What? Am I reading this correctly? Stop selling and I'll close more business? Yes. Let me explain.

I was on an initial meeting with a prospective client last week. This prospect was frustrated that several prospects of his that exhibited classic ready-to-be-closed signs had inexplicably slipped away. He couldn't figure out why, and came to me to help him do so. We began by doing a littlediagnostic work. I first asked him to give me his Initial Sales Approach (I detest the word "pitch"). While it needed some work, it wasn't bad... and besides, fine-tuning it wasn't going to give me any insight as to why he was losing interested prospects. So we continued with a role play: I asked him to pretend he'd secured a meeting with me, and to go ahead and sell me (I played the role,unbeknowst to him, of the father of a six-week old daughter - my first child. In this role, there's nothing more I wanted at this time in my life than to spend more time with my little girl). Well, my prospect begins to present his offering to me, describing this feature and that, at one point showing me how it could save me two hours a day over my current process. Two hours! "What could I do with those two hours?", I thought. You guessed it - see my little girl sooner and longer! At the mention of this very desirable benefit, I interjected, asking him to explain it in more detail. I was really interested! His response? "Hold on Craig, there are a few more things I have to show you that you're gonna love- we'll come back to that later!" And he continued to sell me. All the while,I'm feeling a bit frustrated - and I'm starting to tune out (can you guess why?"I want to buy time savings, and I want to buy it now! Why aren't you letting me," I'm thinking to myself, as the thrill and excitement of the moment - and the momentum - began to fade away. At the conclusion of his presentation, he made an assumptive close, thinking from my initial enthusiasm that I was ready to be closed. But he assumed wrong. I ended up deciding not to buy - at least not yet. Why? By now Ihope you've been able to figure it out. In case you haven't, read on.

My prospect (now client) did many good things in this role play, but he still didn't get an order. Why not? What did he do wrong? He didn't stop selling when he should have! I had clearly bitten early on on a feature his offering had, and the associated benefit it offered. Yet he continued to "sell" the other features, and what he thought were benefits I would like. Well, it turns out that one of thosefeatures was that his prices are 30% less than the nearest competitor's. Good stuff, right? Maybe. But it got me to thinking...hmmm, lower price? Cheaper? Does that mean worse quality? Does he cut corners on post-sale support in order to be profitable at such a low price? How can he be, and still be as good as he claims? Maybe I shouldn't rush into this.....

LESSON - Don't sell every aspect of your offering - only sell what you need to in order to meet the prospect's need and secure the order. Once you've identified those features your prospect tells you are important to him or her, zero in on them to the exclusion of all else. Help him buy the benefits he says he wants - not the benefits you want to sell, or that you think he wants. Doing solessens the risk that you'll inadvertently say something that the prospect finds disagreeable, or worrisome. Plus, why work harder than you have to? Your success is measured by filling an expressed client need and getting a signed contract, not by making a full, comprehensivepresentation that presents every feature and benefit of your offering. Now, if that hapens to be what is required in a particular situation, by all means to do it. But if it's not, taking the short cut is OK - even preferable. That's called selling efficiently. And in today's economy, where opportunities are few and far between, "time-is-money" has most certainly never been truer.


Think back to deals you've worked. Did you lose a deal, or delay its closure, by "overselling"? What would you have done differently? Review your current pipeline - have you identified the key selection criteria for each influencer, and for the decision maker? If not, get to it. If you have,focus laser-like on them, and make sure your prospect knows you offer the best solution on those criteria. Only introduce other features and benefits if the prospect indicates that the key ones are not enough for him to feel comfortable to proceed with you and your offering. Before you know it, your close ratio will go up, and you'll be taking more home in your paycheck.

Let me know how this exercise works for you. Send an email to, and I'll publish your accomplishment on our web site, as an inspiration for others.

Good selling!

Author's Bio: 

Craig James is president of Sales Solutions, a sales productivityimprovement company. Visit read more informative articles like this one, and to learn how we canhelp you improve your own sales performance, or that of your staff.