Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

My Best Sales Advice for 2016

My best sales advice for 2016 (or any year for that matter) is to make this the year of extreme curiosity. If you are selling a product that requires some level of understanding your customer, then you need to stop thinking of yourself as a salesperson and truly get into the mindset of a consultant. So, here is a simple four-step process for you to be much more successful in 2016.

ONE:  Practice the art of asking superb questions. Think deeply about the specific information you need to obtain in order to offer the perfect solution to your customer. Reflect on the information you want to receive from your customer when they answer your question, what do you want them to say, what specifically do you want them to tell you? Remember, that you don’t have an unlimited number of questions, so make sure that every question counts and helps you collect the critical information that will allow you understand the customer’s real needs and move the sale forward. To help you with this, I suggest you create a list of the key information you need to gather from almost every client. For example, in a business-to-business sale you might need to know:

  • What is the timeframe to make this decision?
  • Who will be involved in the decision-making process?
  • What is your budget for this project?
  • What are your selection criteria?
  • What other companies are you looking at to help you with this project?
  • What are the top issues that you hope that we can help you with?
  • What are the financial implications if you can’t find the exact right solution?
  • What would the financial upside be if we can deliver the exact right solution?
  • What would the exact right solution look like to you?

These are just a few examples, but take some time to sit down and write out the 10 most important pieces of information you have to get from every client and then write an elegant and focused question to get the client to give you the specific information you need.

TWO: Once you ask an excellent question, you must then be an intense listener. Make the person you’re talking to the most important person on the face of the earth while you are sitting there talking to them. Forget about your cell phone, forget about your next appointment, forget about your quota,  forget about your golf game this weekend – give them your total and undivided attention.

THREE: As you are listening intently, take highly detailed notes. Put a star next all important ideas, list out their buying criteria, and underline key budget numbers. Take notes that allow you to perfectly summarize and paraphrase what the client has shared with you to demonstrate that you have listened very carefully to them and understand their needs, wants, wishes, desires and concerns.

FOUR: Now, and only now, have you earned the right to start talking about your product or service!!!

I have met so many salespeople that do the opposite of what I am recommending here. They come in and immediately pitch their product, ask very few if any questions, and don’t write any notes. This is why 88% of senior executives say that the number one reason they won’t see a salesperson is: They waste my time!

If you follow the four steps I have listed above, you will be seen as a consultant and peer that is there to learn as much as they possibly can about their client so that they can deliver a true value-added solution at a reasonable (not lowest) price.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful, I very much look forward to your comments. – John


  1. perfect said. Also, Letters to a CEO is an excellent book. Thank you

  2. Ganesh says:

    Dear John Sir,

    Its very nice technique to do for increasing sales.
    but when It comes to relate My Business Home made meal and home deliver to customer.
    how am i use this tools .I donot know


    • Douglas Bell says:

      Hi Ganesh

      You can always employ the practice of being a good and attentive listener.

      Perhaps a first time customer does not give you the opportunity to interact.
      Once an order is placed, you then have an opportunity to not only shine, but to gain important insight into what makes this customer (and many others!) happy.

      For you, following up with your customers, getting to know each as best as you are able, will ensure a stable and reliable customer base because people like to feel that they have been heard.

      Gainesville, FL

  3. Thanks John for the good reminder of what to do to create value. One other question that I try to ask them, or to at least get the answer to, What is your pain? It helps to bring my thought process back full circle. If I have a solution to eliminate the items that are causing your pain, you will do business with me.


  4. Love this article! It is just what our company teaches and strives for; to be Consultants not Sales people, because we want our clients long term.
    Your checklist of questions hits the nail on the head and the priority of listening, gathering facts then validation of your understanding is exactly on target to build the proper repore. All of this before you tell them how your product can help them. Awesome Article; I’m sharing it with others!

  5. Great post, John. I’d even go one step further– don’t think like a consultant, think like a doctor (

  6. Well i have tasted these advices with sure sales success.You are spot on boss.

  7. Paula says:

    Concise. Clean. And pertinent advice.

  8. Paul Hornbogen says:

    John keep these excellent articles for coming sir. I am trying to use each one of your tech and those of Mike W. Jill K and Tony I to teach myself sales and add value in the services I am promoting in my two side businesses.

  9. Lovely article , thank you

  10. Barry Hall says:

    As usual John great advise many thanks Barry.

  11. Immediately reposted on LinkedIn, John. Love it.

  12. Di Palmer says:

    Great advice John – as always. I have sent onto my team.


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