Skip to main content
Gerry Weinberg & Associates, Inc. | Southfield, Michigan

Sandler Brief


Gwen’s closing rate wasn’t looking good; she had missed quota for three consecutive quarters. She asked her manager Eileen for a little help in figuring out what she could do to improve. Among the questions, Eileen asked during their one-on-one meeting was this one: “Can I take a look at your proposals?”

The answer was “Yes”. After the coaching session, Gwen quickly passed along all the proposals she had put together over the past ninety days. What Eileen saw gave her pause.

Mike’s list of “active” prospects was always long and detailed, and he was sure everyone knew this during his team’s sales meetings. But when his manager Jacqueline did a little digging, she was surprised to learn how few of Mike’s “active” prospects matched up with the ideal sales cycle. Some were taking two or three times as long to reach a decision as the prospects of other salespeople on the team.

What was going on? The answer, it turned out, was pretty simple. Mike was spending a great deal of time on “opportunities” that he should have been able to realize were going nowhere.


Leo, a new sales hire, was having a hard time making quota. He asked his colleague Sam for some help.

Sam asked, “Can I sit in on your next presentation?”

“Sure,” said Leo. “You can come along to my presentation appointment tomorrow. It’s an account I’ve been working on for a while. Let me know how it sounds.”

Sam agreed and sat in on Leo’s meeting, which ended with a “Thanks, but no thank” response from the prospect. During the car ride on the way back to the office, Leo asked Sam for constructive feedback.

Melody was feeling unmotivated.

Carlos, her sales manager, was pressuring her once again to improve her closing ratio …but as usual, he wasn’t giving her much guidance on how she should go about accomplishing this goal. Yes–her numbers were bad. Melody knew that. But after three months on the job, she was tired of being lectured about the numbers and didn’t feel supported in her efforts to turn things around. In fact, she wasn’t even sure she wanted to continue in sales.

Tom, a recent sales hire, was struggling. He knew his closing ratios were not what they could be. He asked his manager, Victor, for some help in figuring out why.

Victor agreed to sit in on some of Tom’s initial phone discussions with prospective buyers, and to accompany Tom on a couple of his sales meetings. After work, the two went out to lunch together to debrief on everything that had happened, and to see if Victor could offer Tom any insights that might improve his interactions with prospective buyers.

“What’s the most important change you think I could make?’ Tom asked. “If you were a prospect, what would make it easier for you to decide t buy from me?”

“Well,” Victor replied, “one thing did jump out at me. I’m a little uneasy about sharing it, though, because it’s something I have had a little difficulty with myself sometimes.”

This piqued Tom’s interest. “Really? What that?” he asked.

Bert’s major frustration was dealing with prospects who couldn’t seem to make a decision.

During a weekly coaching session, he told his manager, Elaine, that one of his biggest difficulties was dealing with prospects who indicated the desire to make a decision, and who pledged to do so by a certain date. When the date rolls around, though, they invariably needed more time. “They’re driving me crazy,” Bert said.

Elaine asked: “Bert, are they driving you crazy? Or are you?”


How many times have prospects told you, “I need more time to make a decision?” Too many?

When you first meet with a new prospect, how do you position your product or service? How do you characterize its various feature, functions, and advantages? Which elements do you emphasize as having the strongest potential appeal to the prospect?

It’s difficult to determine which aspect of your product or service will hold the most meaning for the prospect until you understand the prospect’s motivation for the potential purchase. Once you’ve discovered that, you’ll be able to position your product or service as a best-fit from the prospect’s perspective.

So, what motivates people to buy? There’s been a lot written on the topic. The prevalent theory is that people buy to either gain pleasure…or avoid pain. Broadly speaking, that’s absolutely correct. In fact, psychologists suggest that those are the two reasons that drive people to take any action.

Jim had been working on a big deal for four months. Before he gave his presentation, his sales manager asked, “Is this prospect qualified?”

Jim answered “Yes” with total confidence. The next day, however, he learned that a competitor had gotten the deal – because of a very recent change in his contact’s buying priorities.

Jim hadn’t picked up on this change.

During his debrief with his sales manager, Jim asked, “What do you think I could have done differently?”

His sales manager thought for a moment and said, “Well – did you confirm all your information with your contacts before you agreed to make your presentation?”

Jim shook his head. He hadn’t confirmed anything … on a deal he’d been working on for more than a quarter!

Jack lost a huge deal because of a sudden, ill-conceived emotional response.

After spending weeks preparing a presentation for Ryan, his biggest prospect, Jack was dumbfounded to hear Ryan say, five minutes into the talk, “The assumptions are all too simplistic here. This slide deck looks like something a five-year-old could have put together.”

Jack’s response to this strange remark was instant – and ill-considered. Intent on proving himself right, and his potential client wrong, he said, “That’s an odd thing to say, Ryan, considering that you and I have met four different times about this project…and there’s not one single syllable in this presentation that you didn’t personally sign off on last week when we went out to lunch to discuss it. Actually, there’s a lot of very hard work here from both sides.”

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve finally obtained the appointment. You’re looking forward to meeting with the prospect and asking the questions you carefully prepared in order to qualify the opportunity. You arrive at the appointment on time (or start the videoconference on time) ... but before you can ask you first question, the prospect says, “OK, take it from the top. Show me what you’ve got.”

And the meeting goes downhill from there.

It’s an all too common pattern. You invest time and energy gathering information, working up prices, and putting together your presentation. Then you deliver the presentation in a competent, professional manner. You believe that you are going to get the sale, or at the very least, obtain a clear decision. Instead, you get one objection after another, followed by a series of stalls, and finally, you leave with nothing more than the prospect’s promise to give your presentation some “careful thought”.