Tag Archives: sales insider

Motivation from Within

May 16, 2018 by

I’d like to introduce the concept of the elephant and the rider. The elephant represents the emotional self, which is powerful, massive, momentum-generating, and typically gets to where it wants to go.  The rider represents the spiritual self, which is purposeful, self-aware, and desires great things in life. Most people go through life allowing the elephant to go wherever it wants.  In other words, people behave based on how they feel in the moment. The problem here is that the elephant does not want growth, which is difficult, challenging, risky, and painful. Rather the elephant fears failure, wants instant gratification, and desires “comfort-zone” living. Without guidance from an engaged rider, the elephant won’t lead a life of success. The elephant will choose to go down a path that leads to incredible success but is filled with hunters, pits, traps, nets, and spears, instead of a path that leads to conformity and status quo but is filled with safety, laziness, easy and comfort. 

As a salesperson, do not let the elephant go where it wants to go. Steer it down the path that leads to success.  Wake up the rider so that its power will drive the elephant towards success.  

It’s a multi-step process. The first thing needed is a vision/mission statement that clarifies a purpose for living. This will ignite a passion that will trump the feeling of fear and resignation that typically keeps people from pursing success. Second, take sales one step at a time.  When the elephant looks to the summit of the mountain from the mountain’s base, it will become overwhelmed. Give the elephant manageable milestones that are achievable and well-mapped out, and the elephant starts to move up the mountain. Third, define key performance metrics that prove progress is being made, because if the elephant is to sustain the effort up the mountain, it needs to know that movement towards the summit is happening. The emotion that keeps the elephant climbing is called fulfillment. Last, condition this enormous beast with a predefined reward system that provides treats every time a milepost is reached. This causes the elephant to become your biggest ally in the pursuit of success.

Knowing true purpose is crucial to awakening the rider so that it will steer the elephant. In an effort to define this, here are six questions to ponder:

  1. What were you born to do?
  2. How do you want to be remembered?
  3. What makes you wake up and go to work?
  4. How can you become more self-aware?
  5. What gets you excited and passionate?
  6. What impact are you having on others?

The answers to these questions can help the rider steer the elephant in the right direction.


Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

The Science of Selling

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that the U.S. would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In October 1969, Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong into space and he set foot on the moon. How did NASA, never having completed this task before, have success without disaster? By understanding the science and testing everything on Earth according to the rules of science, NASA was able to predict how things would work on the way to the moon and the result was Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong.  We can leverage that same science when it comes to selling, and, if understood, can use it to predict the outcomes of sales calls.

Most prospects have a negative perception about salespeople. “They are pushy, arrogant, self-seeking, annoying…” are just some of the adjectives given. I know, because I have asked many times. However, the science behind human behavior and communication has been understood by psychologists for decades. The method of Transactional Analysis, Dr. Eric Burne explains, states that to generate trust and bonding with other people one must behave with humility and vulnerability, which is the opposite of how the typical salesperson behaves in a sales call.

The DISC behavior assessment, developed by psychologist William Marston, defines four distinct behavior styles of people.To win favor of a prospect, behave like they do, not like you do.

Neuro-linguistic programing, created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder is the science of communication.

To win favor of prospects, mirror and match the way they communicate.

Sir Isaac Netwon gave us the laws of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion; every action has an equal and opposite reaction. These laws spill over into human behavior. The best chance of getting a prospect to say “yes” is to take this prospect to “no.” The action of taking a prospect to “no” will often be met by the prospect with an equal and opposite reaction of moving toward “yes.”

I can’t give any one scientist the credit for emotional motivation, but that doesn’t diminish the power behind this scientific truth: People buy for their own reasons and these reasons are driven emotionally. Most sales conversations revolve around intellectual information such as features, benefits, price, and terms and conditions, and the conversation never leaves the realm of the intellect. Take the conversation to the emotional level and then prospects start buying from you even if your price is high.

I am a scientist by education (bachelor’s degree in engineering) and I love the science of selling. However, for many years I did not know it nor did I pursue it, so I had to work much harder to win sales. Sales professionals should make it part of their personal development to learn and then own the scientific rules as they apply to the world of selling.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Best Sales Call Ever

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I regularly get feedback from clients about sales calls. Recently a client came to me and said, “I had the best sales call ever!” What she told me warmed my heart because the call was almost effortless, the signed agreement was in her hands in record time, and the customer stayed in her selling system from beginning to end.

The sales process for this particular opportunity dragged out longer than my client wanted. Finally, the presentation was scheduled with the decision maker, (if it’s with anybody else, you are wasting time), and as she headed to the appointment, she said to herself, “I really don’t care if I get this business or not.” This mindset allowed her to relax and be objective when the presentation began. She began the meeting by setting the expectation: She was going to review the proposal, which would sell for the expected amount, and, if the prospect liked it, he would sign it and implementation would begin. There was clarity of purpose which came off as professionalism to the prospect, and, of course, the prospect agreed to the contract and the
presentation began.

There were about a half-dozen items to present on the proposal. My client started with the first item and presented how this item addressed the need of the prospect. It went well. She went to the next item and presented how this item addressed the need of the prospect. At that point, the prospect said, “Stop! I’ll take it!” He immediately signed his name to the proposal. My client’s one-hour presentation was over in 10 minutes. She planned on “closing” the prospect, but he simply bought it. When she returned to her office, even her coworker was surprised to see her so soon. Smiling from ear to ear she tells him, “Got it!” No pressure, no sweating, no haggling over price, no need to close the prospect—this is what the best sales call ever looks like.

Here are some key techniques my client had learned, and then used in this call:

1. Before the presentation started, she thought to herself, “So what if I don’t get this business. I have a meat-lover’s pizza in the trunk,” which means she behaved as if she is financially independent. This mindset eliminates pressure and frees up the salesperson to ask tough questions and take risks.

2. She had a deep understanding of her client’s problems and budget, which she reviewed prior to presenting the proposal to make sure there were no roadblocks on the way to the order.

3. She got a commitment to purchase before presenting her intellectual property. The proposal had to be met with 100 percent satisfaction from the prospect, but if it did, he would buy.

4. My client shut her mouth when the prospect said, “I’ll take it!” She let him sign the proposal and then thanked him for the business and left.

Sales should always be fun regardless if you win or lose. Yes, this is easier said than done. Follow the aforementioned system to start having the best sales calls ever.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Sales Insider

May 20, 2017 by

There is a list of basic rules of truth that govern the survival of businesses everywhere. While there may be debate on which rules belong on the list, one rule that all businesses owners and managers agree on is: Nothing happens in business until somebody sells something.

Thus, the high-performance salesperson is one of the most sought-after professionals in business. However, perhaps the foundational rule listed above does not apply when consulting is the product for sale. Do consultants need to be professional salespeople or can they reside safely in their core competency and grow the business from there? This is what we will examine.

Let’s say ABC Consulting provides mechanical and electrical consulting services to architects and consumers. The owner, “Dave,” employs a couple of drafters and a couple of professional engineers. He admits there is little development and/or training in the area of business development for the people that carry the “sales” responsibility. They do get training on the area of expertise in which the company consults: Seminars, webinars, ASHRAE-sponsored trainings, P.E. exams, vendor-sponsored trainings, and lots of self-study on system application, building codes, load calculations, energy, LEED, building commissioning, and on and on would accurately summarize the annual training regimen for Dave and his team. And why not? A big reason customers hire ABC is because they are experts in their field.

Dave was reflecting on how his business remained somewhat flat the previous year despite a record number of proposals going out the door. Historically, the primary source of new business came from his referral network. The owner has a vision for growth, so, in addition to the referral business, he decided that responding to as many requests for proposals (RFPs) as possible would be the way to accomplish his vision. Reflecting back, it did the opposite. The business revenue did not go down, but all the hours his employees invested in preparing RFPs (that in the end did not turn into new business) increased overhead and cut into margins. He instead got lots of late nights away from families and overtime hours from his employees, which has slightly damaged morale. Now, Dave ponders, what will be his business development strategy going forward?

Consultants are experts in their fields, and the customers want their expertise because it brings tremendous value to the customers’ business. However, customers don’t want to pay for the consultants’ expertise. So, they simply ask to have it for free, and one form of this ask is the RFP. The problem is that once the customer owns the consultant’s expertise, the customer has the power. The information can be compared to competitors who will adopt all good ideas and do the work for less or, worse yet, the customer will take the ideas and do the work in-house. Therefore, it can be said that responding to RFPs is not selling.

I would agree that professional sales should not be the leading competency for the architect, consulting engineer, or other professional service provider. But this does not diminish the importance of having a system for selling. Here are some simple steps of a selling system that the consultant or architect can begin to implement in their business.


1. Agree Upfront

Before doing any free work for a customer, get a clear understanding from them that if you do the work they are requesting to their satisfaction, you get something in return. If they don’t give you a clear path to getting their business, the wise decision would be to decline. For RFPs, if you don’t have an upfront agreement, it is too risky to pour your work into them only to have it auctioned off.


2. Why Would This Customer Hire You?

Prepare a list of great questions that will fully examine the emotional motivations this customer would have to hire a consultant. Pain is a huge motivator in people, and if your questions uncover the pains the customer is experiencing, you will have a big advantage in winning their business. If a doctor examined me and determined that I have a sickness that could be fatal without surgery, I am not going to ask the doctor for a bid and then get two more and go with the low-cost bidder.


3. Deal With Money Upfront

Ask the customer if they have money early in your conversation. Otherwise, you may do a bunch of work for a customer that, in the end, is broke. They must prove to you they have the ability to pay and a willingness to give their money to you, or else you will respectfully end the conversation.


4. Who Makes the Decisions Around Here?

Ask the customer who is involved in the selection process how the process will be handled. If you are going to present a solution, it is important that those who see it have the capacity to buy it. It is incredibly deflating to learn, after working out the solution, that the person who received it can’t make the decision to buy it.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

The Art of Selling

January 4, 2017 by

Sales is a great career option for the professional businesswoman. Through sales, women can escape gender inequalities in pay, since sales commissions are based on what is sold. The sales venue offers unlimited potential for upside growth. In sales, performance is the equalizing metric that objectively defines success for the professional man or woman equally. Nevertheless, it is true that the marketplace may not treat the professional saleswoman with absolute equality.

One important decision must be made for the saleswoman to defy the odds. That is: make a deliberate effort to master the art of selling.

Regardless of gender, almost all sales engagements start like this: The prospect (i.e., the buyer) takes the position of authority, and the salesperson takes the position of submission. I call this “selling from your knees or begging for business.” This posture is never favorable for the sales professional since this often results in salespeople providing free services and information to prospects that may not result in actual purchases.

High performing sales professionals demonstrate their expertise by tactfully establishing equal business stature between themselves and the prospect. For the female sales professional, establishing equal business stature can be more challenging, mainly because of traditional societal pressure for women (and saleswomen) to adopt a submissive role.

All professionals, men and women alike, have their own sets of challenges to overcome. Those who can overcome their challenges enter into the elite group of high performers. Sales professionals spanning all across the gender spectrum must understand the challenges in their market. Understanding any particular challenge is one step toward success, because the challenges can be overcome.

Sales is the highest compensated profession on the planet. It also can be the most challenging profession. It is the women and men of the sales profession who are the frontline soldiers in business. They take all the shots and rejection, and then they repeat the slog again the next day. If you enter the battlefield unprepared and/or undertrained, you will get blown up a lot…which can figuratively (and psychologically) tear you to pieces.

Saleswomen, you must make the decision to invest in yourself and get the same kind of rigorous training in sales as one gets from school or college when pursuing a degree. In other words, get your bachelor’s degree in sales. The self-investment will most likely have the highest ROI compared to any other investment you could make.

Now, let’s visit Marcy*. Marcy is a professional saleswoman who works in the commercial flooring business and is an expert in her field. She works very hard, puts in a lot of hours, and prepares a lot of proposals. But she earns a wage that is less than what she wants. Over and over, Marcy demonstrates her expertise by pulling together information, doing the research, bringing in the right products, and delivering a workable solution even on the most challenging of projects. Then, to her horror, she learns that her prospect has auctioned off her intellectual property to a lower priced supplier.

In such a predicament, the prospect was in control (the authority), and Marcy was the servant (the submissive). The sales engagement had begun with the prospect calling Marcy and asking, “Can you put together a proposal for this project?” For weeks, I had been instructing Marcy to demand equal business stature by responding with, “I have the highest prices in town.” But Marcy was not comfortable with such an assertive stance. For years, she had been playing the role of servant.

Finally, she got out of her comfort zone and started to push back. Something remarkable started to happen. Prospects didn’t hang up on her. They didn’t always pursue the lower priced suppliers. Instead, they wanted to know why her prices were higher, which then began a sales conversation where Marcy was in control.

The prospects that wanted low price moved on without consuming Marcy’s time in proposal preparation. Those were the same prospects that would have put her (submissive) to work, consumed her time, and still auctioned off her information to the low price provider. Her new posture funneled the price shoppers to her competitors and funneled the prospects that wanted her value into an equal business stature sales conversation (which, more often than not, resulted in business). The marketplace saw a sales professional in Marcy and made no judgment based on the fact that she is a woman. That is a real manifestation of gender neutrality in the sales profession.

It is you—not your product or your gender—that make your business great. It is here where investment should be made to grow your business. So, what is your answer? Are you a professional saleswoman?

*Marcy is a composite character inspired by real people.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B.