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Ask the right questions and listen….

A perplexed acquaintance shared a story which I have heard time and time again. He is well educated in his field of service; his support staff (2 ) is well trained. He is active in civic affairs in his community and very involved in his church. He volunteers twice a month at a “soup kitchen” and is always willing to lend a helping hand. In addition he has a college degree and served as president of his fraternity.

So what is the problem? He shared that he closes only one of five presentations when trying to sell his services. It’s not an issue of getting in front of people, the problem is the close.

I asked him to come to my office the following day and to give me his presentation. I asked for the entire presentation, from the greeting to the end, as if he did not know me.

The appointed hour came and he arrived 10 minutes early (good start) and then we sat down together. I asked my usual lead question, “tell me about yourself” and waited for his answer.

He was prepared; he retrieved his i-pad and moved his chair so that we both could look at the small screen and by touching the screen, he shared his story. It started with his own education and pre-business activities. From there, the following pages showed a very involved man, caring about his community.  His business credentials followed; graphs and a few pictures were part of the presentation. The final screen, in bold letters, said  “XXXXXXX” is the perfect company to service your needs.

I timed the presentation, it took 14 minutes. I waited for the close, but only silence prevailed. ( I later learned that he was from the “first one to speak loses” school.) I continued my play acting and thanked him for his presentation and promised to get back to him.

I was told that my reaction was typical of many that he received from prospective clients. He was concerned about his presentation, asking me what I thought was missing.

There were a lot of mistakes made, starting with his first reaction to the question I asked, “Tell me about yourself”. In my opinion, the correct action was to answer the statement with the following question: What would you like to know about me and my company”? The art of selling is one of doing the most listening to the answers that your thought-provoking questions bring forth.

There are several dozen questions that can be used to achieve a successful close to a sales presentation. These questions should be memorized and then inserted at the proper time in the conversation. The job of the presenter is to make the other person feel good and smart then let him make the wise decision to engage your services.

Experience isn’t always the best teacher – evaluated experience is!

Nick J Petra CFP      Subscribe to this blog at   and contact Nick for a confidential interview at   There is so much we can accomplish together!

Make it a Successful Today.





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