Sales: The Art Of Getting People To Do What You Want

I just attended a Toastmasters District meeting – that is of all the club leaders in Toronto. One of the presenters, Bob Weese, a seasoned Toastmaster, gave an excellent presentation about how one should promote Toastmasters to new attendees at meetings. His presentation reminded me of a few things about sales. I wanted to set out my thoughts in this article.

First of all, what is sales? It is applied psychology. It is the use of psychology to motivate people to buy. More precisely it is understanding how people think and using that understanding to help them decide to act in their best interests. It is not about selling something to a buyer who does not want it. It is the process of identifying a need in a prospect and then helping that prospect address that need.

How do you do that?

Sales is an asking questions process, not a presentations process. In sales it is not what you say that matters, it is what the buyer says. Again, it’s not what you say, it’s what the buyer says, that’s important in the process. Selling is not about presenting solutions to an innocent buyer. It is, instead, asking a series of questions resulting in the buyer convincing himself or herself that what you have to offer is what they want. It is not a persuading exercise. It is a guiding the buyer exercise in which you guide the buyer to say what is best for them in their own words and then getting them to act on those words.

It is a process that can be illustrated as follows:

Buyer -> Step 1: Frustration with the present -> Step 2: Assessing where the buyer is in the buying process at this moment -> 

Step 3: Imagining a better future -> Step 4: The price -> 

Step 5: Buying that future. 

Note the buyer is not buying a product or service, the buyer is buying a result that you will provide that buyer. The classic example is you are not selling a drill, you are selling holes that the drill will make for the buyer. Another classic is you are not selling the frying pan, you are selling the sizzle. In my world as an immigration lawyer, the buyer is not buying an immigration visa, the buyer is buying a better life for the buyer and his or her family. Put more accurately, the buyer is buying a hole-maker or buying a frying machine or buying a new, better life.

In this regard, money, or price, must always be the last passenger on the bus. Do not talk price until you have covered the other steps first, particularly need, or you will never sell. The magic answer to the premature question of “What’s the price (or cost),” is: Let’s put that question on the back burner for a moment. We’ll come back to it. Use it.

The key question at the beginning of the process is the WHY question. Why are you here? Why did you call? Why are you interested? Why do you ask? The answer to this question opens the door for you.

It tells you how to speak to the buyer about past frustrations and inadequacies. For example, the buyer says, “I came because I would like to learn how to speak better.” You say, “Really, why do you want to learn that?” You need to drive them deep into their own frustration to get them motivated to change. What has been holding you back? Why do you feel you need to speak better? What setbacks have you had? You need to cause the buyer to dwell on the past before you can launch them into the future.

To illustrate the point, imagine if today I met up with you and asked you whether you would like to buy one aspirin for ten dollars? Would you say, yes? Probably not. But imagine now, that you have been on a drinking binge for three days and just woken up with a pounding headache, exacerbated by someone who has been playing drums in an apartment next door for the last 12 hours. Would you likely buy an aspirin for ten dollars then?

What’s the difference? The need.

To uncover the need and remind the buyer of it, you need to ask about the buyer’s previous frustrations and setbacks. You need the buyer to relive them to motivate them to take action to make their lives better. It is important to take this step before moving forward in the sales process. Selling to someone who does not perceive a need is a futile exercise. But the important point is that we all have needs and all we need is to be reminded of them.

Once you have rooted out the need, a pivotal point arises. Now you need to establish where the buyer is in the buying process as he perceives it? The magic question here is: “On a scale from 1 to 10 in terms of speaking, or whatever it is you are selling, where would you place yourself at this moment?” Presumably the buyer will say something less than 10. This opens the door for you now to talk about the buyer’s future, assuming the buyer accepts what you have in mind as what the buyer is considering.

Here you can employ the buyer’s imagination. You can ask the buyer to imagine what it would be like, say a year from now, if the buyer joined Toastmasters, or bought your drill, or hired you to get an immigration visa. A simple admission of improvement is not enough. The admission has to be tacked down from all sides. Would it make the buyer better? Happier? Wealthier? More successful? More confident?  How would that make the buyer feel? What would the buyer’s family say?

Now it’s time for the price question. “How much does it cost?” Whenever the price comes up in a sales process it is time to return to the ‘why’ question. It is time to remind the buyer why the buyer is talking to you – the frustrations of the past. That is because price is always a matter of weighing your future promise against what other options the buyer has, including not doing anything. The buyer needs a “top up” in the motivation gas tank.

In my experience, it is always easier for a buyer to accept a price if it is presented as lower than an initial figure presented to the buyer. For example, if you say, “Well normally the cost of a new membership is $ 100, but right now we have a sale and the price is only $ 75,” that is easier than simply coming out with $ 100. That’s because when it comes to the price, all buyers brace themselves against what is coming next. It is easier to get the buyer to calculate the discount, than to face a flat statement of the cost. It also takes away one of the tools many buyers use in negotiations regarding the price, namely, are there any discounts?  If you are considering a discount for a buyer, always ask first when will the buyer pay? Take away any delays they may want to introduce before moving forward in that area. Ask them to pay the full amount up front as the bargain for any discount.

Usually the buyer raises some objections somewhere in this process, so it is worthwhile to spend a moment illustrating how to deal with them. The process can be illustrated as follows:

Objection -> isolation of the real objection -> confirmation that the buyer will buy if it is answered properly -> relabeling the objection as a ‘question’ -> re-framing the ‘question’ in a more favorable context -> addressing it -> confirming the matter is no longer a problem.

Let’s take an example.

After dealing with the buyer for some time and bringing the buyer to the end of the process, the buyer inserts an objection that, “The price is too high.”

Following the objection handling process outlined above, we take the following steps:

  1. We feed the objection back to the buyer: “The price is too high?”Supposing the buyer confirms, yes it is the price problem.
  2. We isolate the real objection: “Assuming for the moment we deal with the price adequately for you, is there any other reason why you would not want to proceed today?” If the answer is no, you go on to the next step. If the answer is yes, then you ask what is the other reason. You then drop the price and move on to whatever more important reason there is.
  3. We now re-label the objection as a question. “So you are asking about the price then, is that right?” Assuming a yes, we focus on that question. If no, we get the buyer to re-state the objection and we re-label that into a question.
  4. Re-frame the question. For example, you might ask about the objection to the price being high, “Compared to what?” Then continue by steering the buyer back into his or her past frustrations with the status quo. Address the buyer’s questions as best you can, for example, by breaking the price down into payments, or by comparing the price with the price of other alternatives favorably.
  5. Having tackled the objection, you then ask, “Does that answer your question adequately?” If yes, then go into your closing. If not, ask why not.

There are many tools one can use to be better at sales, such as those that can be found in materials like Fred Herman’s audio program Keep It Simple Salesperson, the book The Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar and the book The Art of Closing the Sale by Brian Tracy. Turn to them to become batter at this.

In the end you must close the sale. One of the best approaches is to put a pen and your sales agreement in front of the buyer and have them fill it out while you guide them through it. There are many others that can be found in the materials cited.

Sales is a fascinating business. One can spend their life in sales and not learn everything there is to learn. One definition I read of sales is that it is a ‘transfer of enthusiasm.’ That is a good one. What can be said about the process is that it is worthwhile to study and learn no matter what your profession or calling. I am hoping this article might help you in your work and life in some small way.









A Formula for a Happier life

Author, Young Professional

Andy J Semotiuk
Adviser to Young Professionals

If you are a cynic or devoted to a pessimistic view of life you can stop reading now because there is nothing here for you.  If on the other hand you are a normal person looking for ways to improve your life then this message is for you.

This is the most one of the most important blogs I have ever written. In this blog I want to pass on what I consider to be a magic formula for a happier life, healthier and more nourishing relationships and success in your career. It is not something I am making up. It is a synopsis of the work of many authors I have read and speakers who I saw over the course of my lifetime. It comes from people like Dale Carneigie, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, and Tom Hopkins. It has worked for me in my life and I hope it will work for you.

Here it is:

Every day of your life when you wake up in the morning say the following words out loud to yourself:
(Adapt the text to make it appropriate for you)

I am a man on fire with enthusiasm. I am a man shot out of a canon I am a man charged by a thousand batteries. I am a man struck by a huge lightening bolt. I am a man run by a powerful locomotive.

I am active, I am involved, I am interested, I am health conscious, I am on-the-go, I am growing.I am happy, I am healthy, I am wealthy, I feel good.

Every day I am healthier and healthier. Every day I am better and better. Every day I feel stronger and stronger.
I feel fantastic. I fee sensational. I feel incredible. I feel fabulous. I feel magnificent. I feel outstanding. I feel marvelous. I feel terrific. I feel amazing.

Wow! Isn’t it a great day to be alive? I feel good. Real good. Look out world because here I come.
Here I come – Mr. Fantastic!

It’s happening. Paste a big smile on that kisser and let’s go out there and give them the thrill of their lifetimes!

That’s it. Print off this message for yourself and try it for 30 days.
If it works, keep doing it. If not, crumple it up and throw it into the garbage can.

(If you want to turbocharge this exercise, take a piece of paper and write the words “I am…” on top of it Then make a list of every positive quality you have, for example, smart, caring, honest etc. Include every quality you can think of. Add reading this list out loud to yourself to your daily routine as well.)

Enemy: The Movie – What a Disaster

In my view the only thing Telefim Canada has ever done that merits any mention was its involvement with the movie The Rocket that featured the life story of Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadians. Most recently Telefilm Canada was involved in the movie Enemy that we went to see last Saturday night.

Enemy had no plot, consisted of a portrayal of what I assume was a man who was insane and was in some way involved with a spider. I assure you my wife and I tried as hard as we could to understand what was going on. Our search was hopeless for this movie truly was nothing short of a disaster.

Given that Telefilm Canada was behind Enemy and so many other useless films, in my view it is a complete waste of money for the government to fund Telefilm Canada. It makes little sense to spend taxpayers money subsidizing Canadian film makers who are bankrupt in ideas and incapable of coming up with a captivating story line. At least when these films are made by the private sector, the people who invest lose but the taxpayer is not on the hook. In that case, the investors will be the brake on whether or not a film is made. And that is the way it should be.

Ted Kennedy Part Two

I finished Ed Kline’s biography of Ted Kennedy over the weekend and feel I am now able to complete my assessment of his life and its meaning for Americans and his legacy.

Look, I’m no saint and I am not going to pretend that I know all there is to know about how to lead a perfect life. I accept that as a man Ted Kennedy also had the right to make mistakes, and that his life would not be free from sin either. I accept that a man can learn from his mistakes and become better over time and clearly Ted Kennedy fell into that category once his re-married and cleaned himself up a bit in the last say 15 years of his life. I accept that his was a legislative record in the Senate that few could match and that the name Lion of the Senate was an apt description of his role there. I am also mindful of the extraordinary burden Ted Kennedy had to carry as the last surviving son of the Kennedy household following the deaths of his brothers John and Robert. There was good reason to give him a lot of slack and credit for picking up the pieces of lives shattered by those assassinations. No doubt his life was not easy given the looming threat that he could fall victim to the same lunacy that took the lives of his brothers and other prominent leaders in American life.

That said and acknowledged, I still am troubled by the lack of consequences visited upon Ted Kennedy for his failings as described in the book by Ed Kline, particularly in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick caused by his drunken driving and evasion of responsibility and in the alleged rape by his nephew William Kennedy Smith of Patricia Bowman while Ted Kennedy romped around drunk and naked in their presence in the yard where the events occurred. Kennedy’s capacity to engage as many lawyers as necessary to evade responsibility for conduct clearly short of what any normal decent human being would exhibit is breath taking. His conviction that he was somehow ‘entitled’ to be in the Senate, his capacity to draw on the best medical doctors in the world in view of his statute, wealth and fame was to me unsettling.

My conclusion was that Ted Kennedy lived in a world where values such as responsibility to others who you have wronged, fidelity to promises you make to your loved ones, mindfulness of the consequences of your failings and working to correct such wrongs are subordinated to such values as money and the intoxicating power associated with high office and fame. In his world it seems money and power justify all else. Many people accept that premise but not all.

Author, Young Professional

Andy J Semotiuk
Adviser to Young Professionals


Ted Kennedy’s Life as a Role Model

Author, Young Professional

Andy J Semotiuk
Adviser to Young Professionals

I am reading a biography on Ted Kennedy written by Ed Kline.
The book is superb! While I am only half way through, I must
say at the moment that I don’t have must regard to Ted Kennedy
based on what is in the book. He grew up on the monstrous
dictates of his father Joseph Kennedy who basically planned out
the lives of his sons, he lived a life of leisure in terms of money,
he cheated on exams at Harvard, he essentially acquiesced to a
marriage with Joan, he was an alcoholic and a playboy. He
essentially recklessly ended up killing Mary Jo Kopechne and then
had the audacity to try and squirm out of responsibility.
What is there to admire bout him? Maybe the second half of the
book will give the reader more to admire but so far – ugly.
I guess the message to take from the book so far is that wealth,
even when added to fame, is not enough to make you a decent
human being.

The Young Professional – A New Career Guidance Book

They say you learn best by making mistakes and drawing lessons from them. No matter how long you live, however, you will not have enough time to learn everything there is to know. It only makes sense, therefore, to seek to learn from others who have been there before you. That is what this book will do for you. In this book, like a tour guide, I show you the best roads ahead since I have traveled there and know the terrain.

There are three good reasons why you should read this book.

Firstly, like a radar screen, this book helps you identify major goals that you should target in your career. It talks about how to develop your mission statement and how to stay focused on your unique abilities.

Author, Young Professional

Andy J Semotiuk
Adviser to Young Professionals

Secondly, the book provides you with a map to guide you through the minefield of the challenges of professional life. The book discusses how to deal with major issues such as organizing yourself and your office so you do not have problems with clients, your professional association or government agencies like the IRS. It talks about hiring good personnel that can make or break you and looks at ethical issues you will likely face sooner or later in your career.

Finally, like a gyroscope, this book will help you maintain balance between your career, family life and personal time. It will show you how to plan in a way that keeps these various parts of your life in harmony with each other.

The value of what you might learn from this book is that it is not based on untried academic theories. Instead the ideas I share here come from the practical world where I spent my career. I do not expect you to adopt every idea presented here but am hopeful there are at least some ideas you can put to use in your life right away.

Ultimately this book is about how you can be more successful in your career and happier in your life.

Two Lives Compared

Here is an article I just wrote that deals with the life story of one of the characters I mention in my book The Young Professional. I contrast his life with that of Nelson Mandela.

Author, Young Professional

Andy J Semotiuk
Adviser to Young Professionals

Two Lives Compared

Is it mere coincidence or is there really a connection between events developing in South Africa following the death of Nelson Mandela and the events in Ukraine regarding President Viktor Yanukovych’s failure to sign the accord with the European Union? Today, South Africans, and indeed all those who love freedom everywhere, embrace the legacy of the man who paid a high price for the sake of South African liberty by sitting in jail for 27 years. Sadly, however, Ukrainians and those who love freedom everywhere, have all but forgotten the legacy of Danylo Shumuk (pronounced Shoo-mook), a man who also paid a high  price for the sake of Ukrainian liberty by sitting in jail for 40 years. In view of the events of the last few days, it is worth comparing the legacies of these two men.

I first learned of Nelson Mandela when I served as a United Nations correspondent in New York in the 1970s. By then, the international campaign lobbying for his release was well under way. Less known, but also someone who was beginning to gain recognition, was Danylo Shumuk. The latter first came to my attention in 1972 when I was reading a Time magazine article. I remember how hopeless both situations seemed as I read about the two men. They were both serving long sentences in jail while their supporters struggled to focus world attention on their plights.

Each leader was initially involved with the communist party of his country. In the case of Mandela, although committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, led a sabotage campaign against the Apartheid government. Many years earlier Shumuk, became a devout communist and in January of 1929 was arrested for his underground activities in Western Ukraine, then under Polish rule.

In each case the men ultimately abandoned communist ideals in their quest to help their people.  In Mandela’s case, his 27-year prison sentence influenced his thinking and returned him to his non-violent principles. In Shumuk’s case, having served 10 years in prison, he gained his release with the outbreak of World War II. He was conscripted into the Red Army and then sent out to the Western Front. His entire military unit was encircled by the Germans, but he managed to escape and make his way back to his native village. It was this journey and the stories he heard from ordinary, common, salt-of-the-earth people that changed him. He had long heard of Stalinist atrocities, such as the 1932-1933 state-imposed genocide that killed some seven million Ukrainians. But it was his journey home and meetings with his fellow countrymen that forced him to face a moment of truth in his life in which he turned his back on his communist ideology and instead embraced the goal of establishing a free and democratic state. He joined the underground to fight against both Hitler and Stalin and was then arrested by Soviet authorities.

Like Mandela, Shumuk reflected on his life while in jail. In the case of Mandela, he realized that hatred of his oppressors was something he had to overcome to lead his country to freedom. In Shumuk’s case he reflected on his life and in his memoirs he wrote, “I have always known that my place under any totalitarian society is in the concentration camp.” And verily, it was – whether Nazi or Soviet.

Over the course of the next 25 years Shunuk lived through the following events in Soviet concentration camps: the end of World War II; the Korean War, Nakita Khrushchev’s rise to power in the Soviet Union in the 1950s; the building of the Berlin Wall; the Vietnam War; the arrest of Nelson Mandela in South Africa; the assassination of President Kennedy in the 1960s; the resignation of Richard Nixon following Watergate in the 1970s; the arrest of Anatoly Sharansky in the Soviet Union; John Lennon’s assassination in the streets of New York, and the disasters of Chernobyl and the space shuttle Challenger in the 1980s. Through all of these events, Danylo Shumuk languished in Soviet concentration camps not for what he did, but for the ideals of democracy and freedom that he stood for and symbolized.

It took an international campaign to gain the release of both prisoners. In the case of Mandela, his release came in 1990 after 27 years. In the case of Shumuk, a campaign to secure his release gained momentum when Amnesty International, the world-wide human rights organization, declared him to be the world’s longest imprisoned prisoner of conscience in the 1970s. In the years that followed, an international campaign held together by a string of volunteers from the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Israel, and Japan, worked tirelessly on his behalf to finally set Shumuk free in 1987. I had the opportunity to meet him when he arrived in the West and then to accompany him to a meeting of the American Bar Association where he spoke in San Francisco at their annual meeting.

In the case of Mandela, a man I never had the good fortune to meet but who I admired very much, his freedom led to a transformation of South African society and ultimately to the abolition of Apartheid and his election to the Presidency of that country. In the case of Shumuk, his release in 1987 was a crack in the Soviet foundation that ultimately led to the independence of his country, but he was not embraced by his people in the same way Mandela was.

Mandela lived to see his society face its past by creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses in South Africa. In the case of Shumuk, following a brief stay in Canada after his release, he returned to his native Ukraine when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. By then, however, his native sons and daughters, as well as the world at large, had all but forgotten him. He died and was buried there. To this day his nation has not faced the truth about its past. No doubt that is one reason why people are demonstrating in the streets of Kyiv today.

In short, both countries were blessed to have such steadfast leaders. Both leaders deserve accolades for their sacrifices on behalf of their people. Both leaders left powerful legacies worthy of being remembered. For South Africans, the time has come to say goodbye. For Ukrainians, the time has come to remember their leader once again.