What is the first step toward fixing a sales mistake that alienates customers and costs you business? You have to recognize that you did, in fact, make a mistake. And you have to know what the mistake was. That’s one way that great sales training can come in especially handy.

Alan Brown, vice president of business development for Sundyne Corp. of Arvada, Colo., a maker of industrial pumps and compressors, recalls a kick in the pants he once got from a customer. The reason would have been a complete mystery, Brown says, if not for something he learned in sales training.

The kick came when Brown requested a meeting with a corporate procurement manager. “I asked for the meeting mostly because I was going to be in his building visiting with someone else,” Brown says. Here was the customer’s email response:

No thanks. Our talks have been unproductive, and I need to focus my efforts where I can produce results.
If something changes, I’ll be more than happy to meet with you if we can move our business forward appropriately.

“Ouch,” Brown says. “That reply made me think of the sales training I had recently received from Action Selling, and I realized that I didn’t follow my favorite Action Selling rule: If you don’t have a Commitment Objective, don’t make the call.”

No Commitment Objective, no call

A Commitment Objective is an agreement you want from the customer as a result of a sales call—a “next step” you want the customer to agree to take to keep the sales process moving forward. Action Selling’s sales training teaches that if you go into any sales call without a Commitment Objective, you are wasting the customer’s time as well as your own.

What that rule means, even for sales veterans who think they possess well-honed sales skills, is that a lot of the client calls they make are flat-out mistakes—arranged for the wrong reasons and doomed to failure.

Case in point: “My last visit with this gentleman had been in a similar situation, where I was meeting with someone else and added him to my schedule just to fill my day,” Brown admits. “Wrong decision. I obviously didn’t show value during that meeting. Why? Because I lacked a Commitment Objective.

“This was a good learning experience for me. It certainly reinforced the concept that Commitment Objectives aren’t just for the salesperson’s benefit. They keep you from wasting the customer’s time.”

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

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Duane Sparks - Sales Training in Action: The Commitment Objective


Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).