Olsen on Sales: Leading the Call

THE TITLE of my second book is Leadership Sales. I named it that because the Master Sellers I know lead their customers. Do they give great service? Yes, but they are not servants. They have an equal partnership relationship with their customers.

Many sellers are in a master/servant relationship with their customers. Their main goal is to not irritate the customer, so they are too cautious in their sales approach. We cannot service our way to the top of a sales business.

The Purpose of My Call

Master Sellers know exactly how they want their calls to go. They have several items to promote and know why what they are promoting is a good deal. As simple as it seems, many sellers go into calls with only a vague idea of how they want the call to go and of what kind of value they bring to the call.

What Do You Need Today?

Many sellers use this or a veiled option of this approach. This is lazy “selling.” What it says is, “I am too lazy to do my job, so can you tell me what you want to pay and what you want to pay for it?” This brings no value to the customer and deserved poor treatment to the “salesperson.”

Controlling the Call

Master Sellers control their calls. This may sound adversarial to some.  It is not. Master Sellers know they bring value and don’t want to waste their customers’ time or their own. Master Sellers are in the “Yes/No” vs. “I’ll Let You Know” business. Many sellers are so afraid of the “no” they beat around the bush, which is frustrating to the customer. 

We need to tell our customers what we have, why it’s a good deal, and ask for the order. Seems simple but many sellers don’t do it, forcing the customer to control the call.

Controlling the Prospect Call

The person asking the questions is the one controlling the call. The purpose of the prospect call is to qualify the customer, but many sellers lose control early because they let the customer take over and (try to) qualify them. For example:

Customer: “OK, what’s your price on 2×4 16’s?”

Quotron: “We can get those into you at $650/MBF.”

Customer: “We are paying $625/MBF from our current supplier, so I don’t think we need you.” Click.

• • • • •

Customer: “OK, what’s your price on 2×4 16’s?”

Master Seller: “I’d love to sell you something today, but that really isn’t the purpose of this call. Let me find out a little bit more about you, your company, and the products you bring in and see if we are a good fit. After we cover all that, if you would like to give me an inquiry on something, I would love to work up a professional quote for you and we can start doing business. So, let me ask you this.  What are the main items you are bringing in on a regular basis?” 


So… is a great transition word to help us take control of many situations. We answer the customer’s question and then say, “So,” and ask our question. Again, the person asking the questions is the person controlling the call. Most customers are not going to buy from us on the first call, so we don’t want to waste time quoting something they aren’t going to buy. Distribution sellers can sometimes get orders on the first call because there is less risk on smaller volumes, but truckload sellers almost never get an order on the first call. 

Negative Talk

Customers will often start with negative talk about the market, their business, or the economy. Many sellers will let them go on and on or will even commiserate with them. After five minutes of negativity, they then try to sell them something. Too late.  They are digging out of a “negativity well” that is so deep it is almost impossible to get back on a positive theme.

Master Sellers listen to one negative sentence, commiserate a little, and then say, “Yes, there are some bad things happening, but I have found a ray of light in a stormy sea. I have found a great deal for you on…” and promote something of value to their customer—yes/no but not complain, complain, complain.


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