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Back to Basic Selling: Keep the Lines Open

“Timing is as important to the salesperson as to the professional actor on stage.”

Back to Basic Selling by Robert F. Taylor, page 101

There was a famous scene in the movie Cool Hand Luke where the prison warden knocked Paul Newman into a ditch while saying in a threatening tone, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

I always remember that scene, but I’ve put a new twist on it when it comes to sales. When it comes to sales communication is not the problem. Establishing the right environment so that communication can take place is the issue.

Click on the book to grab your own copy of "Back to Basic Selling".

Click on the book to grab your own copy of “Back to Basic Selling”.

Perhaps I am stretching today’s quote a bit, but I see a very similar message. You may have all of the skills necessary after isolating the potential prospect, but if you prematurely launch into your sales pitch, you will destroy the momentum you have been developing up to this point.

If you haven’t done your homework;

if you haven’t set the stage;

if you haven’t asked permission to ask appropriate questions;

if you haven’t listened and taken detailed notes;

if you haven’t addressed the specific needs of the prospect;

All before telling people what you think, you just shot yourself in the foot.

The sad reality is that most people do not set the stage appropriately and they simply wait for their turn to talk. They often finish sentences for other people and they don’t keep their mind open for complete and total understanding. This is what clearly differentiates an amateur from a professional salesperson.

Here’s a little exercise designed to help your professionalism. Like many other exercises, it is easier said than done:

When you find yourself in conversation with a prospect or client, allow them to completely finish their thoughts. Once they have done so, mentally count a full three beats before responding. This will clearly indicate that

1. you have been listening, and

2. what you are about to say has been given some thought.

Professionalism in any line of work does not come easily. Starting today, practice your timing by giving pause with your conversations with others.


Mike presents a business-building webinar on the third Thursday of every month sponsored by AmaWaterways. To receive monthly invitations send Mike an email with the words “business training” in the Subject Box. You will also receive a link to the recorded version.

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