As I walk through the Business section of Barnes and Noble or scroll through the Business titles of (you guess which one I do more regularly) I always smile at the titles that guarantee MORE SALES!!! Titles like, Exceptional Selling, Think and Sell like a CEO and Achieve Sales Excellence.   Yes, you too can learn how to close sales for only $21.99 and 16 hours of your life.

    …or I can tell you the 4 words that will ALWAYS work….ready?


    Some great people do the first two words.  It is a rare sales person who remembers the last two.  And they are the ones that really matter.  See, id doesn’t matter how good you are at asking the right questions or even finding the right person to ask those questions of (called “Account Penetration” in most sales books.)  Funny thing is, it works for so many things besides sales: dating, for example.  Or being a good parent, a good friend or doing marketing research.  Want to be interesting on Facebook or twitter?  Use the four words.

    Here’s an example.  Let’s say you are a sales person at an apparel store in a mall.  If you think you are doing it right, you might have a conversation like this:

    Salesperson:      “Thanks for coming in today. Can I help you?”

    Customer:             “I need a blue blouse to go with this jacket.”

    Salesperson:         “Our blouses are on the wall to the right. We are having a buy two 2 get 1 free sale on denim this week.  Also, we are now carrying a new line of sweaters that are 10% off when you sign up for our mailing list.  And Tuesday is senior discount day for customers over 65.”

    Customer:               “OK”

    Did the salesperson listen?  Technically.  The Customer browses through the blouses, maybe she completes the transaction but mostly wonders if she looks over 65.  What a missed opportunity to ASK QUESTIONS, THEN LISTEN!  A successful do-over would sound like this:

    Salesperson:      “Thanks for coming in today. Can I help you?”

    Customer:           “I need a blue blouse to go with this jacket.”

    Salesperson:       “Sure, all our blouses are on the wall to the right. Does it have to be a blouse, because we also have some tanks and T’s in blue that might give that jacket a more casual feel? ”

    Customer:             “I don’t know.  I have an internal interview.”

    Salesperson:        “That sounds exciting!  and stressful – I can understand why you want to look your best.  Can I ask what kind of work you do?  Is your office very formal?”

    Customer:              “I don’t know. The only time people wear suits is when they are interviewing.  Everyone I interview with already knows me.”

    Salesperson:             “Well, they say to always dress one level up.  You could get a blouse for the interview and then a couple of contrasting T for when you get the job, of course it is up to you.  The T’s are buy one, get one half off. But if you pair either one of them up with a sophisticated necklace like this one, you will look and feel polished not matter which one you choose.”

    Customer considers her choice then grabs all the items and completes the transaction.

    Salesperson:              “Smart move to get the T’s at this price.  We usually put the blouses on sale twice a year, so remember that in June – or I could put your name on the mailing list and you’d get notified the next time they go on sale, if you’d like.  Good luck at your interview!”

    (I see the start of a relationship – don’t you?  The salesperson is becoming a trusted advisor to this customer.)