Laura asked: Hi Rick, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on creating and maintaining control of the entire sales process.   Laura

Doug replied: Laura (and others), That’s an interesting one. I just finished reading an e-book on Socratic Selling. They say that the salesperson shouldn’t control the sales call. That the client should. The salesperson’s job is to ask questions to lead the prospect to the need. But you have to listen to the prospect so find out their pains and let them control the basic call. I like to socratic part. Asking questions. But I’m not sure about letting the propect control the call. Maybe we just let them think they are in control?    Doug

Dave Kurlan replied: Laura and Doug, Control is a two-way street.  Socratic Selling is a complicated questioning process.  Having the prospect control the process is akin to having the passengers fly the plane. You can control the process with your questions but the questioning process must be simple and actionable.  You can easily learn to do that by reading Baseline Selling.  Go to for more information.     Dave Kurlan

OK. What do I think? I think that the person asking the questions is in control. The person asking good questions is not only in control, but is asking them in such a way that the prospect feels as though they are in control. However, the person asking great questions is not only in control and allowing the prospect to feel as though they are in control, but the entire process is moving the prospect toward an acceptable decision.

I know that’s not the specific answer that Laura was looking for. She was hoping for “the trick” that always works. Sorry, but tricks don’t work. People don’t like to be tricked. Start by understanding that salesperson is in control from moment #1. The salesperson can dial the phone, walk in, open the store, stand in a booth at a trade show, or intentionally put himself in front of a prospect. They can maintain control by asking a question that the prospect wishes to answer and does. They can ask a question that a prospect feels “forced” to answer, but doesn’t want to. Or, they can blurt out some statement so the prospect can say, “Just looking.”, “Not interested.”, or some other response that indicates that the salesperson should leave them alone. It starts there.

Whether you are an expert in law, accountancy, marketing , IT, web design, graphic design, carpentry, plumbing, HR services, or any other area, your prospect doesn’t need to know everything that you know. How do you know what they do need to know? Ask good questions, that keep the prospect interested and engaged and naturally lead to an acceptable decision, while at the same time won’t cause the opposition to voice an objection like, “Leading the witness!” or, “Irrelevant!” or, “Argumentative!”. (Too many lawyer shows.) Any of those objections will cause a prospect to feel that you are trying to take control away from them and they will resist and you will be at their mercy.

In short, there is no short answer. Your style will eventually be combination of other peoples’ styles. So, look at various styles. Watch the practitioners. Determine which styles work. I, personally, have read many books including both of Dave Kurlan’s. I’ve attended hundreds of training sessions by dozens of trainers. I’ve had several coaches work with me. I practice, practice, practice. When you’re as committed to yourself as I was to me, you’ll take control and do the same.

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