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Is there a sales secret? YES! You already know it!

Note: This column marks the beginning of my 14th year of writing every Friday. Wow! I’ve hammered out 676 columns.

What is the secret of selling?

Two years ago, I created a sales model called “Intelligent Engagement.” I referred to “engagement” as the secret of selling. If you can’t engage the prospect, he or she will never come to buy (from you).

The model consisted of 4.5 components:

1. Preparation: how you get ready to engage.

2. Questions: what you ask to engage.

3. Ideas: the ideas you bring to engage and gain interest.

4. Presentation Skills and Communication Skills: the language you use to engage.

4.5 Attitude and Enthusiasm: the transferable passion within you to engage.

Pretty interesting model. And it worked. So, I began to slowly expand and refine it. After two years of personally using the “Intelligent Engagement” model, I have come to a better understanding of how powerful this model is.

For example, I found that “intelligent engagement” was only part of the engagement process. There were other important aspects of “engagement” in the sales process. The sale is made emotionally — and justified logically. So “emotional engagement” is also a vital part of the process.

And what about “friendly?” Heck yeah, friendly is vital. So, “friendly engagement” became part of the model.

So, here is the new strategy of how engagement, one of the secrets of selling, works. Please note that the first three — friendly engagement, emotional engagement and intelligent engagement — have no order of importance. They are equally important and are used throughout the selling process.

And also note that these elements are not about the traditional “appoint, probe, present, overcome objections, close” method of selling. Those 50-year-old practices are dead. The problem is that 95% of salespeople haven’t heard the news.

Also note that this strategy completely eliminates “educating” the customer about who you are. They don’t care who you are, UNLESS they perceive that you can help them. That’s where engagement comes in. If you talk about yourself, they are NOT engaged. If you talk about them, ask about them, provide ideas for them and about them, and communicate in terms of them — they will become so engaged that they will buy.

As you read these elements, try to think of how, and how well, you engage your prospective buyers. Here’s big clue number one: If a prospect says, “I’m not interested,” it really means that you are not interesting. They are NOT engaged.

Here’s how the engagement process is defined and how it can work for you:

Friendly engagement

Because people want to do business with people they like, the first sale that’s made is the salesperson. There’s an old sales adage that goes, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.” Friendly breeds the customer’s belief, confidence and trust in you. It’s the gateway to the sale AND the relationship. Implementation idea: I never start talking business until I’m certain I have established a friendly atmosphere.

Emotional engagement

Buying is done emotionally — and justified logically. Your passion, your belief in what you sell, and your desire to help will drive the buying decision. Your emotion transfers to the buyer. Combine this with your ability to draw out the emotion of the buyer, and it will lead you to their real buying motive — the real reason they want what you have. Implementation idea: Think about why you buy. That will give you the best clue about the emotional decision-making process of others.

Intelligent engagement

Intelligence earns respect. The intelligence of your questions — and the answers to their questions — can differentiate you from your competition faster than any aspect of the sale. Also, you need to use your intelligence to support the logical justification of their emotional decision to buy. Implementation idea: Ask questions that you are CERTAIN your competition will never ask.

Sustained engagement

This is the ability of the salesperson to engage at the beginning, engage throughout the presentation, engage through follow-up, engage from point of sale through time of delivery, engage after the sale, engage to earn a referral, engage to build a relationship and engage to earn a second order. This element is the true test of sales AND customer loyalty. Implementation idea: Look at the last 10 sales you made. And look at the possibility of reorders. That will tell you how you are sustaining engagement.

The “Intelligent Engagement” model is becoming more of a center piece of my presentations and our custom training modules. Salespeople like it because they can instantly relate to it. They also use it and make sales with it.

And there is more. “Engagement” is only part of the secret. There is one other word that completes it. Once you know both words, the sales world is your oyster. And that word will appear next week.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail


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