When you hear about some company landing a monster deal, how often do you wonder who the sales rep was? G.B. Rand, a senior rep in the wholesale division of Thomas Petroleum, is your guy.

Rand attended his first sales training program based on the Action Selling system just 60 days prior to landing an epic deal with a prospect he had been chasing for months—along with every competitor in his industry. “It’s the biggest and longest-term contract in the history of our company,” he crowed: “133 million gallons of fuel over the next 20 years.”

Rand reworked and practiced his game plan for the prospect during the sales training course and the sales coaching that came with it. “In order to get this level of commitment, I knew that gaining trust and respect would be a huge factor,” he said.

Rand understood that trust and respect are not emotions that attach strongly to products or to companies. They attach to people. As the sales training program phrased it, his first challenge was not to sell fuel to the client but to sell himself. How? Not by talking about himself but by asking the right questions and listening carefully to the answers. “The sales training facilitator, Tony Martin, helped me during a role-play session to ask great questions that would build trust,” Rand said.

The new client not only committed to buy an enormous amount of fuel but also agreed to a half-million-dollar upgrade of his fuel equipment.

Every customer’s first buying decision: whether to buy you.

Research proves that the first major buying decision every customer makes, during every single sales call, is not about your product or your company or your price. It is about the salesperson. I cannot stress this enough: Customers will not buy anything else from you unless they first decide to buy YOU.

So what kinds of sales skills allow you sell yourself? Here’s how you don’t do it: You don’t do it by talking about yourself. You don’t do it by displaying how much you know. You don’t do it by trying to demonstrate that you’re the smartest person in the room.

The way to sell yourself is by asking great questions and then listening very carefully to the answers. Ask about the customer as an individual. Ask about the personal and business-related needs that will drive the customer’s buying decision. Ask again to double-check your understanding and to gain the customer’s agreement on which needs are truly critical.

Those are genuinely crucial sales skills, and if a sales training program or a sales coaching initiative can help you master them, then you are spending your time wisely.

On the other hand, if the sales training courses and sales coaching initiatives you are delivering to your sales force are not tackling this issue head-on, you are wasting your money.

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

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

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).