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The Signposts of good Selling

Learning Lounge – Exercise

What are the signposts of good selling?

Even in today’s digital world there are a number of tips that salespeople need to remember. This includes those selling in a B2B and B2C market. Whenever there is a customer engagement these signposts will always be relevant. The signposts that follow gives us an insight into the world of selling in the right way.

the 7 signposts of good selling

Building rapport with customers – People Buy from People when rapport exists, we are liked & we have powerful opening lines…

In today’s world where the internet rules and people do their research before purchase instead of discussing the item with a salesperson, it could be argued that the statement above is no longer the case.

However, it is still true that when a customer discusses a product or service with a salesperson they are buying from the individual because:

  • They trust them
  • The Salesperson knows what they are talking about
  • They believe that the Salesperson has their best interests at heart

Where the customer truly believes this then as a seller you have met them in the areas that are most important to them

Achieving that state consistently is at the heart of Relationship Management


Just quickly write down the last four or five clients who, you feel, bought from you simply because you got on so well. What does that tell you?

We do not create needs, influence the customer to explore their needs.

Successful salespeople engage with their customers to explore their real needs, letting their questioning skills bring out essential information and when drilling down helping their customers to identify what they want. It is not within our sphere of influence to create the need, as it already exists. Therefore, all we can do is explore and help the customer work with you in confirming what the need is.

When we have found/discovered the needs (that were already there!) the real job begins. We influence the customer to move from recognising the need, to the point where he/she wants to do something about it. “We only willingly do things we WANT to do….”

Just think for a couple of minutes, ‘Do I consistently go to discover my customer’s needs, or do I frequently go with preconceived ideas of what I want to sell them?’

People do things for their reasons, not ours. See the world from the customer’s point of view.

A natural follow on from the previous statement. Whilst we might have a good idea about what the customer wants, they are not doing it to fill your order book/sales quota. They are doing it as they have a reason to do so.

Our role in this as with the previous statement is to help them to uncover the real reason and for us to help them to satisfy this with a solution, which meets their, needs. They buy for their reason only.

When you really understand the customer and their situation, you see things from their point of view. In turn, this allows you to give them reasons to buy that will appeal particularly to them.

Those reasons, where at all possible, need to be ‘bespoke’, not ‘off the peg’. They are to be found somewhere in the customer’s world, not yours.

People do not buy the product they buy what it will do for them “Never sell a product or service, sell the image behind a product or service”, Heinz Goldman

Another link here, if we have asked the right questions, summarised powerfully and asked the closing and commitment questions which link to the key information discovered we find that a customer will buy what a product will do for them rather than what it is.

Do your customers always buy what the product does, or will do, for them? Or do you sometimes slip into selling the features of the product first.

Look at it, and think about it, this way: what do you feel that you are buying when you purchase the latest TV, Audio system, your new car?

Take any one of the above and list what it “will do for you”. Then ask yourself the question:

“Is that what I do when I’m talking to a customer about one of my products?”

If we know and understand them and what motivates them we can explain and describe the product in such a way as to satisfy their motivators i.e. their reason to buy.

What it does for them!

The CRITICAL skill – is to identify what motivates the customer BEFORE you prospect call them and build this into your opening lines. Sell the ‘sizzle’ NOT the product! Do you really sell benefits? Always?!

‘People act to gain a reward or to avoid a penalty’ (often called the law of effect).

Simply put does the customer buy a product or service from you to avoid a situation or to make a gain from a situation?

Do you ask the question to highlight this in a way that really shows what the customer is gaining or avoiding?

We all take action, consciously or unconsciously, to gain, or avoid, things. The act of buying is governed by this rule. Yet, even the most experienced salespeople fail to highlight the gains/avoid of their products.

Quite often they simply explain the features of what they are proposing and leave it to their customers to work out the gains/avoids for themselves.


Consider a product you sell least often and list below what gains/avoids it might contain for a particular customer.

When you are explaining your products to customers do you frequently hear yourself using the phrases, ‘You will gain’, or ‘What you will avoid?’

‘The customer solves his/her own problem’.

You will have started to see a distinct link to all of these statements.
Again using the right questions in the right order will enable a customer to identify the real need and to solve their own problem.

Selling by telling does not work in the long-term. Selling by allowing the customers to highlight and solve their own problems, with your help, does work – you’ve probably done it before. Is it often enough?
Have you asked or said to a customer?

  • ‘What problem does that give you now?’
  • ‘How do you feel about the issues you’ve just come up with?’
  • ‘This is your concern Mr Smith, isn’t it?’
  • ‘What do you want to do about your current situation?’
  • ‘This is your problem, Mr Smith, what can or would you like to do about?’

Using the real-life situation instead of the word problem, issue, situation or concern, brings this to life for the customer.

Allowing customers to ‘discover their own problems’ through examining key information is what consultative selling is about.

Selling that may encourage customers to become associated with their problems and, thus, with the solutions.

‘A few words can make or break a sale’.

We have all been there, used the wrong words or too many words at the wrong time or the wrong tone in our voice, instead of just ‘closing the mouth’

Every salesperson born would accept and identify with this. It is what is implied by the statement that is important and worth acting upon.

The use of a few right words or a few wrong words can bring us a sale or can lose us a sale.

Do you really pay attention not only to the words you use but also to the way you emphasise them and are you aware of your voice tones?

Do you really take time to understand what will excite or turn off, each individual customer?


Cast your mind back to a recent call with a customer where those few words – did ‘break a sale’.

What could you have said differently?

What elements of prepared phraseology do you know work for you?

We hope that you found this learning bite “Signpost of good selling” useful, the author Mike Willoughby has worked in learning and development for 30 years and has overseen large scale sales training programmes such as CISCO’s CDSA “CISCO Distribution Sales Academy” and Genworths “Genworth Way Sales Programme”.

Collectively the team MPI Learning have been training salespeople for over 40 years, please get in touch if you require support in developing your sales team via the contact form at the bottom of the page.

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