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The One Factor That Drives Most Buying Decisions

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A friend of mine recently had the need to change his company car. There was a massive choice for him in the price range that he had been given, so he had to narrow the choice down using a series of questions. Based on his chosen criteria, he judged which would be the best car for him to go for.

Having made the choice of car, he then had to decide which leasing agency he would go to. The internet threw up around nine sites that enticed him towards their special deals. He thought the choice would be easy; it proved to be anything but!

In discussions with me, my friend said he wished he knew which agency would be the best for him to go with. Prices were more or less equal for the car he had chosen, but the actual agency choice was proving far more difficult.

I asked him what would make him decide in the end. He said it would be the one that made him feel most confident. How would he know? By the quality of the website, the ease of contacting the company, the amount of information available and the trust that he felt in their back-up services.

I then asked him to sum up in one sentence what would make him choose a specific agency. He said ‘the one that offers the least risk!”

This got me thinking. When buyers make decisions to buy, they have obviously covered a lot of ground before they make that choice. The word decision comes from the Latin word meaning “to cut off from”. In other words, when a decision is made, you ‘cut off from’ any other alternative. Your choice is final. You have decided.

(By the way, if you make a decision and then regret it, or have buyer’s remorse, you haven’t really made the decision, because you haven’t cut off from all other alternatives…you still are un-decided.)

So, one of the factors that influence decision-making in most buyers’ minds is the aspect of risk-reduction.

In many ways this is more important than the costs of solutions. For example, would you always buy the cheapest product available? Most of you would say no. Why? Because you appreciate that along with cheap price comes a sacrifice of quality.

Cheap doesn’t always equate to good value. There comes a point where the price line on the graph and the quality line cross over; the lowering of price always has a detrimental affect on how you perceive the product or service.

A lower price for most people may mean a saving in some respects. But it also opens the door to questions that would cause concern or anxiety in the buyer’s mind. Questions like;

‘Will this product really do what it says it will do? What happens if it breaks down? Have I got confidence that it will perform in the way the brochure said it would?’

These legitimate questions are the result of the risk you are taking by buying cheap. Most people would rather pay a little bit more to negate the risks they would be taking by buying too cheaply.

My friend decided to go with the agency that gave him the most confidence and the least risk. By making that choice, it made him feel less anxious about the whole buying experience. He chose on the basis of what would make him feel good in the long-term. I called him before writing this piece and he said the car had been delivered on time, in perfect condition and with the minimum of fuss. He feels he made the right decision.

Think of your customers and how they make decisions. How could you minimise or eliminate the risks involved in making buying-decisions? If you can answer that question, you open up many more opportunities to help customers achieve the results they want and need.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

Have you downloaded my latest report “The Sales Person’s Crisis”? Over 10,000 sales pros have. Click on the image below to find out why your very existence as a sales person is in doubt…

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3 Different Ways To Sell Your Products – Which Is Best For You?

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If you search on Amazon for books on selling, the list goes on for ever.  The advice out there is profound, in its complexity and number, and much of it is relevant only in certain cases or when you are working in certain conditions.

Salespeople in general are always looking for how to improve their results, whether this be in productivity or in profitability. There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes, so much of what you will read and digest will have to be personalised by yourself to acquire the best information and application of that data.

One facet of sales that always intrigues our delegates on our courses revolves around the processes of differentiation in selling products and services. They know that one size doesn’t fit all cases, and their ability to personalise the approach is paramount when they are working with prospects and customers alike. The differentiation we will discuss here will help you ascertain which approach would be best for you to master.

Fortunately, we can narrow this process down to three components, and if you choose the right one, you can improve your chances of achieving a successful outcome.

The approach you choose can be determined by how badly your prospect is in need of your solution. We will call these approaches level 1, 2 and 3.

Level 1. This is where your prospect actually has expressed a desire for the solution you have to offer. You might call this the easiest sale you could make, as they have already said they need a solution like you are offering. Here, you INFLUENCE the decision-making process. By influencing, you assist the prospect to come up with the right decision for them or their business. Think of it as guiding them on the right path.

The statement might sound something like,


“By making this choice, you’ll start to see savings pretty soon, as your production will increase and your costs will go down. It really makes sense to do this as soon as possible, and I recommend we install within the next week so you can take advantage of those potential savings”


The Level 1 approach is the softest of the three, where the client is amicable and you have built desire for the results they would obtain with the solution.

Level 2. This is where the prospect has yet to make up their mind, is unsure on which way to go or has expressed doubt as to which solution would be best. Here, you can use your PERSUASION skills to help them come to a conclusion. You persuade them by helping them choose from a series of options that would help them achieve their goals. Options enhance the brains ability to choose. Not too many, of course. The optimum number is three.

It could sound something like this;


“OK, Mr Prospect, we have seen that you need to increase productivity and decrease costs. I have some alternatives for you. Firstly, the XY123 will help you reduce costs in the short-term. It’s the best choice for quick results. Another choice may be the same model with the additional capacity. The results will be longer term and you’ll get increased savings with the bulk-buying of materials. Finally, there’s the larger model, DC342, which offers all the benefits of the other model but with greater load capacity, so you spend less time reloading and re-ordering supplies.

My recommendation would be to take the larger model on our easy-pay contract, enabling you to build those savings quickly and efficiently. Do you see it the same way?”


This persuasive technique shows the prospect what the benefits are while pointing them in the right direction for their business. You persuade by highlighting the results and helping them come to the right conclusion.

Level 3. This would be where the situation has become sluggish or the process is stuck in a rut. It’s risky and can be seen as manipulative, so has to be used sparingly and with tact. It’s called FORCING THE ISSUE, and requires you to outline the pains of not making the decision and the gains of actually doing so.

It could sound something like,


“OK, Mr Prospect, we’ve looked at the alternatives and discussed what would work. I recommend we go with the DC342 because it will achieve everything you said you wanted. It will show immediate savings and, with the improved discounts I can give you on the materials, will improve your productivity as well as long-term savings. The sooner you install, the quicker those savings will show up on your bottom line. I can assure you it’s the best choice for your business. in the short-run and for long-term results.”


See…it’s risky because you’re forcing them to make a decision. But you’re also showing them the benefits of that decision. This takes a high degree of confidence and belief in your ability to give advice and you also need to have the trust of the prospect. When it works, though, they will thank you, because you are getting them out of the rut of indecisiveness.

So, those are the three levels of sales that you can work at. Try them when you next have to present solutions to prospects and see how you get on.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by Staurt Miles at

Have you downloaded my latest report “The Sales Person’s Crisis”? Over 10,000 sales pros have. Click on the image below to find out why your very existence as a sales person is in doubt…

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The Top 10 Sales Movies That You MUST Watch

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We’re big film fans in the office and any new sales person (or member of staff come to that) that starts with MTD, I always grill them as to the movies they’ve seen about sales!

“Have you watched Glengarry Glen Ross? Have you watched Boiler Room?” The list goes on!

So I thought I’d compile my top 10 favourite sales movies of all time.

I’ve also excluded both of the Wall Street films. Yes, they are my favourites but every list seems to have them in so I’m assuming they’re a given!  There’s also 2 movies where you don’t have to watch the whole movie but I have embedded the clip below that you MUST watch from it.

There’s also some in this list which are a little left field too.

I warn you there’s lots of the “F” word in the videos.

How many of these movies have you seen?

1.    Boiler Room

You want the hard sell?

You got it with this film.

This is about an ambitious young stock broker who bulldozers his clients into buying stock from him and his firm.

Check out the clip below of where the firms recruiter (Ben Affleck) holds a group interview. Just love this scene!

2.    Glengarry Glen Ross

This includes an all-star cast including Pacino, Spacey, Baldwin, Lemon and so on!

It’s about a group of middle aged sales people and the trials and tribulations that they go through on a weekly basis.

Check out this sales meeting below.

I hope your Sales Manager is not like Alec Baldwin!

3.    Two For The Money

This is a film that is often passed over but I love it.

Matthew McConaughey sells sports betting tips over the phone for a company owned by Al Pacino.

Pacino head hunts McConaughey and makes him the main man at the firm.

Soon the pressure is on as his tips need to come good.

Here’s a scene below where McConaughey asks for more commission from Pacino – I think the response will surprise you!

4.    The Wolf Of Wall Street

A new favourite of mine!

Complete hard sell, ball breaking sales!

Probably goes against everything I stand for as a sales person but I love it! I just love the energy of the film and what they had in the firm.

Here’s a scene where Jordan Belfort (The Wolf) asks his team to “Sell me this pen!”


5.    The Goods – Live Hard, Sell Hard

This movie is about sales people in a car dealership doing what it takes to make quota.

It’s a really funny film with a lot of home truths and not so home truths about the stereotypical sales industry.

In this scene below, the sales manager is shredding the photos of a sales person’s family saying they are too fat to be on show in front of a potential customer and that he needs to find photos of skinny kids so they feel sorry for him and give him the sale!

6.    Any Given Sunday

Ok, so this film has nothing to do with sales – it’s about an American Football Team.

But it makes my top 10 because of the motivational speech that Al Pacino gives to his losing team at half time.

Should you watch the whole movie? Damn right. It’s great and fast paced.

Here’s Pacino’s motivational speech. It’s awesome.

7.    The Pursuit Of Happyness

A heart-warming film of a salesman (Will Smith) who just doesn’t give up despite so many setbacks and knock backs

Check out this scene below where he finally gets a chance at a firm and how he approaches his cold calling and his mindset behind how he can make more calls than anyone else.

Really great piece.

8.    Rocky Balboa

The biggest lesson I took from this movie was the line “Life aint about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done”


I just loved this.

Ok, so I’m a huge Rocky fan anyhow. I’ve got posters and signed autographs in my office at home but you just got to watch this scene below where Rocky tells his son he’s worth more.

9.    Moneyball

Once again this has nothing to do with sales but everything to do with winning.

Billy Beane (played fantastically well by Brad Pitt) is the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. A bottom of the league baseball team with no hopes.

With the help of a Harvard Graduate he looks into the science of winning Baseball games after he loses all of his best players.

This is actually a true story and changed the way clubs were run in the future.

You can take a lot from this film about making the way that you sell more scientific in terms of the percentages and your sales process. I know I took a lot out of this movie which helped me and got me to look at things in a different way.

In this scene below Beane is running a meeting with his team of scouts where he spells out that they need to think differently to succeed.

10. Jerry McGuire

“Show me the money” enough said!

Our prospects and clients get us jumping through hoops sometimes to get their business and Cuba Gooding JR is no different with this famous scene

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by stockimages)

Have you downloaded my latest report “The Sales Person’s Crisis”? Over 10,000 sales pros have. Click on the image below to find out why your very existence as a sales person is in doubt…


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Complaints Can Lead To Sales – If You Handle Them Right

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No matter how well you’ve done your job, there will always be things that are outside of your control. Things that would drive your customer mad. Things that would make them annoyed. And things that simply add up to bad service.

Complaining customers can be a nightmare, but if handled correctly, can actually give you quality feedback.

Disgruntled customers tell you what they think and feel. And this kind of feedback helps you to see what everyone REALLY thinks about you and your company.

Think about it; how many ‘satisfied’ customers do you hear from? I mean, how many customers proactively call you up or write to you and say ‘I’m satisfied with the quality of goods and services you have offered me”?

I wager not many! But you normally will get some kind of feedback if the customer has cause for complaint. Here are some tips on dealing with those situations you might wish would disappear into thin air.

Firstly, take responsibility. Passing the buck will not only cheese them off even more, but adds to the perception that you don’t care about them or their situation.

A complaint is simply that…a situation that needs attention. The customer doesn’t care who does something. They just want it handled, and handled NOW!

Then, follow this checklist:

* Really listen to what they have to say. When someone is emotionally charged, they tend to not think rationally, so how they say things (as well as what comes out of their mouths) may not be immediately coherent or make sense. Don’t interrupt. Let them let off steam.

* Ask questions to completely clarify what is being said. This enables you to be specific in your summary of what the situation is. If something isn’t clear because of their vagueness or deletion of facts, ask questions to ensure you are totally clear exactly what happened.

* Summarise and confirm. Here, you rephrase your understanding of exactly what they have said and confirm that you have understood it to their satisfaction.

* Respond immediately. You may not be able to solve it straight away; instead, outline what will now happen. Something like “Right, this is what we will do, Mr Customer. I’ll make a call to our dispatch department now and see what has happened to the order. When we know more details, we can then make arrangements to sort this order. After that, we will see how we can stop this happening again”

This gives the customer confidence that you as a company are on top of this and they will see reasons to stay loyal.

* Solve it and follow up. Make sure the right people who can actually solve the situation are involved and make it happen. Then build the relationship by following up and ensuring the customer is happy with the result.

* Learn from the experience. Ask yourself, “How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?” Do you need to change the process? Do you have to get on op of your organisation to ensure it doesn’t occur again? What can you personally do to build awareness of this within your department or team?

When you satisfy a disappointed or angry customer, your follow-up procedure can prove to them that they made the right decision to complain and they can see the power of your company in making things right.

You therefore give them many reasons to continue to be loyal to you, especially if you have built up a good relationship with them over a period of time. Remember that the customer’s perception is reality to them. This means that if they think your service is bad, then it’s bad, full stop. No amount of discussion will change that opinion. The best thing to do is acquit yourself best as you can, and give them reasons to use you again.

So, instead of thinking of complaints as real problems and challenges, see them as opportunities to get quality feedback from customers. Many customers will then see how you deal with challenges and observe your company in a different light to others.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

Have you downloaded my latest report “The Sales Person’s Crisis”? Over 10,000 sales pros have. Click on the image below to find out why your very existence as a sales person is in doubt…

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How To Discover Needs At The Start Of A Prospect Meeting

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In a previous blog post called “Why You Should Only Present Solutions To Needs & Not To Problems” I stressed the importance of presenting your solutions to the prospects needs and not just their problems.

After all, a prospect can be faced with a BIG problem but have no real need or desire to fix it.

So how can you unearth these needs in the discovery phase?

This is what this post is all about.

Let’s assume that you’re meeting with a prospect for the first time to discuss their situation.

Generally, you begin the discovery process with some assumption as to how and why the prospect may have a need for your product.

You’re there for a reason whether you have instigated it yourself through prospecting or if they have requested a meeting with your company to see if you can help.

In front of the prospect, the process moves to a discussion of their current situation, i.e., what is the prospect doing now, how is it being done, who is supplying the product, where is it being used etc.

It’s important to begin with a discussion of the prospect’s situation for several reasons:




You are gathering general information that verifies or denies your assumptions.




You don’t know whether the prospect perceives even a need or a problem in his or her current situation.




If you focus on problems or needs without first understanding how the prospect operates, you risk not having all the information you need to focus on the real needs.




The prospect may be satisfied with the current situation, not perceiving a problem or a need.

As you learn more about the prospect’s current situation, you pick up clues as to possible problems or areas where your product might “fit.”

You explore these in depth, trying to understand and get the prospect to understand that they can be solved.

Once you have identified a problem, you confirm that the prospect would like to see it solved, thereby converting it to a need.

Key Points

  • Discovering moves from the general (assumption) to the specific (need).
  • In order to understand the problem you must first spend time understanding the prospect’s situation.
  • In order to define needs and arrive at a joint definition, you must first spend time defining problems.
  • Often, the prospect may not perceive a problem or need that you see – therefore, you must spend time helping the prospect define the problem.

As a  salesperson you are also a diagnostician.

Your first questions should focus on the general situation.

As you find an area of the problem, seek more specific information. As you go, provide information to the prospect, give him or her a frame of reference so that he or she understands how to respond and knows what kind of information you’re seeking and why. Provide feedback as you go. Let the prospect know that you both understand and appreciate the information you are receiving. Encourage the prospect to continue by showing you understand, and by frequently supporting your prospect’s remarks.


Discovering is not an interrogation!


Do not conduct an interrogation in which you ask a lot of closed ”yes” or “no” questions. Use closed questioning mainly to confirm your understanding of what you’ve been told.

Open Questions


Allow the prospect freedom to express feelings, needs etc


Open questions allow the prospect to express feelings, problems, needs, opinions and facts; they are the most useful type of question as they allow a dialogue to proceed, giving the prospect the freedom to express needs from his or her perspective.

  • Cannot be answered by ”yes” or “no.”
  • Seek an open-ended response from prospect.
  • Seek information about facts, situations, problems, concerns, feelings.
  • Seek clarification of statements by prospects.


  1. “What are your objectives in looking at suppliers?”
  2. ‘What kinds of problems have you had?”
  3. When do these problems happen?”
  4. “I’m not sure I understand: Why do they break down?”
  5. “How do you feel about that?”
  6. ‘Why is that?”
  7. “Oh?”

Closed Questions


Useful in confirming and regaining focus; limit response


Closed questions are useful in confirming your understanding of what the prospect has said and in regaining lost focus.

  • Answered by ”yes” or “no.”
  • Seek confirmation of facts, feelings, situations, problems.
  • Can be misused and manipulative, and can cause resistance.

Examples (mainly  used as confirmation):

  1. “Then, if I understand, the problem is mainly in your production?”
  2. ”Then your goal would be to eliminate the problem?”
  3. “So, if I read the situation, you feel it’s mainly a production issue?”

Improper Use of Closed Questions

Remember, you are attempting to view concerns from the prospect’s perspective. Closed questioning if used without a prospect-oriented focus, can be viewed as manipulative, and can create resistance.

  1. ‘Wouldn’t you agree that … ?”
  2. “If I could show you a way to save money, wouldn’t you be interested?”
  3. “Haven’t you had problems with your . .. ?”

Closed questions are directive and assumptive, almost forcing a re­ sponse favourable to the salesperson’s pitch. Rather than put the prospect in a box, when a “no” response is possible, be open with your questioning and avoid closed questions when possible.

Share/Provide Information


To maintain dialogue, position questions and provide examples


A steady stream of questions, without feedback, turns into an interrogation. Discovering is  a  conversational  process  in  which you  share information and provide a rationale for your question. Use it to keep the prospect involved.

  • Position questions when you move from one topic to another.
  • Use examples and analogies to help the prospect under­stand where you’re going.


  1. “You raise a good point. We find that in a lot of companies these problems come up because people don’t understand the effects of different welding gases.  It might be useful to spend a few minutes looking at that issue so we’ll have the total picture.  What has your experience been?”
  2. “Working with all these cylinders instead of a bulk tank is like trying to cut down a redwood with a pen knife instead of a chain saw. It’s a lot easier when you have the right tools.”



Builds a bridge of empathy with the prospect


We tend to seek out and respond well to people who understand our views and agree with our opinions. Be supportive of your prospect at all stages of the sales process to build empathy and advance the relationship.

Look for areas of agreement and actively acknowledge the prospect’s feelings.

  • Agree with and acknowledge any comment that is useful.
  • Acknowledge the prospect’s right to feelings, even if they are negative.
  • Agree with the prospect every time you can honestly do so.
  • Use the prospect’s own words. This not only shows you’re listening, but also show that you see value in the prospect as a person.


  1. Support could be a simple statement: “You’re right:’; “I agree,” etc.
  2. Or a more extended comment summarizing a prospect’s opinion:
    • “Absolutely.  We find that to be the case in almost every situation.”
    • “You’re right. We provide the highest quality service and product.”
    • “As you said, people can do a lot if they have the right tools. That’s why this bulk delivery tank .. .”
  3. Support could be offered based on the prospect’s attempt to correct a problem, as a compliment:
    • “You know, you’re way ahead of most companies in recognizing how these things can be done.”
    • “I can see you’ve taken the initiative, and that it’s really paying off.”
  4. Support could be used to introduce a product benefit:
    • ”You’re right. The quality isn’t what it should be for your application. That’s why out T200 was developed – to eliminate the problem from malfunctions in the code”

Using the tips and techniques above you should be able to start discovering the prospect’s needs very early on in the meeting – meaning that you will have more time during the meeting to present the right solution.

I hope you got a lot out of this article and I’d love to hear your own experiences of this?

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by David Castillo Dominici at

Have you downloaded my latest report “The Sales Person’s Crisis”? Over 10,000 sales pros have. Click on the image below to find out why your very existence as a sales person is in doubt…

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