Business Tools

21 Do's and Don'ts for Sales Professionals

By Jason Catullo

Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, discussed essential do's and don'ts for sales professionals during her SEMA webinar presentation, "21 Super Sales Tips." Whether full or part time, or if you are a sales vet or novice, understanding and using proven sales techniques, as well as deploying new tactics aimed at well-informed consumers, are keys to closing deals in today's specialty-equipment market.

Friedman, who is also a four-time SEMA Show speaker, provided 21 techniques during her presentation. Seven of the 21 total tips are named below along with Friedman's explanation for each sales tactic. Want to hear all of the tips outlined in the session? Listen to the complete presentation, "21 Super Sales Tips."

The sales tips provided during the session covered an array of common sales interactions and can be adapted for use in either over-the-phone or face-to-face sales.

  • Ask for Time to Talk: For telephone calls, the moment someone picks up the phone, one of the first questions that should be asked is, "do you have time to talk?" or "did I catch you at a bad time?" It's important not to be intrusive and to make the customer feel that you are there to help, not to interrupt.
  • Attitude vs. Mood: There is a key difference between attitude and mood, says Friedman. "A mood is temporary, and attitude is permanent. That's as simple as I can make it." When behind the counter in sales, a good attitude is important. "People who have great attitudes can be in bad moods, but they also get out of a bad mood quicker than those with consistent bad attitudes." 
  • Benefits vs. Features—What This Means to You: "Women buy emotionally, and men buy logically," says Friedman. "That's just the way it is." She provided listeners with an effective way to identify the difference between benefits and features by using the phrase, "what this means to you." For example, if a salesperson explains the features of a wheel—it's made from a special compound, has a higher performance rating or rated for severe weather—the salesperson can use the transition, "what this means to you," to provide the customer with a clear understanding of the benefits (i.e., longer tire life, better traction, etc.).
  • Incoming Calls—How to Answer: Friedman says that one of the most common questions she is asked is, "what do you say when you answer an incoming phone call?" She provided a couple of examples of what to use in a phone call, including an important first step of providing a buffer statement.

    Examples of buffers provided were "good morning," "thanks for calling," "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year." Friedman explained, "I really don't care what phrase you use as a buffer; the important thing to remember is that it needs to be there." According to Friedman, the buffer sets up the key second part of answering a phone call and the most important line for a company to deliver—its name. "Buffers are expendable, but your company name is not," she said.

    After using the buffer and providing the company's name, the final step is for the sales person to provide their name to the caller. Friedman provided the following sample statement that is used at her company, The Telephone Doctor: "Thank you for calling The Telephone Doctor, this is Nancy."

    Friedman says that it is important to not to continue talking after you have provided the caller with your name. "Please remember that if you say anything after you stated your name, you run the risk of erasing your name from the caller's memory. We have found that, most of the time, when your greeting stops with the statement of your name, the caller will provide his or her name in return."
  • How to Capture the Call: When someone calls up your company looking for a price on a product or service, answering the question with the price at the top of the call is ineffective and inappropriate, according to Friedman.

    "When people call up for price, it's not that they want the price at the top of the call," she explains. "It's the only question that they really know to ask!" This first call is a great opportunity to engage the caller, find out their name, provide yours and build a rapport. To help start that transition, after receiving a phone call with a price question, she suggests using a statement such as, "Well, you called the right place." It's an inviting approach that is reassuring to the caller, making them feel that they have reached out to the right professionals.  
  • Sympathy vs. Empathy: Is it important to know the distinction between having sympathy and having empathy for a person. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone. Empathy is when you can relate to a person because you went through the same situation that they are experiencing. "It is very important that you don't use a statement such as, 'I know what you mean,' unless you have actually gone through the same situation personally, said Friedman."
  • NUM Calls: No Ulterior Motive calls, or NUM calls, is when you reach out to someone who you have done business with in the past but have not heard from or reached out to in a while. The term is used by the staff at The Telephone Doctor. Friedman likens a NUM call to sending a Christmas card to someone who you haven't reached out to in a long time. The idea is to do it when someone is probably not expecting it. These calls go a long way in keeping the relationship open with a customer.     

Listen to the complete presentation of "21 Super Sales Tips" to hear all of the insight provided by Friedman. The session is available through the SEMA Education Institute (SEI) eLearning Center. The eLearning Center is available anytime and contains a vast library of courses that can be downloaded and played at the user's convenience. The webinar sessions included in the eLearning Center can be browsed by topic or by title. Users are also encouraged to enroll as SEI eLearners to keep track of their completed courses and transcripts.