comes

    once you’ve grabbed your prospect’s attention. It identifies the particular way your solution applies to

    your prospect, and it demonstrates that you’ve done your research and understand the needs that are

    unique to his company or situation. For instance, you might say, “Your food cost is too high, and it’s

    keeping you from competing with other businesses. I can help you cut your food costs so that you can

    afford to sell your breakfast burrito for under $2.99. Would that be something you would be interested

    in?” If you’ve done your research and brainstormed an effective solution, your benefits statements are the

    tools that will give you the power to convey that information clearly and effectively.

    Table 8.1 Benefit Statement Examples
    General Benefit Statement Specific Benefit Statement

    I have an idea that can help you lower your labor

    costs. Is that something you might be interested


    If I can prove that I can help you reduce your labor costs

    by 10 percent, would you be willing to make a


    I have some ideas about how to increase traffic to

    your Web site. Is that something that is of interest

    to you?

    If I can show you how our social networking tool can

    drive 15 percent more traffic to your Web site during key

    seasonal periods, would you be willing to consider it?

    I have some ideas about how to decrease your

    transaction time and take care of more customers

    every hour. Is that something you are interested


    If I can show you how our product can decrease your

    transaction time for each customer by at least one

    minute, would you be interested in looking at the


    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • Good salespeople don’t sell products; they sell solutions to their customers’ problems or challenges.

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    • Your research, including the questions you ask your customer, should help you identify needs and


    • Once you have identified your customers’ problems and goals, brainstorm solutions and opportunities

    that will meet their needs.

    • Knowing the best solution for your customer will help you craft a general benefits statement and

    a specific benefits statement that will help the customer envision the way your solution or opportunity

    meets his needs.

    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Think about a local bank that offers free checking accounts. How does free checking provide a solution for

    a business customer? How would this solution be different for an individual customer? How do you think

    the personal banker changes her sales pitch based on the customer?

    2. Describe a time when you made a purchase, or modified a planned purchase, because a salesperson

    revealed an opportunity that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

    3. Think of the last major purchase you made where you bought from a salesperson (not online). Did the

    salesperson adapt his or her approach to address your specific needs and concerns? If so, how?

    4. Imagine that you sell Hershey’s chocolate products to grocery stores. One of your prospects said that he

    cannot carry the complete line of Hershey’s Kisses because there isn’t enough shelf space in the store.

    Conduct a short brainstorming session to identify ten ideas that might solve this prospect’s problem.

    5. Assume you worked in the Apple Store. Identify one general benefit statement and one specific

    benefit statement for each of the following:

    o iPod

    o MacBook Pro

    o iTunes

    6. Assume that due to the recession, donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation are below expectations. The

    foundation’s director of development has asked your class to identify ideas to increase donations in the

    next three months. Work in teams of two to conduct a brainstorming session using the guidelines covered

    in this section. Each team should present their ideas to the class.

    7. [1] Paul Cherry, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really

    Wants (New York: AMACOM, 2006), 25.

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    8. [2] Mark Anthony, “The Psychology of Selling,” BNET, April

    1995,;col1 (accessed

    July 15, 2009).

    9. [3] Geoffrey James, “Solution Selling Is Dead,” BNET, October 29,

    2007,;col1 (accessed July 15, 2009).

    10. [4] Philip Elmer-DeWitt, “Munster: 500,000 New iPhones This Weekend,” Fortune, June 18,


    weekend/ (accessed July 15, 2009).

    11. [5] Allison Stein Wellner, “A Perfect Brainstorm,” Inc., October 1,

    2003, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    12. [6] Allison Stein Wellner, “A Perfect Brainstorm,” Inc., October 1,

    2003, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    13. [7] Adapted from Gary Kopervas, “More Effective Brainstorming,” presentation at Saint Joseph’s

    University, Philadelphia, PA, October 28, 2008.

    14. [8] Allison Stein Wellner, “A Perfect Brainstorm,” Inc., October 1,

    2003, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    15. [9] Donna Fen, “(Re)born to Be Wild,” Inc., January

    2006, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    16. [10] Linda Tischler, “Seven Secrets to Good Brainstorming,” Fast Company, December 19,

    2007, (accessed October 31, 2009).

    17. [11] Todd Natenberg, “What’s in It for the Prospect? Everything—If You Tell Them,”, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    18. [12] Philip Gerber, “The Sales Professional: Initial Benefit Statement,” Houston Business Review, April

    2005, (acce

    ssed July 15, 2009).

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    8.3 Identify Precall Objectives: Getting Smart about Your Sales

    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Learn how to set SMART precall objectives.

    Identifying your prospect’s need is only part of your preapproach research. There’s still more

    research and planning for you to do before you meet with or speak to the customer.

    Determine Your Objectives

    If you haven’t determined what you hope to achieve before going into your sales call, it will be difficult to

    figure out what to say once you arrive or once you have your prospect on the phone.

    Setting precall objectives is a strategically important step. If you have clear goals, you will be more

    confident and appear more organized, and it’s more likely that you will see results. Your customers are

    busy people, and you don’t want to waste their time. They will appreciate your organization and will be

    more likely to trust your judgment if you come prepared. You also don’t want to waste your time or your

    company’s time. According to Hoovers, the average sales call costs a company nearly $400! [1]

    As you plan your meeting, ask yourself this question: “What will success look like for this call?” [2] That

    may seem like a question with a straightforward answer, but success doesn’t always mean closing the sale.

    In some situations, you’ll experience a one-call close, but with larger sales, particularly in B2B sales,

    the sales cycle, or the length of time it takes to go from the first contact with the customer to closing the

    sale, is generally longer—sometimes even taking up to a year or longer. Consider Telegraph Hill Robes, a

    San Francisco-based company that sells bathrobes to upscale hotels with spas. Buying enough bathrobes

    to stock a hotel spa is a large investment, one that most customers have to carefully consider. The sale has

    to clear with two contacts at every company: the general manager and the head of housekeeping. As a

    result, when Telegraph Hill first started selling its product in 1996, its average sales cycle was two years! [3]

    If you know that you are facing a longer sales cycle, the goal of your initial call might be gathering and

    conveying specific information to move forward in the sales process or further qualify your prospect.

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    According to Gary Duncan, principal of the sales training organization Leadership Connections, “In more

    complex sales it’s realistic to set a precall objective of establishing rapport and trust, making new contacts

    in the organization, qualifying your prospect’s budget, or discovering what your prospect’s decision-

    making process is. For instance, you might decide you want to find out who your prospect’s current

    vendors are, any issues your prospect has with the services she is receiving, and what her goals are for

    future purchases.” [4] You should also consider your prospect’s objectives: what outcome is she hoping for

    from this call?

    Sometimes, setting strategic, information-gathering objectives may actually help you shorten your overall

    sales cycle. Take Acumen, a company that sells high-capability accounting software to corporations.

    Originally, the company’s sales cycle lasted around nine months. However, once the company became

    more strategic in its precall planning, designing a system of rigorous qualifying questions that its

    salespeople had to resolve before making a sales pitch, Acumen actually decreased its average sales cycle

    to somewhere between three and six months. Asking detailed questions during early sales calls allowed

    the company to cut back on the time it wasted brainstorming solutions and making sales pitches for

    underqualified leads. [5]

    Make Your Objectives SMART

    So it’s early in the process of a complex sale, and you are setting your goals for your next meeting with

    your customer. You know it will primarily be an information-gathering session because you need to know

    more before you can propose a workable, specific solution. However, if you go into the meeting with a

    vague plan like “I want to find out more about my prospect’s business,” you won’t accomplish

    much. [6] Instead, you might come up with a goal similar to the one mentioned earlier: “By the end of this

    meeting, I want to know who my prospect’s current vendors are, what issues or challenges he faces with

    this vendor’s services, and what three priorities he has for future purchases.” This objective, like all

    effective precall objectives, is SMART. That is, the goal is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic,

    and Time-bound. [7]

    • Specific. The goal should clearly define which actions you want your customer to take, what

    information you hope to convey, and/or what information you hope to learn from your sales call. In

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    the example cited by Gary Duncan, the salesperson is setting out to gather three specific pieces of


    • Measurable. You want to be able to measure the results of your efforts so that you’ll know at the end

    of your sales call how close you came to achieving what you set out to do. This will help you strategize

    about which actions to take next. The first two parts of the example are measurable with a simple yes

    or no (Did I find out the names of the current vendors? Did I identify issues and challenges my

    customer has encountered?), and the last part of the goal is quantifiable (How many of my customer’s

    priorities was I able to help him articulate?).

    • Actionable. If a goal is actionable or attainable, it’s something you can actually do. It might involve

    asking questions, explaining something, or suggesting something. Whatever the case, it should be

    something on which you have the ability to act. In some instances, the actionable goal might be as

    simple as closing the sale: “By the end of the meeting, I plan to convince my prospect to sign a


    • Realistic. If you set your goal too high or try to move your sales process along too quickly, you will

    only be setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Ask yourself, “What can I reasonably hope

    to accomplish given the current situation with my prospect?” If you decide you want to get

    appointments with ten top people in the organization during your first contact with the company, or if

    you intend to close a major account by your first call, you will probably not be able to achieve what

    you set out to do.

    • Time-bound. Not only should you know what you hope to achieve, but you should also

    know when you hope to have it accomplished. In the example objective, your time frame is “by the

    end of the sales call.” Other times, you might set a specific date—for example, “Get the prospect to

    agree to schedule a face-to-face meeting by the 15th.”

    Figure 8.5 SMART Objectives

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    SMART objectives give you the power to sell strategically by setting goals you can achieve. Another

    powerful tool is the simple act of putting your goals down in writing. Not only are you likely to make a

    stronger commitment to your goals when you have them on paper, but you will also be able to use your

    written goals for reference later on—even during the sales call if you need to. [8]

    Figure 8.6 Examples of SMART Objectives

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    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • It’s important to know exactly what you want to accomplish when you go into a sales meeting.

    • The goals for your sales call should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound: SMART.

    • Setting SMART goals will help you direct your approach, take action, and measure the results of your

    sales call.

    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Which of the following is a SMART goal for your first sales call on a prospect to sell car insurance?

    Rewrite each of the other goals to be SMART.

    o Identify current insurance carrier and conduct needs analysis by Friday.

    o Call the customer and ask some questions to learn about his current situation.

    o Conduct online research about the customer and understand why he chose his current insurance


    o Call at least six new prospects by the end of the day today.

    2. Imagine you sell Web site consulting services and are going into a sales call with an existing customer. You

    want to expand the selling relationship in two ways: by extending your contract with the customer for

    another two years and by getting referrals for the network support department. Identify your SMART goal

    for this sales call.

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    3. Assume you are a financial advisor and you are meeting with a prospect for the first time. Identify a

    SMART objective that you would set prior to your first meeting.

    4. Describe the difference in the sales cycles between selling jeans to a college student compared to selling a

    home to a newly married couple. What impact will that have on your SMART objectives?

    5. You are a sales rep for medical supplies and just took on a new prospect, Springfield Nursing Homes, a

    regional chain of twenty-two nursing homes. You have a contact, but you are not clear if he is a decision

    maker. In the past, the company has allowed each nursing home to make its own purchasing decisions,

    but it is moving toward a more centralized approach. This is an excellent opportunity for you to present

    your comprehensive product line. You are preparing for your first call, and your sales manager has asked

    you to review your SMART objectives for the call with him. What are your SMART objectives for the call?

    How you will present them to your sales manager?

    6. [1] Gary Duncan, “Every Sales Call Requires an Objective and Decision,” Denver Business Journal, October

    13, 2006, (accessed July 15,


    7. [2] American Institute of Public Certified Accountants, “Successful Selling Tips: The Sales


    sed July 15, 2009).

    8. [3] Susan Greco, “The Need for Speed,” Inc., April

    2007, (accessed July 15,


    9. [4] Gary Duncan, “Every Sales Call Requires an Objective and Decision,” Denver Business Journal, October

    13, 2006, (accessed July 15,


    10. [5] Susan Greco, “The Need for Speed,” Inc., April

    2007, (accessed July 15,


    11. [6] Skills Connection, “How to Get Better Results from your Sales Meetings,” video, March 3,

    2008, (accessed July 15, 2009).

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    12. [7] Virtual Strategist, “How to Set SMART Goals,” video, M3 Planning, October 17,

    2008, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    13. [8] Roy Chitwood, “Every Sales Call Must Have a Clear Objective,” Puget Sound Business Journal,

    September 26,

    1997, (accessed July 15,


    8.4 Prepare Your Presentation
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Discuss key elements of presentation preparation.

    Once you’ve done your research, brainstormed your solution, and set your SMART objectives, you’ve

    got a good foundation to move forward. The only homework left to do is planning your sales

    presentation. Even if you have a stellar solution to offer, and even though your objectives may be

    clearly defined, you can’t make your sales pitch hoping to just “wing it.” A well-planned presentation

    can often be the thing that makes or breaks a sale. If your customer sees you as well prepared (i.e., if

    you have thoughtfully tailored your style, presentation materials, and agenda to match what you

    know about your contact and his company culture), you will go far in establishing a strong rapport

    with your customer and earning his trust and respect.

    Four Ps of Presentation Preparation

    Preparing your sales presentation can seem like an overwhelming task. How long should you speak, and

    how much time should you allow for questions? Should you use demonstrations or examples? How formal

    should you be? What points should you address first? Here are four general guidelines to keep in mind as

    you begin the planning process.

    Prioritize Your Agenda

    Your presentation should be well organized. Think about how you want to lead in, when you will

    introduce key information in your presentation, and when you will use product demonstrations. When

    Tom Szaky, CEO of the garden products company TerraCycle, gives a sales presentation, he prepares by

    drawing up an agenda that prioritizes the information he wants to convey and arranging it in a strategic

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    order. For example, Szaky knows that if he presents his product near the beginning of the presentation,

    his customers will make their buying decision before they know what makes TerraCycle unique, so he

    starts off all of his presentations by talking about the features that set his company apart. [1] Not only will

    prioritizing your agenda give you a strategic edge, but it will also help your customer to see that you are

    organized. Bring copies of your agenda to distribute at the beginning of the meeting so that your

    customers can follow along with you as you give your presentation.

    Personalize It

    At this phase in the preapproach you should have some knowledge about your contacts in the company,

    and you should understand the company’s particular culture and priorities. As you plan your

    presentation, you can use this knowledge to tailor your approach to your prospect. What tone will you set

    for the presentation? Is your prospect a “fun” company that would respond well to humor or interactive

    opportunities during the presentation? Are you presenting to a group of busy executives who would value

    an efficient, no-nonsense approach? Think about the level of formality your customers will expect. This

    will dictate how you dress, how you speak, and how you design your visual aids and demonstrations.

    When Tom Szaky gives a presentation to buyers from Wal-Mart (one of his biggest customers), he dresses

    casually, perhaps wearing a corduroy jacket, a John Deere cap, and frayed shoes. [2] Wal-Mart presents

    itself as a no-frills company, and this attitude carries over into its corporate culture. Understanding this

    aspect of the company and the contacts with whom he’s working—representatives from the garden

    department—Szaky adapts his approach to match.
    Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
    Do Your Homework…Even When You Know Your Customer

    Cris Cavanaugh, now a CustomerCentric selling affiliate, learned the hard way that assuming in selling is

    not a good thing. He was asked by a customer to do a presentation at a conference. Cavanaugh accepted

    and gave a confident presentation. He failed miserably because the audience was not as well educated on

    the topic, so the audience was left confused. Cavanaugh now asks questions and gets input before every

    presentation because he realizes that every audience, just like every customer, is not the same. [3]

    Prepare Illustrations

    People respond best to things they can see and experience for themselves. Your sales presentation won’t

    be complete without product demonstrations and visual aids to inspire your customers and help them see

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    the value of your product firsthand. As you develop this aspect of your presentation, consider slides or

    handouts that will reinforce key points. Consider the things that will best help this particular customer

    visualize your solution as a winning one. For example, in one presentation to Wal-Mart buyers, Szaky

    displayed a binder full of newspaper clippings in which TerraCycle had helped Wal-Mart generate positive

    publicity. He also used a short video and brought in a live plant grown with his potting mix. In addition,

    because his contact at the company had asked to see what the product might look like on the sales floor,

    Szaky brought in a merchandizing mockup to help his buyers visualize TerraCycle’s potting mix in their

    stores. [4]


    Finally, once you’ve created your presentation, practice it. Practice in front of a mirror, deliver the

    presentation to family members and colleagues (if you can get a willing audience!), and run over your

    agenda until you know it inside and out. [5] You want the presentation to come off smoothly, but you also

    want it to seem natural. Even experienced salespeople like Tom Szaky practice a presentation—perfecting

    their pacing and delivery and making sure they know their stuff—before going into a sales call. [6]
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y

    As you plan your sales presentation, keep four things in mind:

    1. Prioritize and organize your agenda.

    2. Personalize the presentation to match your customer’s needs and preferences.

    3. Prepare visual aids and product demonstrations to illustrate your point and engage your audience.

    4. Practice your delivery.
    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Think of ways you might personalize a sales presentation for the following situations:

    o You are a public relations manager pitching a story about your company’s new chic waterproof

    boots to the editorial staff of a fashion magazine.

    o You are a commercial real estate agent making a presentation to top-level managers at an

    accounting firm for the new location of their downtown office.

    o You are a video game developer presenting your newest game concept to a small start-up

    company that makes video games.

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    2. Assume you are the director of development for Jessica’s Haven, a nonprofit organization that provides

    support to children with terminal illnesses and their families. You have identified Gymboree as a

    prospective corporate donor. Develop an agenda for a sales call to learn about how Gymboree might

    support Jessica’s Haven and share information with the company about who the nonprofit serves and

    how it operates.

    3. If you were the salesperson for Red Bull and you were calling on a major grocery store chain, identify

    three potential illustrations that you could use during your presentation.

    4. Describe how your preapproach would differ (in dress, tone, conversation) for each of these


    o Selling pharmaceuticals to a doctor

    o Meeting with the dairy farmers of Wisconsin to sell cheese packaging

    o Calling on a professor to sell textbooks

    o Selling computer software to a start-up liquor manufacturer

    5. [1] Stephanie Clifford, “Practice, Practice” Inc., February

    2007, July 15,


    6. [2] Stephanie Clifford, “Practice, Practice” Inc., February

    2007, July 15,


    7. [3] “Approach Every Presentation as If It Were Your First,” Selling Power Presentations eNewsletter,

    February 20, 2006, (accessed March

    16, 2010).

    8. [4] Stephanie Clifford, “Practice, Practice” Inc., February

    2007, July 15,


    9. [5] Lahle Wolfe, “How Do You Practice Your Sales Presentation?” online discussion board,,

    June 11, 2008,

    presentation.htm#gB3 (accessed July 15, 2009).

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    10. [6] Stephanie Clifford, “Practice, Practice” Inc., February

    2007, July 15,


    8.5 Selling U: Six Power-Packed Tools to Let the Right People
    Know about Your Brand

    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Learn about six different ways to get your cover letter and résumé to the right people.

    Now that you understand how preparation can help you be successful in selling, let’s go back to

    selling the most important brand of all—you! In the Selling Usection in , you did your research,

    identified and qualified your twenty-five target companies, and obtained the contact information for

    at least two key people at each organization. Of course, there is still some homework to do before you

    see the payoff of securing an interview. As Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University’s Center

    for Labor Market Studies, says, “You’re never going to find anything unless you apply.” [1] However,

    you can think of this step in the process as the exciting part. Consider what happens when a company

    releases a new product. The company doesn’t keep the news to themselves, discreetly shipping the

    product out to stores with the hopes that the right buyers will just happen to find it. Instead, it

    leverages every resource it has to get the word out. Think about the new Prius. Toyota took

    advantage of publicity surrounding the car’s fuel efficiency to generate buzz with newspapers, radio,

    and television reporting on Prius-related press releases. Toyota leveraged Web resources (e.g., blogs,

    discussion forums, product fan sites) and highlighted positive product reviews in its press releases

    and online. [2]

    When a company has designed a new product or brand, it is excited to let people know about it. The

    more enthusiastically it shares the news, the better the payoff. The same should be true of your job

    search. You are a new brand that is about to go on the market, you know you have unique qualities to

    offer, and you should be excited to let other people know this about you, too. Sending the news to

    potential employers at your target companies is a good way to start. If you take advantage of this

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    tool, in combination with five other power-packed tools for getting the word out, you will be

    surprised by the positive results you see.

    Power-Packed Tool #1: Professional Social Networking

    You learned about the power of networking, and especially professional social networking, in . More and

    more companies are turning to professional social networks such as LinkedIn to identify potential

    candidates for jobs. But it’s not enough to simply create a profile on LinkedIn. To be noticed on a massive

    professional networking site, just as in the real world, you have to stand out. That means completing your

    profile, adding content, participating in discussions, and linking to other content, such as your blog. Also,

    share your content by joining groups on LinkedIn, such as The Power of Selling (a group of selling

    professionals to support you in this class and beyond), Sales and Marketing Executives, and, or other groups in your area of interest. These groups include thousands of

    professionals with whom you can connect and network. And ask people such as supervisors from your job,

    internship, or volunteer organization; professors; or other professionals to speak on your behalf by

    posting a recommendation about you.

    Powerful Profile

    Meet Mig Pascual on LinkedIn by clicking on his profile using the link below. Mig uses content to build his

    personal brand by providing complete experience, including topical videos, slide shows, and book

    recommendations to demonstrate his skills. In addition, he has several recommendations from

    supervisors and colleagues. This powerful profile works—just take a look at the number of connections

    Mig has in his network. You can connect with Mig and ask him to join your network by clicking on “View

    Full Profile” (you will need to create a profile before you can ask Mig to join your network).

    Power-Packed Tool #2: Direct Mail

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    Direct mail is a powerful but often overlooked source you have for getting your cover letter and résumé to

    people who are making hiring decisions. Now that you’ve done your research and identified your twenty-

    five target companies and key decision makers at each one, it’s time to put that information to work.

    You might think that sending letters to companies that don’t currently have open jobs posted might be a

    waste of time. The fact is that hiring managers don’t like to post jobs, as it takes time and energy to come

    up with the job description, clear it through all the proper channels, sort through résumés and cover

    letters, and interview potential employees. This means that a number of your contacts may have open

    positions they haven’t yet publicized, and they would be delighted if a qualified candidate like you could

    save them the hassle of a drawn out hiring process. And if you’ve done everything correctly (e.g.,

    addressed your cover letter individually to key hiring managers, not just human resources), but your letter

    doesn’t end up in the right person’s hands, your contact at the company may very well pass your résumé

    on to someone else who would be a better fit. (“Hey Dave, is your department still looking for a marketing

    assistant?”) If you want your letter to stand out even more, consider sending it to some top prospective

    employers with a return receipt requested or via FedEx. It’s a good way to ensure that the recipient

    received your cover letter and résumé and there’s a good chance your letter will get opened quickly.

    Sending your cover letter and résumé to several people at your twenty-five target companies will set you

    apart from your competitors because very few people send information by mail these days. Think about

    the number of e-mails you get in your in-box daily. A letter stands out, and the best part about sending

    direct mail to your target companies is that it’s easy to do. You can use the spreadsheet you created in to

    easily personalize cover letters and envelopes to the people at your target companies by using the mail

    merge feature. [3] Watch the video below to see how it’s done. Keep in mind that hiring managers are

    busy people, and sometimes letters get lost or forgotten. If you don’t get the response you were hoping for,

    send your letter to the same people in your mail merge again in three to four weeks. [4]

    Power-Packed Tool #3: Company Web Sites

    During the preapproach to a sales call, a good salesperson spends time at her prospective company’s Web

    site, researching the organization and its key people in greater depth so that she can go into the meeting

    knowledgeable about basic company facts and informed of any recent developments. This is also an

    important technique when researching prospective employers—and it’s a task that requires minimal effort

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    on your part. If one of your target companies contacts you for an interview, the knowledge you gained

    from this Web site research will prove useful.

    The online job boards for your twenty-five target companies are another avenue for getting the word out

    about your brand. It doesn’t hurt to apply for published positions, particularly if you take steps (using

    techniques described here and in other chapters) to set yourself apart from the majority of other

    applicants. If the Web site gives you the option, sign up for e-mail alerts that will let you know when new

    positions open up. Company Web sites are excellent resources for finding advertised positions because the

    job descriptions posted there are often more detailed than the descriptions you might be able to find

    through general online job boards. [5] Moreover, many companies post open positions only on their Web

    sites to avoid the cost of posting on other job boards.

    Power-Packed Tool #4: Online Job Boards

    The benefit of online job boards like,, and Yahoo! HotJobs is that they

    make it a snap to perform searches by industry and keyword, and they often return a wealth of results. In

    fact, Internet job boards have recently become one of the fastest growing online categories. [6] These sites

    can be an excellent avenue for learning about career opportunities in your target industry, and they

    should be an ongoing part of your efforts to find the right employer. [7] These sites might help you find job

    opportunities through companies that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered working for, and they will

    certainly keep you informed about the kinds of positions for which people are currently hiring in your

    industry and the particular qualifications for which many employers are searching.

    Most sites will allow you to set up e-mail alerts (customized by your chosen keywords) so that new job

    postings come to your in-box regularly. It’s best to enter as many keywords as you can think of that are

    relevant to your interests and experiences so that you don’t miss anything. For instance, if you want a job

    in advertising, you would choose advertising as a keyword, but you could also list words

    like promotions, account executive, account manager, account coordinator, customer services, brand

    manager, advertising agency, and social media. [8] You might also consider creating a separate e-mail

    account to keep track of your job-related e-mails, particularly if you have subscribed to alerts through

    several job search Web sites. In fact, it’s a good idea to go through a number of Web sites so that you can

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    stay informed about as many opportunities as possible. You can go through general job boards like or, industry-specific job boards like, location-specific

    job boards like, or a combination of these options.

    Table 8.2 Online Job Boards

    Career information and job board

    directed at college students

    Job board, internship opportunities,

    and information on career planning


    Job board, articles, and career

    planning advice

    One of the largest job boards on the

    Internet; includes career planning



    Job board and career planning


    Location-specific job boards

    Yahoo! HotJobs

    Large job board with articles on job


    Riley Guide

    Job board and career planning

    information and resources

    Industry Specific

    Association Job Boards

    Includes links to Web sites of

    professional associations and job


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    Job board for sales and marketing


    Accounting Jobs Today

    Job board for careers

    inaccountingand finance

    Jobs in the Money
    Job board foraccountingand finance
    Job board foraccountingpositions

    Job board



    Job board formarketing; includes

    Job board formarketing

    Job board formarketing,advertising,

    and PR

    Job board forfashion,apparel,

    Job board formarketing

    Source: Adapted from Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice

    Hall, 2008), 221–23.

    Although it’s important to use direct mail when submitting a cold-contact application, when you apply for

    positions you find on online job boards, you should apply through the Web site using the format they

    prescribe. Just make sure you include a cover letter when you submit your résumé. Hiring managers are

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    likely to throw away résumés that come in without cover letters because a cover letter is what allows you

    to personalize your application, sending the message that you care enough to make an effort in your job

    search. Finally, keep in mind that while many job seekers rely entirely on online job boards for their

    searches, and while these sites can be a good avenue for learning about opportunities, they are not an end-

    all method. They are strongest when used in combination with your direct-mail campaign and the other

    power-packed tools mentioned in this chapter.

    Power-Packed Tool #5: Get Out There

    Finally, when you want to let people know you are on the market and have unique skills to offer, consider

    integrating a number of methods discussed in other chapters of this book to let people see your face.

    Phone calls, letters, and online communications are critical to your job search, but nothing creates an

    impression and establishes personal connections like face-to-face interaction.

    • Informational interviews. (See the Selling U section in .) Develop a list of contacts that work in

    your field of interest and get in touch with several of them to ask about setting up an informational

    interview: “You do what I would like to do. Could I come in and learn about how you got into the

    industry?” People naturally love sharing their knowledge and expertise, so most of your contacts will

    be more than willing to help. [9] Informational interviews are excellent resources for establishing

    connections and generating job leads.

    • Mentors. You are never too young nor too old to have a mentor. Mentors can help you develop your

    knowledge and skills, build your network, and learn inside information about working in your chosen

    field. [10] Mentors are your allies: the people who most want to see you succeed—and the ones who

    often have the resources to help you do so.

    • Networking. (See the Selling U section in .) It’s impossible to overstate the importance of building

    your network. Online tools like LinkedIn are powerful resources, but face-to-face networking with

    personal and professional connections alike can generate surprising results. Who knows, your stylist

    might tell you, “Oh yeah, my brother-in-law is in sales. You might want to talk to him about a job. I’m

    not sure if he has any jobs open, but I’ll give you his number so you can touch base with him.”

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    • Internships and professional organizations. (See the Selling Usection in .) Internships are an

    excellent way to network, learn more about working in your chosen field, gain valuable experience,

    and sometimes get your foot in the door at a company. Another way to get exposure in any industry is

    by joining and getting involved in professional organizations. In, you will learn more about the value

    of applying for internships and joining professional organizations.

    Power-Packed Tool #6: Follow-Up

    Following up helps you maximize your efforts after networking, applying for an online job, sending direct

    mail, contacting someone via networking (online or offline), and visiting a job fair. You will leave a good

    impression, help your contacts to remember you, and set yourself apart from other applicants. Follow-up

    can sometimes have surprising benefits, so even when a door seems closed, make the effort to send a

    personal note or thank-you. Consider a college graduate who integrated follow-up into her job search.

    Shortly after applying for a public relations position at one of her target companies, she received a letter

    saying the position had been filled. Anika followed up on this letter with a note, thanking the interviewer

    for her time and mentioning how much she had enjoyed their meeting and her visit to the company. A

    week later, she got the position—the candidate the company originally hired had changed her mind.

    Because she was the only applicant who had followed up, she stood out, and the company hired her as a


    Consider these techniques that will allow you to make the most of your follow-up efforts:

    • Send thank-you notes. Send a personal thank-you note to everyone in your online network who

    gives you a referral and to anyone with whom you have an informational interview. [11] Also, send a

    thank-you note or e-mail to contacts you meet at career fairs. It’s best to send a thank-you e-mail the

    same day, then follow up with a handwritten note. When you write your handwritten note and mail it

    the day of your meeting or interview, your contact will usually receive it the next day. And do it in a

    timely manner. Don’t let weeks go by—send your notes within a day so that they arrive while you are

    still fresh in your contact’s mind.

    • Call. Call your twenty-five target companies one week after you mail out your cover letter and

    résumé. If you are sending your direct mailings to at least two contacts at each company, it won’t be

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    realistic to follow up with everyone. Pick the key contact at your target company—usually the hiring

    manager in your targeted department—with whom you want to follow up and make sure you actually

    get her on the phone when you call. If the call goes to voice mail, you can leave a message, but try back

    again until you reach her.

    It’s also important to keep thorough records of your communications with your target companies and

    contacts. Use the Excel spreadsheet you created for your mailing list to record the date you mailed your

    cover letters and résumés, the date you followed up, the result of your follow-up, and any future actions

    you need to take (e.g., call back in one week). You can use a similar system when you follow up with your

    online job board applications. Postings listed on online job boards don’t always provide the contact info

    for individuals at the company, but whenever they do, make sure you follow up with this person by phone

    one week after you have submitted your résumé and cover letter. [12]

    Follow-up is an opportunity to take advantage of the research you’ve been doing and any information

    you’ve gathered from tracking a company’s RSS feeds or Google News Alerts. For instance, say you want

    to work in the entertainment industry and you’re following up with a hiring manager at Epic Records.

    You’ve found out through the company’s RSS feed that they’ve recently released an online collection of

    bonus tracks, live recordings, and previously unreleased songs by the group Incubus, [13] so you mention

    this to the hiring manager when you follow up about your application. This lets the hiring manager know

    that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in the company, which helps establish a

    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • You will never see the payoff from your potential employer research unless you get the word out. Let

    people know you are on the market for a job.

    • The most important step to ensure your résumé reaches decision makers is direct mailing your cover

    letter and résumé to contacts at each of your twenty-five target companies—a task you can accomplish

    easily with a mail merge.

    • Keep an eye on the Web sites of your twenty-five target companies to find out about new job postings

    and stay updated on developments at each company.

    • Online job boards will let you find out about new advertised positions daily and can help you identify

    opportunities you might not have otherwise considered.

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    • Use networking sites like LinkedIn to make new contacts and connect with people in your industry.

    • Follow up—after sending a direct mailing, after meeting someone at a career fair, and so on—to

    strengthen relationships with people that can help you find a job.

    • Leverage techniques mentioned in other chapters—informational interviews, mentoring relationships,

    networking, internships, and professional organization memberships—to help get the word out about

    your brand.

    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Visit the Web sites of five of the companies on your target twenty-five list. Sign up for a job agent and

    complete a profile, if those are options on each Web site.

    2. Visit three online job boards. Sign up for a job agent and complete a profile, if those are options offered

    on the sites.

    3. Identify at least one person with whom you can meet for an informational interview. Contact the person

    and meet with him to learn about how he got into the business and ask him for additional contacts with

    whom you can network.

    4. Identify at least two professional organizations that may be of interest to you. Visit the Web sites to see

    their upcoming events and plan to attend a meeting or event for each one. Explore membership

    information and learn about the benefits and cost of membership. Join each organization’s group on

    LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to keep up-to-date on events and discussions.

    5. [1] Steven Greenhouse, “Bright Spot in Downturn: New Hiring Is Robust,” New York Times, May 5,

    2009, July 15, 2009).

    6. [2] “Toyota Promotes Prius Buzz with New Forum,” Company Car Driver, June 16,

    2009, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    7. [3] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 142.

    8. [4] Kim Richmond, “10 Ways to Get the Word Out about Your Brand,” presentation in the How to Market

    Yourself as a Brand to Get the Job You Want Workshop Series, Upper Merion Township Library, King of

    Prussia, PA, June 1, 2009.

    9. [5] LT International, “Job Searching: The Importance of Examining Company Websites,” BNET, January

    2008, (accessed July 15, 2009).

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    10. [6] Sarah Radwanick, “Job Search Ranks as Fastest Growing U.S. Online Category in 2008,”Reuters, January

    22, 2009,

    2009+PRN20090122 (accessed July 15, 2009).

    11. [7] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 133.

    12. [8] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 139.

    13. [9] “Informational Interviewing Tutorial: Learn about How an Informational Interview Should Be an

    Integral Part of Your Networking and Job-Hunting Plan,” Quintessential

    Careers, (accessed July 15, 2009).

    14. [10] Kim Richmond, “10 Ways to Get the Word Out about Your Brand,” presentation in the How to Market

    Yourself as a Brand to Get the Job You Want Workshop Series, Upper Merion Township Library, King of

    Prussia, PA, June 1, 2009.

    15. [11] Allison Doyle, “Informational Interview: What Is an Informational Interview and How It Can Help Your

    Career,”, (accessed July 15,


    16. [12] Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 145.

    17. [13] “Epic Records to Release The Vault—A Comprehensive Look and Listen inside Incubus,” Reuters, June

    2, 2009,

    July 15, 2009).

    8.6 Review and Practice
    Power Wrap-Up
    Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand the preapproach in selling.

    • You can describe the role of key and target accounts.

    • You can complete a precall planning worksheet.

    • You can list resources to use to conduct preapproach research about prospects.

    • You can identify needs and opportunities of prospects.

    • You can generate ideas for your prospects in an effective brainstorming session.

    • You create general and specific benefit statements.

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    • You can determine SMART precall objectives.

    • You can explore six different ways to get your cover letter and résumé to the right people.
    T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E ( A N S W E R S A R E B E L O W )

    1. What is the difference between a key account and a target account?

    2. Why is a precall planning worksheet completed?

    3. Why are customer demographics important in B2B selling?

    4. What is the best source of prospects?

    5. What is the role of trade journals in researching your prospects?

    6. What are some important pieces of information you should learn when you are researching a prospect?

    7. List and explain at least three sources of information you would use when researching your prospect.

    8. Should you filter your ideas during the brainstorming process? Why or why not?

    9. Name two techniques of effective brainstorming.

    10. Create a general benefit statement to use if you were selling Starbucks coffee to your friend.

    11. What do the letters SMART stand for?

    12. Write a SMART objective for your first meeting with a prospect during which you want to learn who is the

    decision maker.

    13. Name at least one thing you should do to prepare for your presentation to a prospect.

    14. Name at least three ways to get your cover letter and résumé to the right people.
    P O W E R ( R O L E ) P L A Y

    Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Following are two roles that are involved in the

    same selling situation; one role is that of the sales manager and the other is that of the salesperson. This

    will give you the opportunity to think about this selling situation from the point of view of both the sales

    manager and the salesperson.

    Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles

    in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and role-play in

    groups or individually.

    Green and Bright

    Role: Sales Manager for GreenWay Lighting Company

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    You are the sales manager for GreenWay Lighting. Your product, LED lighting, can save companies up to 30

    percent on their lighting bills starting in the first year after purchase. Target customers are industrial

    companies, such as manufacturers, that have large facilities. One of your sales reps would like to have a

    brainstorming session with you, the marketing director, product manager, and several other sales reps

    before approaching a new prospect, JR Papermills. Before the brainstorming session, you meet with the

    sales rep to discuss the following:

    • What information has the sales rep gathered about JR Papermills, and why is the company a good


    • What information has the sales rep gathered about the person with whom he is meeting at JR Papermills?

    • What are the SMART objectives that the sales rep has developed for the first sales call?

    Role: GreenWay Lighting Sales Rep

    Your company markets and sells energy-efficient LED lighting to businesses and other facilities. You have

    qualified JR Papermills as a prospect due to the size of the facility (500,000 square feet), number of lights

    (one million), and plans for expansion (new manufacturing plant planned to be operational by the end of

    next year). You’ve done your homework about the company, and you learned that they always like to

    invest in products that give them a return in the first year after purchase. You want to set up a

    brainstorming session with several people in the company to help develop ideas you can use when you

    approach this prospect.

    • How will you convince your sales manager that JR Papermills is a promising prospect that is worth taking

    the time for a brainstorming session?

    • If you want to gather more information about the prospect, where would you go to learn more about the

    company? Where would you go to learn more about the person with whom you are going to meet?

    • How would you use your preapproach research to structure a brainstorming session?
    P U T Y O U R P O W E R T O W O R K : S E L L I N G U A C T I V I T I E S

    1. Join at least three new groups on LinkedIn (you should have already set up your profile). Then, add at

    least three additional people to your network every week based on discussions that take place in the

    groups. Participate in discussions and keep in touch with the new people in your network.

    2. Use the list of twenty-five target companies you developed in and do a test mail merge to see how it


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    T E S T Y O U R P O W E R K N O W L E D G E A N S W E R S

    1. Target account is a new, qualified prospect. Key account is an existing customer that is or has the

    potential to be a significant source of sales.

    2. It is an organized way to research and learn about your qualified prospect. It is the information gathered

    here that helps you plan your approach and presentation and the questions you want to explore.

    3. B2B selling requires understanding your prospect as well as their customers, which usually include the

    end user.

    4. Existing customers.

    5. Trade journals can give you insights about trends in the industry, your prospect’s company, and even the

    prospect himself.

    6. About the company: demographics, financial performance, company news; about the company’s

    customers: demographics, size of customer base, what customers are saying about the prospect; about

    the current buying situation: type of purchase, competitors and current provider, current pricing; about

    the contact person: title and role in the company, professional background, personal information,

    essential problem your contact needs to solve, prospect’s motivation for buying,

    7. Online databases (e.g., Hoovers), business directories (e.g.,, trade journals, company

    Web site, LinkedIn, blogs, social networks, company employees, complementary and competitive


    8. During brainstorming, it’s best not to filter ideas in order to generate as many ideas as possible. Then, the

    ideas should be prioritized and modified in order to be implemented.

    9. Know your problem or opportunity; generate, don’t evaluate; push beyond the wall; use strategic stimuli.

    10. I have an idea that will refresh your mind and give you a different environment to work in. Does that

    sound like something you would be interested in?

    11. Specific, measurable, actionable (or achievable), realistic, time-bound

    12. Learn who is the decision maker and who are influencers for the buying decision at this account by the

    end of the first sales call.

    13. Prioritize the agenda, personalize the presentation, prepare illustrations, and practice.

    14. Professional social networking, direct mail, company Web sites, online job boards, follow-up, and getting

    out there (networking, informational interviews, professional organizations, internships).

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    Chapter 9

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    The Approach: The Power of Connecting

    Video Ride-Along with Tonya Murphy, General Sales Manager at Radio
    Station WBEN-FM
    You heard Tonya Murphy talk about the importance of the preapproach in the video ride-along

    in Chapter 8 “The Preapproach: The Power of Preparation”. Now she wants to provide you with

    insights about the moment of truth…the first time you actually come in contact with the customer. The

    approach is that critical step when the customer decides if she is going to be open to hearing your


    Ride along with Tonya and hear her tips about what it takes to make a successful approach. Based on

    Tonya’s experience, you only have fifteen seconds to win over the customer. You need a strong


    9.1 First Impressions Make All the Difference
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Understand the role of first impressions and the importance of a strong approach.

    When Paul McCartney returned to New York in July 2009 to play a concert at Citi Field, the new

    stadium built in the place of Shea Stadium where The Beatles first invaded the American music scene

    in 1965, the atmosphere was electrifying. He started the concert by saying, “Welcome to the new Citi

    Field Stadium. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.… I have a feeling we’re going to have a little

    bit of fun tonight.” [1] Then he played The Beatles’ classic “Drive My Car,” and the crowd went wild. [2]

    Paul McCartney didn’t need to talk to the audience. In fact, people didn’t come to hear him speak at

    all; they came to hear him sing. But Paul McCartney clearly understands the power of a strong

    approach. His brief welcome, tip to the past, and promise for a great show were all part of his short

    but effective sales approach. While you might not think of Paul McCartney as a salesperson, his

    concerts, just like those of other rock stars and recording artists, are actually sales presentations for

    his new songs and albums.

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    In all types of selling, the approach precedes the sales presentation. In the case of the concert, you

    probably already know Paul McCartney and what to expect from him. But when you are meeting

    someone for the first time in sales, your approach won’t be successful unless you how you make a

    good first impression.

    First Things First

    “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” This is a saying you’ve probably heard many times

    before. First impressions are quickly formed, difficult to change, and can have a lasting effect. [3] Think of

    a first date, your first day of high school or college, or any job interview you have gone into. You were

    probably nervous because you knew the importance of making a good first impression. Similarly, the sales

    approach is the most intimidating point of the sales process for many salespeople because they know that

    the decision to buy or not to buy can often start with this initial contact. The approach is your first phone

    call to your prospect, the moment on the sales floor where you walk over to a new customer and say,

    “That’s our newest model, and it has one terabyte of capacity. Do you record a lot of videos or music?” or

    your first visit to a target business when you ask to set up a meeting with your prospect. You’ve done your

    research, your planning, and your preparation, but the approach is where the rubber meets the road.

    The Six Cs of the Sales Approach

    While prospecting and the preapproach are entirely under your control, the approach is the first part of

    the sales process where you actually come in contact with your prospect and you’re not quite sure what

    she will say; this can be a little nerve wracking. However, if you’ve researched your prospect, and if you go

    into the sales call prepared, you can have confidence that you will be able to adapt your sales approach to

    your individual customer. Keep in mind that you aren’t selling a product during your approach; you are

    actually introducing yourself and opening up the way for the opportunity to make your sales presentation

    later. Consider these six Cs, or things to keep in mind before and during your sales approach. These six

    points will help you anticipate your customers’ responses, adapt, and execute your approach with success.

    The Six Cs of Selling
    • Confidence

    • Credibility

    • Contact

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    • Communication

    • Customization

    • Collaboration


    If you know your product inside and out, and you’ve set your objectives and prepared a general benefit

    statement, you will be well equipped going into your call, so have confidence. (On the other hand,

    confidence without preparation is a sure recipe for disappointment, so make sure you actually have done

    your homework first.) Not only will a confident attitude set the tone for the meeting and help you build

    credibility with your customer, but it will also help you perform your job better. As psychologist William

    James said, “Attitude at the beginning of a difficult task…more than anything else, will affect its successful

    outcome.” [4]

    Of course, feeling and appearing confident in a stressful situation is more easily said than done, but there

    are some simple psychological tricks that can help. For in-person sales approaches, sales coach Jim

    Meisenheimer suggests giving yourself an affirmation before heading into the meeting. For instance, tell

    yourself “This will be one of the most positive sales calls I have ever had with a new prospect.” [5] If you

    believe you will succeed, it is more likely that you will succeed. In addition, dressing well for your sales

    call (discussed in greater detail later in this chapter), will help you feel more confident and professional.

    For sales calls that happen over the phone, prepare for your call by organizing your workspace first. Clear

    off your desk and make sure you have everything you will need within easy reach—calendar, note pad and

    pen, fact sheets, precall planning worksheet, and anything else that might be helpful during the call. [6]You

    should also try standing up (because people feel more powerful when they are standing) and smiling while

    you talk (it will relax you and will help you to use a positive, energized tone of voice). [7]


    Building credibility is one of the most important challenges you will face early on in the sales call; you

    want to convince your customer that you are competent, that you offer valuable solutions, and that you

    are trustworthy. [8]As sales strategist Thomas A. Freese writes, “Without credibility, sellers won’t even get

    a chance to take a swing at the ball.” [9] Open the conversation by introducing yourself and your company;

    if you are meeting your customer in person, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake. Next, briefly

    explain the purpose of your call (without making your sales presentation). Your customers are busy

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    people, and will appreciate it if you are direct. In addition, an up-front manner like this conveys


    Depending on the type of sales situation you are in, you may be approaching your prospect, or they may

    be approaching you. In B2B sales, you are generally approaching your prospect, so you have researched

    them first. While qualifications like a proven track record, satisfied customers, or number of years in sales

    might help establish your credibility, according to Jeff Thull, CEO of Prime Resource Group, these

    qualifications are expected, and listing them isn’t an effective way to lead off your sales call. Thull

    says exceptional credibility comes when you can demonstrate that you have done your homework. In

    other words, it’s not what you know about your company and your product that will impress your

    customer; it’s what you know about your customer and his situation. [10] Later in this chapter, you will

    learn about specific ways to do that.


    By now you might be wondering how you should approach your prospect. Do you want to make your first

    contact in person, on the phone, or over e-mail? The way you make contact will depend on the specific

    selling situation. Consider whether you are in a situation in which you will initiate the approach, whether

    your customers will initiate the approach, or whether your selling will include a mixture of both. For

    instance, maybe you work for a company that specializes in corporate training and personal development

    services, and your customers include referrals (in which case the prospect is approaching you) as well as

    prospects you have identified through research (in which case you are contacting them). Even retail

    selling can include a mixture of both. If you are selling cars or fine jewelry for instance, your customer

    might come into the showroom or store and ask you for help directly, or he might just start looking

    around, in which case you would approach him. Of course, because of the environment, in most retail

    situations the approach happens in person.

    While there’s not one set way to make an approach, the constant is to make every approach personal.

    Every situation is different—some approaches may be made at a trade show, while others may be made in

    an office, or even on the phone—but it’s always a good idea to show appreciation. “In every conversation,

    include at least one appreciative remark,” according to Rosalie Maggio, best-selling author of How to Say

    It and The Art of Talking to Anyone. Praise the other person’s business acumen, charity work, or even her

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    taste in shoes. As long as the appreciation is brief, sincere, and specific, the feeling will be remembered

    long after the words are forgotten.” [11]

    On the other hand, in situations where you are generally approaching the customer first, it’s important to

    think strategically about the way you want to contact your prospects. E-mail is one of the most efficient

    and least expensive ways to get in touch with a large number of prospects, but e-mail—like direct mail—is

    impersonal and has a low response rate: 2 or 3 percent at best. [12](Just think of all the “junk” e-mails you

    delete or send through your spam filters on daily basis). E-mail can work as an extension of the qualifying

    process because only the prospects with genuine interest will be motivated enough to respond. This makes

    e-mail a useful approach for smaller, less complicated sales that require the seller to deal with a large

    number of prospects [13] (e.g., insurance or real estate). On the other hand, e-mail is not the most effective

    way to reach your best prospects, especially not in complicated B2B sales—after all, in relationship selling

    you want your approach to be as personal as possible.

    Face-to-face interaction is definitely the most personal approach you can make, but it is also the most

    difficult. In large B2B sales, since your contacts are decision makers with high levels of responsibility, they

    are busy people. You wouldn’t just show up at their businesses without an appointment. In these cases, it’s

    best to call first and ask your contact if you can schedule a time to meet with her in person. Of course, you

    might get sent right to voice mail, especially when you are trying to contact a busy manager. If you’ve tried

    a number of times and can’t get through, you can leave a message, but make sure you follow up by calling

    back later in the day or the next day. Be persistent and call back until you can speak to someone. Also keep

    in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule. You might have the opportunity to make a face-to-

    face first contact (and secure an appointment for a sales presentation) if you know your B2B prospect will

    be present at a trade show or industry event you plan to attend.


    Whether you approach your prospect in person or over the phone, you want to build good rapport. After

    all, wouldn’t you rather do business with someone you like? Your customer will too. “Most decision

    makers base their purchasing decisions on who they are buying from, not what they are buying,” says Ray

    Silverstein, sales columnist for Entrepreneur online. [14] Rapport building happens at every step of the

    sales process, but it begins with your first interaction.

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    For in-person sales approaches, keep in mind the powerful elements of nonverbal communication that

    were covered in Chapter 5 “The Power of Effective Communication”, such as when people communicate

    face-to-face, only about 20 to 30 percent of that communication is verbal. [15] This means that it is

    important to focus not only on what you are communicating but also on howyou communicate it. You can

    make an instant positive connection simply by remembering to smile. This is critical: people are naturally

    wired to smile in response to others’ smiles, so by smiling you will put your prospect at ease and help

    create a positive atmosphere. [16] In addition, consider that people are more likely to trust and respond

    favorably to people who are similar to them.[17] Responding to your prospect’s body language and posture

    with a similar body language and posture, or mirroring, helps to establish rapport.

    And don’t forget to bring some business cards with you. You’ll want to exchange business cards with the

    person with whom you are meeting.

    On the other hand, when you communicate over the phone, you won’t be able to use body language to

    help put your prospect at ease or establish rapport; your voice (including your pitch, tone, enunciation,

    and word choice) is the only tool you have. [18] Sales coach Wendy Weiss suggests recording your voice as

    you practice your sales approach and listening to how you sound. Is your tone convincing and confident?

    Does your voice have warmth and passion in it? Are you speaking clearly enough to be understood?

    Listening to your recorded voice will help you hear how you sound to other people. [19] Speech and

    language professor Daniel R. Boone adds that “the two most common difficulties in telephone

    conversations are speaking too loudly or speaking too softly,” so it’s important to pay attention to your

    volume as well as your tone. [20] Finally, while you can’t mirror your customer’s body language over the

    phone, you can subtly reflect his style of speech. If your prospect speaks quickly, try speeding up your

    speech as well. If the prospect has a drawl, consciously slow your voice down to match his pacing. Pay

    attention to the way he speaks and also to his word choice and conversational style and adapt your style to

    match. [21]

    You might be thinking, so now I know how to communicate with my prospect, but I still don’t

    know what to communicate. The “what” of your sales approach will depend on the specific selling

    situation and your precall objectives. In some cases, like retail for instance, your approach might be

    immediately followed by a sales presentation, but in other cases, particularly larger B2B sales, the purpose

    of the first contact is to set up an appointment for a sales presentation. In the next section of this chapter

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    you will read more about the dos and don’ts of opening lines, or approaches, in different selling


    Approach Like the Pros
    Learn about sales approaches and other best practices in selling by subscribing to the Selling

    Power newsletters. There are several different versions including one that focuses on the pharmaceutical

    industry and one for software. All e-mail newsletters are free when you sign up



    Tailoring your sales approach to the individual customer is one of the keys to relationship selling. Even in

    retail situations in which the prospect is approaching you first (so you aren’t able to research her

    beforehand), you would approach different customers differently. Consider the example fromChapter 7

    “Prospecting and Qualifying: The Power to Identify Your Customers”for instance: selling a gym

    membership to a prospect who walks into your fitness club. If a woman with two young children comes in,

    you would probably spend time showing her the child care center, and you would discuss any family

    centered activities your club offered. If she expressed an interest in aerobics or Pilates, you would show

    her the class schedule and the fitness rooms where the classes are held. Adaptive selling—especially in

    situations in which you haven’t been able to prepare—involves observation, listening, and asking directed

    questions to uncover what your prospect needs and cares about.

    John Brennan, president of Interpersonal Development, suggests using intuition to customize your

    behaviors and the substance of your communications to your customers’ buying style. “If [something in

    the interaction] does not feel right,” he says, “pay attention.” Tune in to your customer’s responses. If you

    get the sense that he wants simplicity, don’t go into too much detail. On the other hand, if he uses detail in

    his own responses, use a higher level of complexity when you respond back. [22] Ultimately, the trick is to

    get inside your customer’s head. Ask yourself, “What would I care about and want to know if I was this

    person? What would I respond well to?” Is your customer an individual consumer? Is he a technical

    expert? Is he someone working to earn the respect of higher-level managers in his company? Putting

    yourself in your customer’s shoes and adapting accordingly will help you earn his trust. [23]

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    Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
    Great Selling Skills Never Go Out of Style

    In 1946, when the American Tobacco Company’s account was up for grabs, big advertising firms across

    the country competed to earn its business. Ben Duffy, the president of a small advertising firm in New

    York City, also decided to take a shot at the account. Duffy made a phone call and successfully secured an

    appointment with the president of the tobacco company, but he knew he was just a small firm up against

    advertising giants and that he would have to do something to set himself apart during the sales call. As he

    thought about what to do, Duffy decided to put himself into his prospect’s shoes. “What questions would I

    have on my mind if I were the president of American Tobacco?” he asked himself. He made a list of fifty

    questions then narrowed that list down to ten. The next day when he met with his prospect, Duffy said, “I

    thought you would have some questions about me, my company, what’s in the deal for you, and what’s in

    it for me, so I made a list.” Surprisingly, the president had also made a list of ten questions, and seven of

    the ten questions on the two men’s lists were the same. By putting himself in his prospect’s shoes, Duffy

    established quick rapport and walked out of the office that day with a $15 million advertising account. [24]


    You’ve learned how relationship selling is about partnering in Chapter 3 “The Power of Building

    Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work”. Of course all sales have a bottom line (you ultimately

    want to close the sale), but your customer has something he wants out of the transaction, too. In

    relationship selling you want to focus on your customer so he gets what he wants; when you do this, your

    selling becomes a collaborative process. When you practice collaborative selling, both you and your

    customer get more out of the situation, and you create ideas that would not have been possible for each

    party working individually.

    Consider a recent selling partnership between Pandora, an online streaming radio site, and Whole Foods

    Market. Doug Sterne, Pandora’s director of sales, approached the natural foods retailer about locally

    targeted advertising spots in the San Francisco Bay Area. He told Whole Foods that one of Pandora’s goals

    is keeping advertising to a minimum, only airing one commercial per hour of radio time, but that selling

    advertising is necessary to Pandora’s continued success. Meanwhile he learned from Whole Foods that

    one of their goals was “for listeners to see Whole Foods as a place where they could get complete meals.”

    By sharing their objectives this way, the two companies were able to build an advertising campaign that

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    included fifteen-second audio spots targeting listeners within a certain distance of various Whole Foods

    locations as well as time-specific promotional ads: one in the morning promoting a lunch special and one

    promoting a fish special closer to the dinner hour. The collaboration resulted in a successful return on

    investment for both parties, and Whole Foods is planning to expand their advertising purchases to include

    the Los Angeles area soon. [25]

    Dress the Part

    When you meet a customer face-to-face, appearance is an important part of the first impression, so make

    sure to put careful thought into what you wear to your sales call. A good rule of thumb is to dress a little

    better than you think your customer will dress.[26] It’s hard to go wrong dressing more professionally than

    you need to, but you can go wrong by dressing too casually. What you wear is as much of a

    communication as what you say or how you use body language; so make sure to dress appropriately and


    At the same time, make sure you know something about your customer and his company culture. As sales

    coach Dave Kahle says, “You should, within the context of the customer’s world, look successful,

    confident, and competent.” [27] If you sell agricultural supplies to farmers, or you sell products to

    maintenance supervisors or people who wear uniforms, for example, dressing too formally will separate

    you from your customer. However, these cases are the exceptions rather than the rule. When you are

    selling to managers within a company, dress will be more formal. Find out about the company culture to

    learn whether dress is business casual or “coat and tie” and dress up a notch.
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

    • Remembering the six Cs of the sales approach—confidence, credibility, contact, communication,

    customization, and collaboration—will help you make a good impression when you contact your prospect

    for the first time.

    • Techniques like preparation, research, and dressing the part can help you maintain confidence going into

    the call.

    • It is important to establish credibility early on by communicating to your prospect, both verbally and

    nonverbally, that you are professional, well intentioned, and trustworthy.

    • Decide how you will make the initial contact with your prospect; this varies depending on the selling


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    • Good communication is essential to rapport building in relationship selling; it involves not only knowing

    what to say but also knowing how to listen.

    • Customization, tailoring your sales approach to the individual customer, is also key in relationship selling.

    • A good salesperson works not only to achieve his own objective but also to help his customer achieve her

    objective. Collaborative selling creates ideas that would not be possible for each party working


    E X E R C I S E S

    1. Explain how a salesperson would customize her approach to two customers: a busy, high-powered

    executive and a friendly, conversational small business owner.

    2. You are preparing for a meeting with a manager from a computer gaming company. From your research

    on company demographics you know that the firm is relatively small, the employees are mostly twenty-

    and thirty-something males, and the company characterizes itself as creative, fun, and cutting edge.

    Based on this information, how would you dress for your sales call?

    3. Your company specializes in pool cleaning and maintenance services, and you have identified a large

    health club that has several locations as a prospect and conducted research on the business. You think

    you have identified some opportunities to help the customer save money. One service option provides

    biweekly maintenance visits, and the customer pays monthly. Another involves monthly service visits and

    biannual training sessions at your customer’s business so that their staff can learn to perform routine

    maintenance tasks on their own. You are preparing to approach the health club’s manager to set up a

    sales call. How would you approach the manager? What other type of information would you want to

    know before you make your approach? What role would each of the six Cs have in your approach?

    4. [1] “Paul McCartney’s first concert at City Field,” video, July 22,

    2009, (accessed July 26, 2009).

    5. [2] “Paul McCartney at Citi Field Opening Song ‘Drive My Car,’” video, July 17, 2009,http://www.macca- (accessed July 26, 2009).

    6. [3] BNET Health Care Industry, “Social Perception,” BNET, March


    May 16, 2010).

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    7. [4] Brian Johnson’s Philosophers Notes, “Inspirational Quotes: William

    James,” (accessed May 16, 2010).

    8. [5] Jim Meisenheimer, “7 Things to Do to Prepare for Your First Sales Call,”


    Call&id=2409769 (accessed May 16, 2010).

    9. [6] Craig Harrison, “Warming Up to Cold Calls,” Expressions of Excellence, Fall

    2001, (accessed July 30, 2009).

    10. [7] Business Link, “Planning to

    Sell,” (acces

    sed July 30, 2009).

    11. [8] Thomas A. Freese, Secrets of Question Based Selling (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2003), 113.

    12. [9] Thomas A. Freese, Secrets of Question Based Selling (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2003), 116.

    13. [10] Jeff Thull, “How to Establish Sales Credibility: It’s Not the Stories You Tell, It’s the Questions You Ask,”

    MarketingProfs, February 6, 2007,; Neil Rackham, The Spin

    Selling Fieldbook(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996), 40.

    14. [11] Robert Jones, “How to Make a Powerful First Impression,” Entrepreneur, November 17,

    2008, July

    30, 2009).

    15. [12] Joanna L. Krotz, “5 Steps to Hitting Your Direct Mail Targets,” Microsoft Small Business


    rgets&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 (accessed July 30, 2009).

    16. [13] Sean Mize, “What’s the Most Effective First Contact with a Prospect—Email or Phone?”

    EzineArticles, First-Contact-With-A-Prospect—

    Email-Or-Phone?&id=1206246 (accessed July 30, 2009).

    17. [14] Ray Silverstein, “How Do I Build Customer Rapport?” Entrepreneur, July 25,


    82144.html (accessed August 1, 2009).

    18. [15] Katherine Toland Frith and Barbara Mueller, Advertising and Societies (New York: Peter Lang

    Publishing, 2003), 34.

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    19. [16] Geoffrey James, “Principles of Building Rapport,” video, March 9, 2009,

    BNET,;col1 (accessed August 1, 2009).

    20. [17] Geoffrey James, “How to Build Rapport on the Phone,” BNET, September 18,

    2007,;col1 (accessed August 1, 2009).

    21. [18] Geoffrey James, “How to Build Rapport on the Phone,” BNET, September 18,

    2007,;col1 (accessed August 1, 2009).

    22. [19] Wendy Weiss, “Your Voice Is Your Instrument,” Sales Information,

    2004, (accessed July 30, 2009).

    23. [20] Daniel R. Boone, “Is Your Voice Selling You on the Phone?” American Salesman, August 1, 1993,


    1.html (accessed July 30, 2009).

    24. [21] Geoffrey James, “To Sell More, Listen to Your Voice,” BNET, September 19,

    2007, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    25. [22] John Brennan, “Adapt Your Style to Win over the Customer,”,

    customer.html (accessed August 1, 2009).

    26. [23] John Brennan, “The Art of Adaptation,”, (accessed

    July 30, 2009).

    27. [24] See

    May 16, 2010).

    28. [25] Andrew Hampp, “Pandora Set to Expand Thanks to New Royalty Ruling,” Advertising Age, July 13,

    2009, (accessed May 16, 2010).

    29. [26] Dave Kahle, “What Are Your Views on Dress? Does it Matter?” The Kahle

    Way, (accessed May 26, 2010).

    30. [27] Dave Kahle “What Are Your Views on Dress? Does it Matter?” The Kahle

    Way, (accessed May 16, 2010; emphasis added).

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    9.2 How to Start Off on the Right Foot
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Understand how to make contact with your prospect.

    What is the worst pick-up line you’ve ever heard? How did the person on the receiving end react?

    Chances are he or she was not very impressed. During a sales approach there are also certain

    opening lines to avoid—and others that will be more successful. The following section offers some

    pointers (and reminders) that will give you the power to start the selling relationship off on the right


    During Every Sales Approach

    While sales approaches can vary widely depending on the selling situation, there are a few standards

    that always apply.

    Always Get the Customer’s Name Right

    There’s nothing more off-putting in a sales approach than a salesperson misspelling or mispronouncing

    your name. If the salesperson can’t be bothered to learn something as basic as your name, it sends the

    message that he doesn’t care about you as a person, and it certainly gets the relationship off to a bad start.

    In e-mails, double check that the customer’s name isn’t misspelled or mistyped. For telephone or in-

    person approaches make sure you’ve figured out how to pronounce the prospect’s name during your

    preapproach research. Ask contacts who might know (a receptionist, for instance, or your referral source)

    if you are unsure. And if the prospect has a difficult name, and you can’t get a confirmation on

    pronunciation, avoid using his name in your opening lines.

    Always Listen

    As sales consultants Andrew Sokol and Ike Krieger say, during a sales call, “Don’t be interesting; be

    interested.” [1] In other words, don’t try to impress your customer by spending a lot of time talking about

    your qualifications or how wonderful your company or product is; instead, show your prospect that you

    are genuinely interested in getting to know him and in understanding his needs. The only way you can do

    this is to listen. Ask questions and then let your customer do the talking. During in-person sales calls you

    should engage in active listening, which was discussed in Chapter 5 “The Power of Effective

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    Communication”. Show the customer that you are really listening by adopting a listening posture: look the

    customer in the eye and lean forward or incline your head while she’s talking. In any sales approach you

    should restate the essential points your customer brings up, both to check for accuracy of understanding

    and to show that you are paying attention. [2]

    You might think about listening as something you do in person or on the telephone, but listening is also a

    strategy online. Author and sales trainer Shane Gibson has coined the term “Listening 2.0” to describe the

    need to “listen” to the online conversation before you begin broadcasting your message.
    Listening 2.0 Podcast

    If you think social media are all about getting your message out, it’s not that simple. This podcast provides

    effective ways to listen before you speak online.

    Listening 2.0 – Social Media Listening Strategy


    Be Ready with Your Elevator Pitch

    Have you ever heard the term “elevator pitch”? It’s a concise description of a product or service that

    should take no longer than an average elevator ride. [3] Every salesperson has an elevator pitch for the

    product or service he is selling. That way, he can tell people about his product in under sixty seconds, and

    it’s a perfect way to start a conversation or phone call and helps to make a good first impression. In fact,

    everyone from a CEO to an entrepreneur has an elevator pitch about her company to tell potential

    investors, shareholders, and other stakeholders. Most listeners don’t have the time to hear all the details

    about a product or service in the first minutes of a conversation so the elevator pitch provides just enough

    information so the audience knows what he is talking about and wants to know more. In other words, “An

    elevator pitch is an overview of an idea, product, service, project, person, or other solution and is designed

    to just get a conversation started.” [4]

    Your elevator pitch comes in handy when you are making an approach on the phone or in person. It’s the

    perfect opportunity to tell someone about your company and product or service in less than sixty seconds

    so that you can engage her in conversation. Remember, an elevator pitch isn’t a sales presentation; it’s

    simply a way to begin an interactive conversation and get to your ultimate goal—a meeting with the

    decision maker.

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    Approaching by Telephone

    Establishing rapport can be a challenging task when you make your approach by phone because you can’t

    read your customer’s body language or other visual cues, and she can’t read yours. There is also the

    possibility that you will catch your prospect during a busy or inconvenient time. For telephone

    approaches, it’s best to be brief and direct and to save small talk for your in-person meeting or for a later,

    scheduled phone call.

    Do Give Your Name and the Purpose of Your Call in the First Twenty Seconds [5]

    Your prospect will probably decide whether or not he is interested in what you have to say within the first

    twenty seconds of the call, so it’s best to be direct and get this essential information across early on. You

    might say something like “This is Shamika Lorenz from Selling Solutions, a firm that specializes in

    helping businesses reduce their selling costs, and I’m calling to let you know about an upcoming seminar

    for small business owners in your area.” Such directness also conveys honesty and lets your prospect

    know that you won’t waste his time. [6]

    Do Prepare a Script for Your Opening Statement

    Because you want to get your prospect’s attention in the first twenty seconds, it’s important not to stumble

    over your words or sound like you are rambling. After you have given your name and the purpose of your

    call, offer a reference point based on your preapproach research. For example, “I read that your start-up

    has recently opened a new downtown location.” This will personalize your approach and help establish

    your credibility. Next, lead into a general benefit statement [7] that will address your prospect’s “what’s in

    it for me?” question.

    Do Ask “Is This a Good Time?”

    Keep in mind that asking for permission helps build trust and allows the customer to feel like she is in

    control of the call. [8] However, it’s important to think about the way you phrase your question. It is always

    easier for people to say yes to a question than to say no, so when you open with something like “Did I

    catch you at a bad time?” all your customer has to do is agree with you (“Yes, this is a bad time.”), and the

    call is effectively over. On the other hand, if you ask whether this is a good time, a yes response will work

    in your favor. [9] Your customer is only likely to say no if this really is a bad time, and if that happens, you

    are well positioned to say “I understand. Would Monday at 10:30 be a better time to talk?” [10]

    Don’t Start Off by Asking, “How Are You Today?”

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    This common greeting is one you probably use without thinking twice about it. But opening a sales call

    this way over the phone (when you are contacting a busy stranger who doesn’t know why you have called)

    can be off-putting and will probably come across as insincere. [11]

    How to Get through Voice Mail to Get to the Right Person
    If you are trying to get to the right person in a company and you are getting the voice mail runaround, use

    these simple steps:

    1. Press “0” during the voice message to try to get to the operator.

    2. Visit to find out the “secret” to getting a human to answer the phone at over 1,200


    3. Be cordial and professional to whoever answers the phone. He has the power to give you valuable

    information to get you to the person you want to talk to so engage him in conversation and thank him

    for his help.

    Don’t Launch into Prolonged Explanations

    As sales coach Sharon Drew Morgan says, “Your prospect is obviously not sitting by the phone waiting for

    a call from you.” [12] You want to be personable when you call, but you also want to keep in mind that for

    busy decision makers, phone calls are interruptions, so the more business oriented the interruption, the

    better. [13]

    Approaching by E-mail

    While an e-mail approach is less personal than an in-person or telephone approach, it might be your best

    method, depending on the type of sale in which you are engaging. For instance, Internet marketing coach

    Sean Mize says of his business, “I generate 2,000 subscribers via the Internet every single month, so to try

    to contact all those individuals by phone, unless I have a huge telemarketing room, would be absolutely

    impossible.” [14] Here are a few things to keep in mind.

    Do Write a Number of E-mails in Different Styles and Tones

    Online marketing expert Daegan Smith suggests crafting about fifteen different e-mail templates so you

    can choose between them when you want to get in touch with a prospect. [15] You can think of it a little like

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    building up your wardrobe so that you have different things you can wear on different occasions: you

    wouldn’t wear the same clothes to a baseball game that you would wear to a business meeting. You also

    wouldn’t send the exact same communication to all your prospects. The bottom line is that you want the

    e-mail to be as personal as possible.

    Do Send a Well-Written E-mail

    Keep in mind that an e-mailed sales approach is still a first impression, even though the communication

    doesn’t involve any immediate contact. While the e-mail should be personal, it should be more formal

    than the personal e-mails you send to friends. You want to sound knowledgeable and credible, which

    means paying close attention to your word choice and style. Give the e-mail the same attention you would

    give to a business letter. This also means reading the e-mail several times before sending it to check for

    spelling and grammar mistakes, just as you would with any other business correspondence. [16]

    Example of an Effective E-mail Approach
    Here is a sample e-mail used to approach prospects to hire the Acme Company to create a logo. This e-

    mail was reproduced with permission from The Writers For Hire Web site. [17]

    Figure 9.5

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    Do Follow Up Persistently

    Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a response to the first or second e-mail you send. In B2B sales, it

    often takes about twelve e-mails before contacts reply, so be persistent. [18] If your prospect doesn’t

    respond right away, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t interested in what you have to offer—just assume that he

    is a busy person with plenty of other distractions that come across his desk every day. If you continue to

    send your e-mails regularly, eventually the message will register on your prospect’s “radar screen.” Of

    course, you don’t want your e-mails to be an annoyance either, so consider including an “unsubscribe”

    option somewhere in the body of the message for the prospects who truly aren’t interested so that they

    can request to be removed from your e-mail list. [19]

    Don’t Send E-mails That Look Like Templates

    Again, the goal is to make your e-mails as personal as you can. If you have a number of e-mails drafted,

    select the one that seems most appropriate to the specific prospect(s) you want to target, and include your

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    prospect’s name in the heading and body of the e-mail. [20] This will set your message apart from the

    average, impersonal “junk” e-mail that people get regularly.

    Approaching through Online Social Networks

    In some cases you will be able to leverage your online social network to approach a prospect. For instance,

    if you are a Web site designer and you attend a Webinar on increasing Internet traffic to business’s

    homepages, the other Webinar participants are potential prospects, and you might decide to contact them

    and ask to be added to their LinkedIn networks.

    Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
    Social Networking Transformation

    For PJA Advertising & Marketing, entry into the social networking world has transformed the way the

    company interacts with customers on every level. Phil Johnson, one of PJA’s senior managers, says, “Now

    our social media activities involve almost everyone who works here and touch almost every aspect of

    agency life.” Early on, the company’s vice president of business development used LinkedIn to connect

    with PJA’s prospects and current customers, and today PJA uses LinkedIn in combination with Twitter,

    Facebook, and links through YouTube and Flickr to approach new customers and direct potential

    prospects to the company’s Web site. The upshot? According to Johnson, it’s working. The benefit of using

    social networks to reach prospects is that you can have greater transparency, he says. PJA might contact a

    prospect via LinkedIn and direct him to a YouTube video, which might then include a link to the

    company’s Web page or Twitter account, so in the end the prospect gets a view of the agency from a

    number of sources. “Today, when we walk into a capability meeting, the people we’re talking to already

    have had a lot of exposure to our thinking and our personality,” says Johnson. [22]

    Do Make a Comment When You Add a Prospect as a New Friend

    According to marketing specialist Leslie Hamp, even something as simple as “I noticed we were on the

    Webinar together, and I’d like to add you as my friend,” will work. [23] The point is that you want to give

    your approach a personal touch. If you just go out and friend all your prospects without making the effort

    to engage with them, they might not accept your friend request in the first place, and even if they do

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    accept, they may wonder who you are and how you found them. Or worse, they may soon forget about you

    altogether. You can think of the networking tool as a facilitator, something that gives you the opportunity

    to connect, but it is still up to you to do the work of socially interacting and leveraging your connections.

    Do Aim for Quality over Quantity

    There are so many new and interesting social media programs available that it can be tempting to join

    multiple sites; but if you are a member of more than two or three social networks at one time, you will

    probably find your efforts spread too thin. You can get the most out of your social networking by focusing

    on regular contributions to the few networks of which you are a member, rather than by trying to

    maintain your profile and connections on a number of sites.[24]

    Do Contribute to the Community

    In social networking situations, just as in face-to-face interactions, you want to build a good rapport by

    earning the trust and respect of your customers and colleagues. This means considering ways you can

    participate in and contribute to the online community, rather than simply using the social networking

    sites to promote yourself or your product. As virtual office administrator Sue Canfield says, “Social

    networking needs to be about building relationships—not primarily about self-promotion.” [25] For

    instance, if you decide to start participating in a news-related social networking site like (where

    people post links to and comments about news stories), start rating and commenting on other users’

    postings before you begin bookmarking your content there. [26]

    Don’t Let Your Language Get Sloppy

    As with e-mail approaches, pay attention to your language. Use a higher level of formality when you

    contact business prospects than you would use when you send social networking messages to your

    friends; avoid slang (like “u” for “you” or “btw” for “by the way”). [27]

    Don’t Make a Sales Pitch

    Even though a social-network approach looks different from an in-person or over-the-phone approach,

    the purpose is the same—establishing rapport, building trust, and helping your customer discover needs

    and opportunities—so avoid making your sales pitch during your initial contact. For instance, returning to

    the example of the Web site design specialist, assume you added ten of your fellow Webinar participants

    to your social network. Maybe your company has made a short YouTube video that offers advice on

    incorporating blogging capabilities into business Web sites, so you send a message and link to your ten

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    new contacts: “I thought you might be interested in this video.” In the video’s description on YouTube,

    you can post a link to your company Web site or blog where you make a direct sales pitch. This way you

    are offering your prospects valuable information without coming across as pushy. If a prospect is

    interested in pursuing your services, he has the resources to follow up on his own. [28]

    Approaching Your Prospect through Social Networking:Dos and Don’ts
    Use the Following Tips to Make Social Networking More Effective for Your Sales Approach

    • Do use social networks, especially those that focus on the professional community, as a way to

    connect with prospects and customers.

    • Do make a comment when you add a prospect or customer as a friend or connection.

    • Do focus on quality of connections rather than quantity.

    • Do contribute to the community.

    • Do use professional social networking features such as Questions and Answers on LinkedIn.

    Avoid the Following When Using Social Networking as a Tool to Make a Sales Approach

    • Don’t let your language get sloppy; always use proper spelling and grammar.

    • Don’t make a sales pitch. Use social networks to get in touch and make connections; you can follow

    up to set up a meeting or phone call to explore your prospect’s needs.

    • Don’t post personal photos, videos, articles, or comments to a professional social networking site

    such as LinkedIn.

    • Don’t post any inappropriate language, photos, or videos on your personal social networking pages

    such as Facebook. It’s a good idea to remove any inappropriate information as employers, prospects,

    and customers can see your personal brand 24/7.

    Approaching Your B2B Contact in Person

    Some managers and buyers are extremely busy, and when you try to reach them by phone, you will only

    interact with a secretary, so your first contact with your actual customer might be at a trade show or

    industry event. When John Koss, sales vice president and partial owner of Koss Corp., wants to approach

    buyers from his megaretail clients, he heads to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Koss

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    Corp. sells headphones and audio equipment to stores around the country, including big names like Wal-

    Mart, Target, and Sears. Before heading to CES, Koss schedules appointments with some buyers and

    hopes that others—like Wal-Mart’s buyers, who refuse to make appointments—will stop by his booth. He

    makes a number of sales approaches at the trade show and then spends the next few months traveling to

    interested buyers’ corporate headquarters, where he gives his sales presentations. [29]Koss’s strategy is an

    example of one typical B2B sales approach situation.

    In other situations, if you are selling to smaller businesses at the local level, you might make your

    approach in person at the customer’s place of business. Why make an in-person approach rather than

    placing a phone call? While visiting in person takes more time and effort, it’s more personal: it is often

    easier to build rapport with your customer during a face-to-face interaction. There are just a few things to

    keep in mind when making an in-person or telephone approach in B2B sales.

    Do Use a Strong, Attention-Grabbing Opener

    You want to get your prospect to like you in the first minute of your sales approach, and you want to give

    him a reason to keep listening to what you have to say. Be up front: introduce yourself and explain the

    purpose of your call (including the general benefit statement you have prepared) early on. Then, as in any

    sales call, ask permission to continue. [30] Your opening might sound something like this:

    You: Hello, Aaron. My name is Janeka Jones from iFX, a provider of e-commerce solutions.

    Aaron: Hello.


    We met at the South by Southwest conference in Austin last week. You mentioned that an area

    of growth for your business is personalized apparel. The personalized jerseys you offer on your

    Web site are really unique. In fact, I ordered one this weekend, which gave me an idea about

    how we can help you reduce your order processing time. Is this a good time to talk about your


    Aaron: I’m running off to a meeting in a few minutes, but I always like talking about my business.

    I’m always looking for ways to get the product to my customers faster, but I really can’t afford

    any additional order processing costs.

    You: I can understand that. My idea can actually help you reduce your overall operating costs and
    improve your processing time. Since you are on your way to a meeting, would it work for you if I

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    stop by on Tuesday morning so we can talk more?

    Aaron: Let’s see. Tuesday morning at 10:30 looks like it works for me.

    Do Take Your Lead from the Prospect or Customer

    Of course you want to be personable and establish a good relationship with your customer, but buyers

    often say that it irritates them when salespeople try to engage in too much small talk, especially when it

    comes across as forced or artificial. When deciding how to balance small talk with business, it’s important

    to take your lead from your customer. In the example where Janeka Jones from iFx approaches a

    prospect, for instance, it wouldn’t be a good idea to make a lot of small talk during your approach because

    the customer let her know that he was short on time.

    Some customers are more people oriented, so getting to know you as a person will be an important part of

    the sales process for them. Other customers are very task oriented and will prefer to get down to business

    right away. They may opt for a more formal, businesslike approach and will only be interested in

    socializing after a transaction or meeting is completed. [31] Start your call with a direct approach, and then

    pause and give your customer a chance to respond. You can read his reaction to gauge the most

    appropriate communication style to use. Does he seem anxious to get down to business, or is he open to

    conversing for a bit first? The bottom line is that you don’t want him to feel like you are wasting his

    time. [32] Susan Greco, writer for Inc. magazine, tells the story of a meeting at the Consumer Electronics

    Show between a salesperson and a buyer for Lowe’s home store. The buyer started the meeting off by

    saying that she didn’t have much time and just wanted a quick overview of the company, but the seller,

    who was naturally chatty and personable, missed these cues. He talked at some length and gave the buyer

    a thorough tour of all the displays at his product booth. Meanwhile, the buyer looked at her watch

    (another cue the seller missed) before the seller concluded by saying “We really want your business.” The

    response from the buyer was sarcastic and a little cold: “Youdo?” [33] Instances like this are why it is critical

    to listen to your customer: both his verbal and nonverbal communications. Your attempts to establish

    rapport can backfire if you don’t pay attention to his signals.

    Don’t Use Opening Lines That Send the Wrong Message

    Avoid insincere openers or openers that convey a lack of confidence in yourself or your product. Here are

    a few examples of opening lines to avoid:

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    • “Would you be interested in saving money?”

    An opening line like this immediately puts people on guard. (Oh no, another phony salesperson trying to

    get my attention with an obvious ploy.)

    • “You’re probably a busy person, so I promise I’m not about to waste your time.”

    Of course, buyers don’t want you to waste their time, but if you mention time wasting up front, you are

    suggesting that you are someone who could waste your customer’s time. This opening conveys a lack of

    confidence, and it sets a negative tone for the sales call.

    • “I just happened to be in the area visiting another customer, so I thought I’d drop by.”

    This tells your customer that he isn’t a priority—just someone you were able to fit in between other, more

    important sales visits.

    • “I heard that you’ve been having trouble in your customer service department [or in some other area]


    This opening will also put your customer on guard. (Who’s been talking about our problems? How did

    she find out?) [34]

    Approaching Your B2B Prospect in Person
    Use the Following Tips to Make Your In-Person Sales Approach More Effective

    • Do use a strong, attention-grabbing opener.

    • Do take your lead from the prospect or customer.

    • Do use a personal, sincere approach.

    Avoid the Following When Approaching a Prospect in Person

    • Don’t use opening lines that send the wrong message; keep in mind the six Cs of the sales approach.

    • Don’t be insincere.

    Approaching a B2C Contact in Person

    In B2C sales situations, there is sometimes a greater temptation to focus immediately on selling and to

    forget about rapport building. In most B2C situations the salesperson hasn’t invested time in researching

    the prospect, and he might figure that this is a one-time sale. However, relationship selling is as valuable

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    in the retail environment as it is in the B2B sales environment. Salespeople who treat their customers

    as people before they treat them as sales prospects are the ones who get good customer referrals and

    repeat buyers. If you have a restaurant or a coffee shop where you’re a regular customer, you might

    already know how this principle works. Aren’t you more inclined to order coffee at a place where people

    greet you, know your name, and get your drink order right—even if another coffee shop opens up closer to

    your home or your office? Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to earning your customer’s trust

    and building rapport.

    Do Talk to Your Customer

    Everyone wants to be recognized. Have you ever walked into a retail store, looked around, and left,

    without an employee ever talking to you? How does an experience like that affect your buying decision?

    You might agree with sales consultant Donna Seigel who says “Frankly, when [the salespeople ignore me],

    I’m not inclined to ever go into that store again.” [35] Engaging your customer might mean the difference

    between making or losing a sale. Even if you don’t know the person, you can make small talk: compliment

    the customer (sincerely of course) or discuss the weather, local news or events, or sports. [36]

    Do Treat Your Customer Like a Guest

    Make your customer feel welcomed and comfortable when she comes into your business. Earl Taylor,

    longtime employee at Dale Carnegie & Associates, says, “The specific words you say are different, of

    course, but the motivation and attitude should be that you are truly grateful for the opportunity to interact

    with this individual and have the opportunity to be of service.” [37] Making the customer feel at home

    means not only interacting with him but also going out of your way to help him. Maybe the customer

    comes into your computer store looking for printer ink. Rather than leaving him to fend for himself, walk

    him to the aisle where you keep your printers (don’t just point him in the right direction). Once you take

    him to the aisle, ask if you can help him find the right ink type for his printer.

    Don’t Ask “Can I Help You?”

    “No, thanks. I’m just looking” is the customer’s automatic response to this question, so the question itself

    actually comes across as a polite way of giving your customer the brush off: [38] “I won’t bother you, and I

    don’t expect you to bother me.” Instead, ask a question that will get your customer talking. An open-ended

    question like “What brings you into International Jewelers today?” will be a more effective way of

    engaging someone.

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    B2C Approach: What’s Important to the Customer?
    When a customer enters a high-end car dealership, all the elements of the approach should be used to

    engage the customer, as in the example below:
    You: It is a great car, and it gets over thirty miles per gallon in the city.

    It is really nice, but I’m not sure a hybrid is what I need. I just came in to learn a little more

    about it.

    That’s a good idea. I’ll be happy to give you a lesson in hybrids to determine if one is right for

    you. You should also consider a test drive so you can see exactly how it handles on the road.

    Don’t Put Any Pressure on Your Customer

    What is the number one fear customers have about talking to salespeople? You might have guessed it:

    pressure. In fact, some customers will go out of their way to avoid salespeople for this reason. Let your

    customers know that they don’t have to worry about pressure when they buy from you. As in all selling

    situations, take your cue from the customer by listening and asking questions to uncover her needs

    first. Don’t start the conversation off with a question like “What’ll it take to get you into a Lexus today?”

    That’s essentially putting your sales presentation before your approach. Finally, keep in mind that asking

    your customer’s permission will also help take the pressure off: “We have a number of new sports utility

    vehicles. Can I ask you some questions about the specific characteristics you’re looking for?”

    Don’t Prejudge a Customer

    You’ve probably seen the scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Robert’s character walks into a high-end

    clothing boutique on Rodeo Drive and the saleswomen turn up their noses at her because she doesn’t fit

    the right customer image. You probably felt a little triumphant, especially if you’ve ever been slighted by a

    salesperson, when her character returns the following day to spend a few thousand dollars at several

    stores, embarrassing the salespeople who treated her so poorly. The moral of the story for a salesperson?

    Never make assumptions about a customer based on the way he looks, speaks, or dresses. Treat all your

    customers with respect and care. [39]

    Power Point: Lessons in Selling from the Customer’s Point of View
    The Approach That Customers Like

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    Customers can’t seem to stop saying good things about WholesaleCars2U in Rocklin, California. The

    dealership has been recognized for relationship selling and its low-pressure sales approach. As one

    customer said, “No pressure to buy.…They treat you with respect and care. It’s refreshing to know that it

    wasn’t just about the ‘bottom line.’” WholesaleCars’ customer care wins them repeat business and many

    referrals. Another customer says, “We will not buy a used car from another dealer again. Trust is

    something we felt immediately.” [40]

    Approaching Your B2C Prospect in Person
    Use the Following Tips to Make Your In-Person Sales Approach More Effective

    • Do talk to your customer.

    • Do treat your customer like a guest.

    Avoid the Following When Approaching a B2C Prospect in Person

    • Don’t ask, “Can I help you?”

    • Don’t put pressure on your customer.

    • Don’t prejudge any customers.

    Turning a Contact into a Sales Call

    You might be thinking at this point, “Fine. Now I know how to establish rapport, but how do I turn the call

    into a sale?” The transition from the approach into the sales presentation will vary, depending on the

    selling situation. In a B2B sale, your approach might lead to a face-to-face meeting, which might be an

    information-gathering session where you learn about the customer’s needs in greater detail, and you

    might not actually make your sales approach for several months. On the other hand, in some B2C sales,

    the salesperson might be able to launch into her presentation in less than a minute after meeting the

    customer. There is no formula that applies; the important thing is to understand the environment in

    which you are working. Sometimes it makes sense to move directly into a sales presentation, and

    sometimes it doesn’t. As salesman and CEO Pat Cavanaugh says, “You don’t have to shoot every time you

    have the ball.” [41]
    K E Y T A K E A W A Y S

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    • In all sales calls, make sure to listen to your customer and ask for her permission before continuing with

    your approach.

    • Use your elevator pitch to engage your prospect and secure the opportunity to make the complete sales


    • When making a sales approach over the phone

    o Do give your name and the purpose of your call in the first twenty seconds;

    o Do remember to ask, “Is this a good time?”;

    o Don’t launch into long explanations. Keep it brief and businesslike.

    • When making a sales approach by e-mail

    o Do draft a number of e-mail templates from which to choose,

    o Do make sure the e-mail is well written and businesslike,

    o Do make the e-mail as personal as you can.

    • When approaching through online social networks

    o Do make sure to comment when you add a prospect to your network,

    o Do contribute to the social network of which you are a member,

    o Do avoid slang in your communications.

    • When approaching a B2B contact in person

    o Do use a strong opening line that gets the customer’s attention,

    o Do follow the customer’s lead when it comes to small talk,

    o Do be careful that your opening line doesn’t send the wrong message.

    • When approaching a B2C contact in person

    o Do make conversation with your customer;

    o Don’t just ask, “Can I help you?”;

    o Do avoid putting any pressure on your customer.
    E X E R C I S E S

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    1. Take the listening quiz by clicking on the following link:

    school/story.php?title=test-your-current-listening-skills_1. How did you score? What areas do you feel

    you need improvement? How will this help you in selling?

    2. Listen to some business elevator pitches with this video:

    piece-of-cake/SmKk9ZSYrHee-91t7dDalA. What are the elements you thought were important in the

    elevator pitch? What elements did you think were not important in the pitch? Why do businesses have

    elevator pitches? To whom do they deliver the pitches?

    3. Review the following video and identify at least three things the salesperson is doing incorrectly

    on this sales call. What do you recommend he do to change the outcome of the call?

    4. Review the following audio to hear a voice mail message that was left for a prospect. Identify at

    least three things that are wrong with it. What suggestions would you make to change this into an

    effective voice mail message?

    5. Assume you work for a wholesale auto parts distributor whose customers include a mix of smaller,

    privately owned mechanic’s shops and large, national auto repair companies. In the coming week, you

    plan to approach buyers from two large national chains in addition to ten new prospects at small- to

    medium-sized companies. Considering that your workweek includes other tasks that require your time

    and attention as well, outline a plan for how you will approach these contacts.

    6. Imagine you are the head of cosmetics purchases for a large department store. Just as you are about to

    run out the door for a meeting, you get a call: “Hello Mr. Davis. How are you doing today? What if I told

    you that you could save up to 50 percent on your next big purchase of L’Oreal products? Our company

    has been selling top name cosmetics at wholesale prices for the past thirty years. Some of our customers

    include big names like Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and Nordstrom.” Offer a critique of this salesperson’s

    approach based on the pointers you learned in this section.

    7. Assume that you are in sales for a major financial services company. Given the state of the economy and

    the challenges that baby boomers are facing with retirement, you have new opportunities. What method

    would you use to approach a fifty-year old prospect that just lost his job and is concerned about his

    family’s retirement nest egg and was referred to you by one of your customers? What would you say (or

    write) as part of your approach?

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    8. [1] Andrew Sokol and Ike Krieger, “What to Say When You Meet a Prospect,” video,

    ArticlesBase, (accessed August 1, 2009).

    9. [2] Edward Delgaizo and Seleste Lunsford, Secrets of Top Performing Salespeople (New York: McGraw-Hill,

    2003), 54.

    10. [3] Aileen Pincus, “The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch,” BusinessWeek, June 18,

    2007, July

    26, 2009).

    11. [4] Chris O’Leary, “Elevator Pitch 101,” January 27, 2009, Elevator Pitch

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    12. [5] “Tips for Successful Cold Calling,” AllBusiness,

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    13. [6] Sharon Drew Morgan, “This is a Sales Call: How to Begin Prospecting Calls with Integrity,”


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    Integrity&id=34073 (accessed August 2, 2009).

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    17. [10] Michael McGaulley, “Phone Sales Skills: Your First Contact with the Prospect,” Sales Training Source,


    Prospect&id=4068383 (accessed August 2, 2009).

    18. [11] Joan Guiducci, “The First 7 Seconds of a Cold Call,” AllBusiness, August 1,

    1998, (accessed May 16, 2010).

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    Integrity&id=34073 (accessed August 2, 2009).

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    21. [14] Sean Mize, “What’s the Most Effective First Contact with a Prospect—Email or Phone?”

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    Email-Or-Phone?&id=1206246 (accessed July 30, 2009).

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    398144.html (accessed August 2, 2009).

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    398144.html (accessed August 2, 2009).

    26. [19] Sean Mize, “What’s the Most Effective First Contact with a Prospect—Email or Phone?”


    Or-Phone?&id=1206246 (accessed July 30, 2009).

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    398144.html (accessed August 2, 2009).

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    Saylor URL:

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    2009, (accessed May 16, 2010).

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    Competing on Value, Not Price, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002), 138.

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    SalesMBA, (accessed July 30, 2009).

    Saylor URL:

    43. [36] Donna Siegel, “Relationship Selling: Getting Your Customers Coming Back for More,”

    SalesMBA, (accessed July 30, 2009).

    44. [37] Geoffrey James, interview by Earl Taylor, “Building Rapport in Retail,” BNET, May 12,

    2007, (accessed May 16, 2010).

    45. [38] Geoffrey James, interview by Earl Taylor, “Building Rapport in Retail,” BNET, May 12,

    2007, (accessed May 16, 2010).

    46. [39] Edward Delgaizo and Seleste Lunsford, Secrets of Top Performing Salespeople (New York: McGraw-

    Hill, 2003), 51.

    47. [40], “Testimonials,”

    (accessed August 2, 2009).

    48. [41] Susan Greco, “The Nonstop, 24-7 CEO Salesman,” Inc., August 1,

    2000, (accessed July 31, 2009).

    9.3 Choosing the Best Approach for the Situation
    L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E

    1. Describe the different types of sales approaches.

    There’s more than one way to start a sales approach. The method you use will depend on the specific

    selling situation, the specific customer, and on you. If you want the approach to feel natural, the best

    way to do this is to be yourself. The following examples offer some approach options, but of course

    the specific approach you use will be a reflection of your style and may include a combination of

    these approaches.

    The Question Approach

    When you are making small talk with an acquaintance and you want to show him that you are interested

    in getting to know him, what do you do? You ask questions, right? A question approach is also an effective

    way to open a sales call because it shows the prospect that you are interested in listening to him, it begins

    a dialogue, and it helps you get the information you need to move the sale along. [1] As sales consultant

    Michel Neray points out, asking questions that reveal something of what you know about the target

    company can also help establish your credibility. Ask questions that lead, questions that confirm, and

    Saylor URL:

    questions that will allow you to test your hypothesis about the challenges your customer might be facing.

    Then, listen to what your customer has to say. [2]

    Here’s an example.


    Hi, my name is James Dotson, and I’m with Infinity Document Reproduction Services. I

    noticed that your office is currently using the 2004 model of company Techmax copy and fax