Every Sale Closes

Each time we have a sales conversation, there is a close. The question is who closes.  Is it the prospect who asks for more time, delaying a decision, or the sales person who moves the prospect to a firm yes or no.  Most people do not want to say no directly, so they delay.  I have to speak to my spouse, or my business partner.  I need to think about it for a week, or a month, or a year.  The timing isn’t right.  How do you know what is a legitimate request and what is a disguised no?

This is one of the topics we will be discussing at my upcoming workshop, A Confused Mind Never Buys – Bringing Clarity and Focus to Your Sales Conversations on Thursday, September 24 from 9am-11am in the IMSA classroom at 1871.

At this workshop, you will learn how to identify objections (hint:  time and money are never the real objections), learn how to ask questions to qualify a prospect, and learn how to identify prospects who are ready to buy.

Tickets are available on Event Brite at:



Call Mary Dombrowski at 773.426.2182 or email mary@marydombrowski.com

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A Confused Mind Never Buys: Bringing Clarity and Focus to Your Sales Conversations

How many of us start spewing a laundry list of all we can do when asked the question, “What do you do?” Many clients I work provide a wide variety of services and too often confuse themselves as to what is right to offer in any given situation. People seek to categorize and understand. When we list a litany of services or solutions, we immediately present confusion in a prospect’s mind, and a confused mind never buys.  The key is to provide clarity and focus for the prospect, and you do that by asking questions.

We are programmed from an early age to answer a question posed to us. Yet one of the keys to success in sales is to break yourself of the habit and to use that knowledge in your conversations. Asking questions is what allows you to garner the information you need to position yourself and your services as the solution to a prospect’s problem (assuming you do actually have a solution to the problem.)

One client had the opportunity to meet with the management team of a large organization. It was an opportunity to build a long-term and lucrative engagement. There was only one problem. Questions were not asked in advance to understand who is attending the meeting, what their concerns may be, and how a decision to proceed will be made. Instead, my client went into the meeting and talked about all the things his company could do and all the ways they could work together. The meeting ended with no tangible outcomes or next step and my client wondering what went wrong (this was before we started working together).

Asking questions accomplishes two goals. One, you bring specificity and focus to the prospect and to your conversation. Two, you can be creative in designing a solution. When asked what do you do, it’s perfectly acceptable to say something like, “Well that depends. Let me ask you a few questions before I answer that question.” Or, “I help business owners (or whomever). Let’s talk a bit further to help me understand more about your situation and see if there’s a fit.” The prospect will appreciate that you aren’t just seeking to sell something, and that you want to hear in their own words about the challenges being faced. The more information you can gather, the more informed your answer. Their answers, by the way, also give you market feedback allowing you to be ahead of the curve in filling a need.

Some of my favorite discovery questions include:

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing your business right now?

How long have you had that challenge?

What’s stopped you from fixing it in the past?

What has changed that makes you want to fix it now?

How committed are you to resolving the challenge?

What happens if you don’t fix the problem?

Obviously these require some amending to suit your specific service or product offering. The key is to have the prospect speak to the challenge and the pain being caused. Helping bring light to their pain point, and having the prospect articulate it in her own words gives you the information you need to position yourself as the credible solution provider.

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Embracing Sales

A client of mine recently commented that he didn’t want an email going out to be “too salesy.”  Why not?  What is bad about being open with our clients and prospects that we want to sell them products or services they need?  Why hide that we are in business to help their business grow and prosper, and that our business grows and prospers in so doing?

When did sales become such a loaded word?

I have been in business all of my adult life, working up from an administrative assistant to product manager, VP marketing, business owner, and now a sales and business development consultant.  All of my career has been surrounded and often in support of, or in conjunction with, sales people.  Yet it was only in the last 5 years that I made the decision to truly master sales.  Prior to that, sales held no interest for me.  I didn’t want to be in that role. I didn’t think badly of them, and I also see I wasn’t bold enough to put myself on the line as they did.

Then I had an epiphany and realized mastering sales was the ticket to my freedom.  Being in corporate for much of my career, I saw first-hand how little stability there was.  At any moment, you could be let go or close to retirement when your 401K tanked.  It seemed the higher you rose, the larger the target was on your back.  Cynical, I suppose.  But, also true.

I am a firm believer that we all need to treat ourselves as brands, as individual entities and take control of our careers, whether we are currently employed by another or self-employed.  And mastering sales is one way to do that.

Why don’t people master sales?  Fear is big part of it – fear of rejection, fear of ridicule, fear of not being good at it or seeming foolish in front of another, fear of being really good at it and feeling you are manipulating another (you could be, but not if you’re doing sales from a place of service).

Getting good at sales requires you to face your own demons, and conquer them.  There is a personal and professional freedom that comes from mastering sales.  You learn to like yourself.  You learn not to care what other people think (seriously).  And, you learn to actually enjoy helping others achieve their goals by your work together.

Think about it. What’s there to be afraid of?

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