Log in

ISM Article

The Best Offense is to Ask a Question

22 Oct, 2007 By: Pat Evans imageSource

The Best Offense is to Ask a Question

Want to learn how to sell anybody? Good. Why not learn from someone who
can sell YOU! Let’s choose something simple like a pen.

Let’s pretend you are a prospect and to make it interesting your job is NOT
to buy a pen from me. Remember, don’t buy from me.

Pat: “Hi, my name is Pat Evans. What is your name?” [I ask while
shaking your hand]

You: “Bill Johnson.”

Pat: “Bill, this is the pen you use now correct?” [Gesturing toward
your BIC pen.]

You: “Yes.”

Pat: “What do you like about the pen?”

You: “It’s dependable.”

Pat: “Great. What do you not like about it?"

You: “I tend to lose the cap.”

Pat: “Fine.” [I pull a more expensive pen from my pocket.] “Which of
the two pens looks more professional?”

You: “The one you are selling.”

Pat: “OK. Please allow me to summarize. This pen [I point toward the
pen I am selling] is more professional looking and has a retractable point,
which cannot be lost therefore it will last longer. Do you agree?”

You: “Yes.” [Of course you agree. I ascertained that a few sentences

[I lean to my left and pull a plain white piece of paper from my briefcase. I
write PURCHASE AGREEMENT in large letters at the top and begin to fill in your
name under PURCHASER. Dead Silence ensues for 30 seconds and then a voice is

You: “What are you doing?” [You look perturbed.]    



[Never ever say, “I am writing up a purchase agreement for you to sign.” Do
you know why? If the potential pen customer is a type-A personality, he or she
may blow up at you. I’m talkin’ ballistic. This is why sales reps are afraid to
ask for the order.]

Pat: [I recommend saying] “I’m simply writing down what we have talked
about and I am going to leave it with you.” [Do not say “OK?”]

[I look down and continue to write for 10 seconds more. I then look up. You
now seem more relaxed. My question to you is who is in control at this point?
Yes, I agree. Me; and type-A personality is not mad. Most reps are afraid to go
for the close. They believe it is a timing issue and they may be too early. I
have been closing sales fast for over 31-years and I still do not know when the
best time is so I attempt to close very, very early and often.]

Pat: [I now flip the paper around and present it to you.] “Is this
everything we discussed?”                    

You: [Scans the doc.] “Yes.”

Pat: “Well, if you will please sign the order I would love to have you
as a customer.”

You: “I do not want to sign.”

Pat: [I reach over and slowly pull the paper back so it now sits in
front of me.] “If your firm was proceeding to acquire the pens would your name
appear on this purchase  order or would someone else have  to
authorize the purchase?” 

[This question allows an “out” for the prospect. He simply states someone
else must sign and believes this answer will disconnect the sales process.]

You: “I would need to get another person to sign.”

Pat: “When would you receive confirmation concerning approval?”

You: “One week.”

[I write on the purchase agreement “THIS ORDER IS NULL AND VOID IF BILL
CANCELS IT WITHIN 10 DAYS.” I then slide the document back in front of you. This
close is called a contingency close. Please note one of the largest dollar
investments a typical citizen will make is a house. The housing industry is huge
and contingency selling is a standard way to close a deal in the housing
industry. My firms always allowed this type of close.]

Pat: “Please acknowledge the terms.”

You: “I do not want to sign.”

Pat: “That is perfectly fine.” [I then pull the purchase agreement
back into my possession.] “You have said the replacement pens are more
professional looking and will last longer. I am offering the better pens at a
discount so you only pay the reduced price, which is the same cost as your
present BIC pens. I am not asking you to order the pens from me. I’m requesting
your acknowledgement of the terms so I can hold the price for 10 days.” [I slide
the doc back.] “Could you please initial and date the doc so I can hold the

The prospect usually starts to laugh because he now believes he would like to
sign. To not sign now seems out of character. He signs and I have another
fervent convert.

As you can see, the best and only true offense a sales person has is
questions. I ask questions early and often. I never presume. I simply ask
questions. I always ask two or more questions, but once I receive two positive
answers concerning the product… I close the deal. Most sales reps sign a new
customer by getting a signature on paper or an acknowledgement over the
Internet. The faster you can pull a purchase agreement out or start conversing
about money issues, the faster the conversation will lead to a close.

You may think this approach is aggressive, yet to achieve any sale you must
follow these steps. You agree the longer a close takes the more things can go
wrong. Another competitor could discover the potential deal while cold calling
for example.

When is the appropriate time to close? Don’t worry about having perfect
timing or being a psychic. Start talking about price as soon as you can. You
will know faster if your prospect has the funds allocated and whether he thinks
your retail price is fair.

Managers who have reviewed my firms’ techniques thought high-tech sales had
to be long and drawn out. Consultative selling was the correct way they said.
Most of my sales people had a minimum of 10 years in the shipping software
integration business, but we had cut our teeth in the knock-on-doors
mailing/shipping arena. You will find out that once a prospect actually realizes
that you do know what is best for him, he will want to talk price as soon as
possible. Close faster. Do it now.

WebinarCase Studies and White PapersSand Exchange Blog

imageSource Magazine Quick Links
Upcoming Events
ITEX Expo & Conference
©2015 Questex, LLC. All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited
Please send any technical comments or questions to our webmaster