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When I ask sales reps to boil down the entire “selling process” into a one word answer, I get a wide variety of interesting responses such as service, education, or consulting. Seldom do I get the answer that I’m expecting to hear: relationship.

Regardless of your industry, at the end of the day you’re in the “people business.” As the old saying goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

The key to making a successful sale is not a transfer of information, but the establishment of a working relationship. Most sales reps shoot themselves in the foot by trying to close a sale too quickly without first taking the time to lay a firm foundation of trust and rapport. This oversight is the equivalent of a construction worker being in such a hurry to get the walls up and the roof on, that they forget about pouring the concrete foundation.

To build a quality relationship with your prospect, you must sell three things in a specific order. Step one sell yourself, step two sell the quality of your company, and step three sell the value of your products and services. If you have trouble making a favorable first impression and can’t effectively sell yourself, there’s really no need for you to move on to steps two and three because you haven’t established trust and rapport.

Here are some time-proven suggestions to help you successfully transition through these three critical steps and close the sale.

Keys to selling yourself

1. Create a favorable first impression by being on time and well prepared.

2. Look sharp and dress professionally.

3. Use open body language gestures, a firm handshake, and maintain direct eye contact.

4. Use “active listening” skills and keep the focus on your prospect by listening twice as much as you talk.

5. Ask open-ended questions to draw out your prospect and get him or her talking.

6. Build trust and rapport quickly by “matching and mirroring” your prospect’s body language gestures and energy level.

Keys to selling the quality of your company

1. Express your enthusiasm about why you like working for your company, as people like to do business with salespeople who show pride in their organization.

2. Don’t try and make your company look good by “badmouthing” your competitors.

3. Use a company brochure and or news article to highlight your company’s achievements.

Keys to selling the value of your products and services

1. Use testimonials to show your prospect how other people have benefited from your products or services.

2. Highlight the FEATURES of your product or service to show how they will directly BENEFIT your prospect by saving him or her time and or money.

3. Downplay the price issue by emphasizing value, quality, convenience, and reliability.

The best way to turn a prospect into a customer is to remember that you need to first sell yourself and your company before you even mention your products and services!

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions.

For more information, visit