The One Question Every Buyer Wants Answered

Over the years. most trainings and development programmes for salespeople have emphasised the importance of effective processes and techniques to be able to ‘sell’ their products and services. Most salespeople want to know how to ‘open the call’ or ‘overcome objections’. The skill development has revolved around how the knowledge and experience can be built so that they can capture interest, build desire and commit to action.

As time has passed, much of the development required by sales people has switched in its emphasis. The economic climate and the need to cut costs and overheads has changed the way that products need to be presented to achieve solutions.

Where previously we discussed how to present products, we now create images of the future when the product is in use. Where previously we discussed how to overcome objections, we now discover opportunities for the prospect to uncover where obstacles might occur before they come up.

So, how should we now approach our role as salespeople? Should we concentrate on technique, skills and knowledge? Or should we adopt a differing mindset that helps us build benefits and opportunities for the prospect?

One way we can think it through is by determining what is most important to the customer we are dealing with. Emphasis in the past has been on how we present the benefits and advantages of our products and why they are better than the competition’s. Now, we should help the prospect to see how they can improve or get better with our solution. Therefore, we should consider the customer’s mindset, and determine what is going through their minds before they make a decision.

The one question every buyer wants answered is “What solution will help me most to achieve my needs or desires?”

This question is going through the mind of the customer at every stage of the conversation and even before. When they are contemplating changes, whether it be new clothes or a new office location, they are always trying to answer the question of solving the problem. Knowing the problem that the prospect wants solving is the key to helping them make a decision.

Therefore, our emphasis when we are considering which direction to go with the sale should be on answering, “What problem is the prospect needing to solve? What benefits should be highlighted to the prospect that will help them choose our product? How will our choice improve their business opportunities?”

When we answer those questions, we laser in on what is most important to the prospect. You consider options that will be best for their business. You create conversations that focus on what is best for them, rather than us.

Approach every situation with that question in mind…what solution can I provide that will help this prospect achieve their needs and desires?

By thinking that way, your discussions will always assist the prospect to see the future involving your solutions.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by David Castillo Dominici at

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Three Buying Motives Of The Modern-Day Buyer

Selling today is all about recognising the true motivations of buyers and aligning your presentation/solution to match their needs and desires. We all know that.

So, with an up-to-date buyer, who has little in the way of time and resources to spend, what do we need to do to assist them to make a decision to choose us and our offering?

Well, our research has shown that there are probably a small number of over-riding drivers to decision-making that affect the majority of purchasers. We recognise that these will be used in different levels and amounts by each person, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach that can be taken.

But if we realise that most buyers tend to be influenced by these specific drivers, we can align what we say and do to match these ways of thinking.

In the modern-day buyer’s mind, what are the major factors that influence their decisions? And how can we mirror them so the buyer feels we are the best choice for them?

Firstly, and naturally, it’s Money.

But in a slightly different way to how you might have anticipated it.

Most salespeople think that when a buyer asks for a discount or a lower price, it’s because they don’t see the value in your product or service. However, it goes down to a deeper level than that. We have to remember that most of our B2B buyers want a lower price because:

1) They want to get more repeat business from their customers

2) They want to offer something better than their competition

So their rationale in asking for a lower price may revolve around their ability to offer their customers a better deal. And the reason for that could be they are looking for greater profits themselves.

The way to discuss this with the prospect is to confirm the real reason why they want a lower price from you. Sometimes it may be they simply want to get a good deal. But it probably really means they want to have lower costs so they can pass the savings onto their customers and beat their competition while making more profit themselves.

So the underlying reason is for them to make more money.

This enables you to highlight the benefits and advantages of your products and services that will enable your prospect to prosper. Discuss how you can help him to improve his profitability. Point out the benefits over the competition’s offerings that will make his company look good. Determine how your back-up and warranties will build long-term loyalty and allow your prospect to gain more from existing and new customers.

Always determine the real reason behind the request for price reduction. Most times it will be to enable the prospect to make more profits, and that ultimate goal could be achieved in different ways than simply by reducing your prices.

Secondly, a buying influencer may be Reduced Risk.

What I mean by this is that they may want to have greater confidence they won’t miss their deadlines with their customers. It could be they want greater confidence that the products they offer will actually do what they promise they will do. And they want to give their customers more reasons to use them, so their reputation increases and they become more attractive to new clients.

So, one of the areas you can highlight could be how your products and services reduce the risks they have to take in their market-place. This will give them more confidence and peace of mind when they sell. Don’t underestimate the power of risk reduction.

Another key component in decision-making may be Time.

If you are able to offer confidence to your prospect that you will be able to deliver on time, there will be less time spent by them on worrying about customer complaints and issues of inventories.

It will also give them confidence that the value of dealing with you is greater because they can trust your promises and can get on with what they do best, without worrying about what’s happening in the background.

Remember, then, to concentrate on these three key buying motives (Money, Risk Reduction and Time) so that you match the needs and desires of your prospects and don’t get dragged in to surface-level debates about costs and other incidentals that hide the real reasons why they may be buying from you.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

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Are You Ready To Sell To The Modern Day Buyer? – Infographic

The way that sales professionals sell has gone through massive changes over the last few decades and the sales process has gone from a one way “push the benefits” monologue on the behalf of the sales pro, to an in-depth internet-based research analysis on the part of the buyer – before they are even willing to interact with a sales person.

Today’s buyers are a lot more sales savvy; they conduct research online about your products and services, your company, your competitors and they can even find out information about you on a personal level as well. But if you as the sales professional are still trying to sell to them with the same old tired methods and techniques then you are likely to find that you get turfed out of the running before you’ve even had chance to speak to your prospects!

The infographic below gives you a quick overview of the way the sales process has developed over the last 30 years and helps you to understand who the modern day buyer is and what they now want when they are looking to make a purchase.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by MTD Sales Training – please give attribution to MTD Sales Training if republished)

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How The Social Media Movement Has Changed The Face Of Selling

I have spoken many times on this blog about how the sales process has changed, and that the modern day buyer now makes their purchasing decisions in a completely different way to their predecessors. Modern day buyers are much more sales savvy than before, and are able to find out everything they need to know to help them make a purchasing decision before they’ve even contacted a potential supplier or spoken to a sales person.

The sales landscape is changing, and sales professionals need to move with the times in order to stay on top. Talking you through all of the ways in which the sales process and the modern day buyer has changed, and explaining how you need to change the way you approach a sale with the modern day buyer in order to close more sales, could be very time consuming – so instead I thought I would give you a quick visual tour through the complexities of the modern day buyer’s behaviour and show you the effect the Internet and social media has had on the traditional sales process.

Our infographic below will give you a whistle stop tour of how the Internet has changed the way that people buy, and show you exactly why we as sales professionals need to change the way that we sell.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by MTD Sales Training, Copyright 2012)

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Sean McPheat Is Bringing Modern Day Selling To The ISMM This October

In no less than 6 weeks MTD Sales Training’s MD Sean McPheat will be returning to the stage at the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s (ISMM) Successful Selling Conference at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on October 12th.

Following on from the success of last year’s conference where Sean keynoted to over 1,000 sales professionals on his alternative sales method known as eselling©. During his keynote, Sean showed the audience at the ISMM why they should be using social media and other internet-based services to enable better prospecting, personal branding, networking and engaging with key decision makers online.

This year Sean will be delivering his Practical Sales Clinic breakout session, in which he will be digging even deeper into the concepts behind modern day selling and showing attendees at the event exactly how they can use the power of social media in their selling to gain a real return on their investment.

Sean’s return to the Successful Selling Conference has been causing quite a stir in the local media, with the Coventry Telegraph publishing a great piece on the background behind Sean’s modern day sales approach – detailing Sean’s achievements as an entrepreneur and the owner of many successful internet-based businesses.

Sean has proven that his modern day approach to selling really does work, and he is keen to show other sales professionals and business owners in all sectors and industries exactly how they can use the Internet to improve their sales performance and generate more qualified leads for their business.

For more information on the ISMM Successful Selling Conference, including a full agenda of the day, please visit

See you again soon folks,

Louise Denny

Marketing Manager

MTD Sales Training

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3 Top Qualities Of The Modern-Day Sales Professional

I talk constantly about the modern-day buyer and how they have evolved from those of the past. However, the modern-day seller must evolve as well.

Short and sweet, here are the three top qualities of the modern-day sales professional.

#1: Today’s Sales Professional is an Expert
Today’s modern consumer is educated and has access to more information about you and what you sell, than ever before in history. It’s not uncommon for the prospect to know as much or even more than the sales person does about their product or service. Having rudimentary information, experience and skill about what you do is no longer acceptable. Today you must be a bona-fide expert in your field, which requires hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of study and due diligence.

Today’s sales professional must be an advisor, a counsellor and a specialist. You must know everything there is to possibly know about your product, service and entire industry, as well as the past, present and future conditions of each.

#2: Today’s Sales Professional is Technologically Advanced
If you are not yet making the most use of current technology, you are a dinosaur awaiting extinction. Things like CRM maximisation, sales process management, time management, multi-media, e-marketing, e-prospecting, and social networking avenues and techniques are no longer a luxury—they are the foundation of your business.

If you are still using sticky-notes to follow up on prospects, unformatted texted-only email, a hand-written time and appointment scheduling system, and you have no idea of how to integrate your message into sites like LinkedIn; then you are operating in the past.

Today’s modern-day sales professional is a technical student and pioneer.

#3: Today’s Sales Professional is a True Believer
As always, you have to believe wholeheartedly in what you do and sell. However today, that requirement is more important than ever before. Today’s consumer is so up to date on your industry and willing to play you off of your competition, that you need an unwavering conviction in your product, service and company more now than at any time in the past.

Today’s buyer will test you like never before. Current clients threaten to leave; prospects demand more for less, and the economy bites at your profits. If you do not know in your heart that your product, service and pricing is the best value and benefit for the customer, you have a problem.

As an expert, who is technically advanced and truly believes…you are on your way.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

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4 Reasons Why Prospects Fear Cold Calls

We have heard for years about how much today’s consumer detests receiving the dreaded cold-call. We all know that cold calling has become increasingly difficult and the modern-day buyer has become more evasive, defensive, suspicious and even hostile towards getting a telephone solicitation call.

As a result, there are tons of training and tips on how to handle such obstacles as well as many alterative prospecting avenues. However, my take is that to develop any solution, you must first truly understand the problem.

So, join me as I diverge today, and instead of giving you tips on how to overcome objections, get past gatekeepers or project a positive image; allow me to share some insight into WHY consumers have come to feel the way they do about receiving a cold call.

If you can genuinely understand and honestly empathise with the person on the other end of that telephone call, then you can begin to learn how to handle the situation from the inside– out!

#1. Privacy Violation
Of course, you have heard buyers complain that a cold call is an invasion of privacy. However, think of this analogy:

You are sitting at home with your family, relaxing or eating dinner or you’re in the middle of writing an important document at work. Suddenly a stranger bursts in the door and begins to walk right up to you. What would you do? Better yet, what would you actually say?

Responses to this person
Your first response might be questions like:

“Who are you?!”
“What do you want?!”
“Why are you here?!”
“How did you get in here?!”

You are doing nothing more than protecting yourself/family from a possible harmful source. It is a natural defensive reaction.

Now, if the answers to those first questions were inadequate, your next responses would turn more aggressive:

“We don’t have any valuables/money!”
“Get out of here!”

Responses to the Telephone Intruder
You have to realize that when you make a cold call, essentially you just “materialised” in that person’s dining room or working environment. When the prospect picks up the telephone, you are instantly in their living room, their office or perhaps their bedroom! Just like the above example, you just burst in the door, unannounced, and charged up to the person. Can you see why they react as they do?

Responses to a cold call:

“Who are you?!” “Is this a sales call?”
“What do you want?!” “What are you selling!?”
“Why are you here?!” “What are you selling!?”
“How did you get in here?!” “How’d you get my number/information/pass gatekeeper?”

These are not objections! They are normal and natural defences erected for protection from an unknown potential threat. If inadequate answers ensue, then real fear sets in:

Responses to a cold call:

“We don’t have any valuables/money!” “I’m not interested!”
“Get out!” “Click!” They hang up.

Can you understand why some tell you, “I’m not interested!” before they have any idea of what you sell?

#2. Personal Space
In addition to the intrusion, a cold call violates personal space. Think about it; when someone is talking on the telephone, where is the phone? It is right up against their face. You are a total stranger and suddenly you are right there, virtually nose-to-nose with the prospect. You are literally in their face!

#3. Lack of Knowledge
When you call someone, you immediately prove that you have more knowledge of him or her than he or she does of you. First, you called them, which means you have their telephone number and in many cases, it is a private number. You also knew the exact whereabouts of the person: you caught him at the office or her at home.

You know his name. You know her address. You know his job title. In fact, with very limited prospecting information, you could know what they do, where they work, how much money they earn and what kind of dishwashing detergent they use. However, at the time of the call, the prospect knows almost nothing about you.

People can feel this imbalance of power and it makes them uncomfortable.

#4. Lack of Control
Finally, with all of the above, the prospect was powerless in preventing any of it. They hired a sharp gatekeeper, set up voice mails, eluded calls, and still you caught them. The prospect simply had no control over your entrance.

This lack of control is what sends real fear into the hearts of today’s buyer and is why you have heard buyer’s use the term, “violated.” It is this severe, often hopeless feeling of a lack of control that is at the heart of the problems with cold calling.

However, if you think about it, there is one very simply thing the intruder could have done to avoid all of the first natural defences and the following unnatural defences.

All the intruder had to do was knock on the door.

Safely behind the door, the homeowner/decision maker could look and decide to let the person in or not. The resident could ask questions of the would be intruder—before they gained entry. Most importantly, the buyer would have the choice, the option of opening the door.

The buyer would feel as if they were in CONTROL of the situation.

That is the problem with a cold call. There is no way to give the prospect the immediate feeling of control. There is no way to knock on the telephone.

Or is there?

Posting Jan 6, 2012:
How to Knock On the Telephone

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

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And The Moral of the Story Is…

In tribute to the many sales managers, trainers, directors and coaches who are always in need of more creative, effective and memorable ways to relay sales training concepts, I am starting a new series called, “And the Moral of the Story is…”

Start your weekend by looking here every Friday morning at 10:00 am for some entertaining sales stories.  Like “King Kong’s Got Nothing On Me,” from Memories of a Sales Manager, some stories are funny, some are serious, but all have a strong sales message!

If you miss one, not to worry.  You can find them all in the new MTD Blog category, “Sales Stories.”  First up…The Sunday Ham

The Sunday Ham
One Sunday morning, a young mother began preparing the usual big Sunday family dinner as her young daughter looked on.  After unwrapping the huge ham shank, which was star of the show, she promptly placed it on the cutting counter, grabbed a giant meat cleaver and with one powerful, almost vicious swing, hacked off the tip, the triangle edge of the ham.

Startled, the daughter asked, “Mom, why did you do that?!”

The mother confidently replied, “Oh, it’s ok, Honey.  You have to do that because it makes the ham come out better.  It cooks better and tasted yummy!”

“Really?”  The young inquisitive child, asked, “How?  Why does it make the ham taste better?”

After a moment of deep thought, the mother replied, “You know, Sweetie, I’m not really sure.  I learned how to cook the ham from your grandmother, let me call her and ask.”  Moments later with nana on the phone, the mother asked, “Mom, you know when you make the ham and you always chop off that shank tip, why do you do that?”

The grandmother quickly and confidently responded, “Oh, well, it comes out better that way, child, you know that.”

“Yes, I know Mom, but why, how?”

Also puzzled, the grandmother said, “I don’t really know.  I learned how to cook that delicious ham from your grand, let’s ask her.”

Now on the telephone in a three-way mini family conference, the great grandmother, and three generations of family asked the question, “Mom, you know when you used to cook the ham and you would always cut off that corner shank tip?  Why did you do that?”

The great wise grand, now in her nineties, paused and matter-of-factly replied,

“Well, I had to do that…because the ham was always just too darn big to fit in that little pot I had back then.”

And the Moral Of the Story Is…
Just because you have been doing something one way for a long time does not make it right.  Remember that much of what you know about professional selling has been “passed down” from one generation to the next.  Your sales manager learned from his sales manager, who learned from her supervisor and so on.

The problem is not that those tried and true sales techniques of the past no longer work.  The problem is that those prospective buyers of the past no longer exist.  Today’s modern consumer is far more educated, sophisticated and sales savvy than ever before.  They also have a worldwide database of information at their fingertips with the Internet.

Check out my video, “Why the Modern Day Buyer Has Changed,” and if you have not yet done so, download my latest report, “The Sales Person’s Crisis,” below.

The fact is today’s prospective customer has changed from those of the past and your entire selling paradigm must change to keep pace.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

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When The Buyer Does Not Perceive Your Value

Many times, your buyer will take a look at your up-front price and reject it. This is because they don’t see how the goods or services you offer will solve their problems at the price stated. In other words, value has not been built up in the customer’s mind.

Value isn’t waht you think it is. Value is alwyas what the buyer thinks it is. If you think it’s goos and the buyer thinks it’s not, it’s not!

So here you need to really educate your buyer. You need to highlight the focal point of the conversation. Either you will focus on the price of your services or products, or on the value of your solution, that is, what is it worth to the buyer. Here are some tips on how to help the buyer perceive that value:

1) Remind him of the value of past services: If you’ve been partners with the company for some time, bring up the value that you have built up over that time with him. Remind him of what they’ve received from you in the past.Is the peace of maind and security you have provided worth something? If so, let him know how much that must be worth.

2) Check if price is the real issue: You could ask something like: “Mr Buyer, if you were to make a decision today on all the criteria except price, who would you go with and why?” The reasons the buyer comes up with will include a number of things other than price, and you can ensure that you build value on those other things. You can then convince the buyer that all those valuable things outweigh a small price differential between you and the competition.

3) Shift the focus off price: You don’t make apologies for high quality and great service. Explain how your services adds value to the offering you are making and explain how your back-up or other unique offerings benefit the buyer’s business.

4) Use testimonials to convince the buyer that price isn’t the be-all-and-end-all: It’s ok you saying that your quality and service makes up for the higher price, but you would say that, wouldn’t you? Use what other customers have said to reinforce your message that value is built in to the long-term service of your realtionship with them.

5) Build performance criteria into your contract: Here at MTD, we ran a Sales Development Programme with a company in the construction industry. We held back part of our fees until the end of the programme. If we delivered to the spec we had promised and the customer profited from that, we shared in those profits. If we didn’t deliver and their profitability wasn’t what we expected, we didn’t get those performance fees. Needless to say, we shared a good percentage of the extra profits the company made!

You can build some kind of performance contract into your relationship with the buyer. You could reduce the risk to your buyer by introducing a clause for failure to perform. This is known as a malus, and it occurs when the contractor must repay or forfeit some of their fees for failing to perform. If you are that confident you can deliver for the buyer, you might consider something like that in your contract to reduce the risks for them, and hence increase the value.

6) Confirm the basis for the value you are offering: If the buyer is still considering using your competitor, you can identify the best value offerings you have and reiterate them. Then you could say: “Mr Buyer, let’s go over our proposition together and I’ll highlight the benefits you will get by going with us. Then, let’s compare what the competitor is offering and we can see which of us would benefit your long-term business the most”.

It’s true that some buyers will fail to see the value of your products and services.Their objections appear as either value-based objections or equity problems. In the first case, the buyer falils to see the value of what you are offering. In the second case, they cannot see the difference between you and the competition. You need to reiterate your value and uniqueness.

Ask yourself, what are your definable and value-building differentials? Where is the value in your proposaition?” The ansers to these questions will build confidence in your customer and encourage them to identify, with you, the full value of your offerings.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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(Video) Why The Modern Day Buyer Has Changed By Sean McPheat

Here’s a short video that I put together about why the modern day buyer has changed.

You know what? They’ll take the shirt off your back if you’ll let them!

Press play below…

Let me know what you think by making a comment below

Heppy selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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