Module #2 to Translate


Humans love to be in control. That’s not always possible as there are many factors we simply have no control over. Salespeople, in particular, love to be in control of the sales process, but it’s not easy because the customer or prospect also wants to be in control. Often they are older, more experienced, or seemingly more confident than you, and that can be off-putting.

As a salesperson, you also want to come across as polite and empathetic but acting this way can give away control to the customer too. In this module, we will help you balance your approach and if you take on board all the lessons and the necessary actions suggested – you will improve your control and, as a result, your confidence levels will increase in line with your improved sales performance.  

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Let’s begin 

You need to use your imagination. If you don’t understand – read the story and the rules again. 

Take your time.

Imagine for a moment, that you’ve received news that an old friend of yours, someone you haven’t seen for a long time, has recently started a new business. They’ve opened a pen shop in your area. One day, you are off from work and walking near your friend’s pen shop, so you decide to visit and wish them well.

Your friend is delighted to see you and proudly shows you around the shop.  After catching up and sharing stories, your friend asks if you could watch over the shop for a few minutes while they pop into the bank across the street. You say, “Sure, no problem”. 

A couple of minutes later, a nice-looking, middle-aged, friendly gentleman enters the shop, says “Hi”, and starts looking at a selection of pens. You think how great it would be if you could sell him a pen, and surprise your friend by handing them the cash on their return. 

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Your objective is to sell the pen.

Rules of the exercise:

You can say and make up any features you wish (the pen can shoot a deadly poison dart or it can be made of solid gold – anything – it’s up to you).

Try to think of what would make the customer buy – what do you think would persuade them?

You also have control of the price – make it up – whatever you think.

You must write what you would say below in the box. You must write a minimum of 30 words and a maximum of 60.

Example answer:

“This beautiful pen was made in Switzerland and is made from solid silver. It is a top-seller. There is a special discount today – 50% off and so the price is only $100 dollars.” (34 words)

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Do you get it?

If your answer was to sell the pen by talking about its features and price – you got it wrong on this occasion.

It was a little bit of a trick question because the way we formulated the question encouraged you to provide features rather than what you should have done; ask questions about the customer’s needs. 

The saying, “Sell me the pen”, was made famous by Jordan Belfort. He was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street” – it’s definitely worth 2 hours of your time to watch one of the best sales movies of all time. If you don’t like movies – read his book.

Why is the pen question important in sales? Because it highlights your thinking about selling. Answering the question by highlighting the various features of the product is called value-added selling.   

The problem with value-based selling is that you show zero knowledge of what the buyer feels is important to them. 

If you did ask questions such as, “Is the pen for you or is it a gift?” or “What color pen are you in the market for?”, this is called solution-based selling.

There is a third technique – problem creation. Instead of asking open questions, you ask questions that reveal the customer’s pain points. Great salespeople use questions that make the customer become aware of a problem they didn’t realize they had. If you can learn this type of selling technique, you will be on the road to success!

Most potential customers, especially first-time buyers, intent on purchasing a product have already researched online without really knowing if the type of product is actually the right fit for them. 

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If you are a pen salesperson and a potential customer (prospect) walks into the pen shop you must find out:

  • What are they here for? 
  • Who is this for? 
  • Why do they need it?

[Q] Do you understand why you need to conduct a needs assessment? Yes/No

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Find the reason

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So, what is the needs assessment?

It’s the process of identifying the basic features and benefits your customer needs in his vehicle.

Salespeople often love to jump right into negotiations. But you need to break that habit and learn how to conduct a good needs assessment.

You need to give the needs assessment the focus it deserves. It is also important in helping you develop a relationship with your customer. When we talk about a relationship, it does not mean becoming best buddies and going off on holiday with each other. Sure, you may have a really friendly relationship with some customers but the relationship we are talking about is a professional relationship built on trust

You will sell more if you come across and behave in a trustworthy manner and the needs assessment phase in the customer journey gives you the opportunity to start building that trust.  

In this module, you will learn:

  • How to conduct an effective needs assessment
  • Ideas and techniques that help put you in control of customer interactions.
  • How to develop your sales game plan 

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Asking  questions

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The art of asking good questions

Ask good questions. You can gain more in negotiations by asking lots of questions — ones that are likely to get helpful answers. Avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions and leading questions, such as, “Don’t you think that’s a great idea?”. Instead, craft neutral questions that encourage detailed responses, such as, “Can you tell me why you don’t like the option?”.

You probably know the process to follow. You should also know your product knowledge. 

But often, the process is difficult to keep on course, as the customer immediately takes control of the situation by asking you questions, and of course, you reply with the best answers you can give. 

But by doing that, you have given control to the customer.

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The need to develop your game plan

Dismissed for failing to sell.

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A long time ago, I started out in London as a life insurance salesperson. Selling insurance isn’t easy. The customer only gets a piece of paper with a signed promise – there’s nothing to touch and feel – no beautiful car or bike. You need the customer to trust you. You’re really selling trust!

The rule In the company that employed me was that if you failed to close at least one deal every month – you lost your job. And by the end of my first month, I had failed to make a sale. My manager called me into his office and told me the company had to let me go. I was really upset and I’m not ashamed to say that I let a tear or two roll down my face. My manager felt sorry for me and decided to give me one more chance. But there was a condition: I had to follow his instructions the next time I met a prospective customer.   

He told me to record the conversation, and so I did. Then he gave me a piece of A4 paper with a line drawn down the middle of the page. He said “Robert, listen to the recording, and every time the customer asks a question write a tick on the left-hand side of the line, and every time you ask a question, tick on the right-hand side of the line. When you’re done, bring me the paper.”

On the left-hand side – the side recording the customer’s questions, there were 27 ticks. On the right-hand side – my questions to the customer – there were only 8. Here’s what my manager said:

“Robert the reason you are not making sales is that you are not in control – the customer is. Whoever asks the most questions is in control.” It was a revelation for me and from then on, I focused on asking questions, good questions – the right questions. 

I’m proud to say, I went on to become a top salesperson. It’s a simple but effective lesson. You can do it yourself. I highly recommend it. 

Asking questions is the key!

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Actually, what you need to add to your knowledge of process and product is a game plan and a strategy. You could try changing your approach a little, instead of letting the customer dictate the interaction between you both. To do so, you need to think differently.

Early on in the process, identify and understand the prospect’s major pain points and aspirations.

Benefits in asking questions:

  • Show that you are interested in why the customer is here
  • Build credibility
  • Establish trust
  • Decrease anxiety and tension
  • Structure negotiations
  • Help in selecting the right model for the customer
  • Allow salespeople to control the process without confrontation
  • It demonstrates that you are different in the marketplace
  • Create excitement and urgency

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What should I ask?

So, what are good questions to ask that will help sell motorbikes?

  • “What brought you here today and how did you find out about our showroom?”
  • “What do you know about the bike you want to buy?”
  • “Do you own a bike now, and if so, what is it?”
  • “What do you like best about your current bike?”
  • “Does it meet all your needs?”
  • “If you could change one thing about it, what would it be?”
  • “What else?”

These are some really simple but brilliant questions to ask. This helps drive the conversation and keeps the customer engaged. 

Now more than ever, it’s your responsibility to ensure that visiting your showroom and meeting you is an enjoyable experience. Taking the time to conduct a friendly professional needs assessment at the beginning of the selling process will help point the customer, and you, in the right direction. As a result, you’ll be seen as a friend in the customer’s eyes, rather than an enemy. Being a friend will help ensure when you get to the negotiation that you’re negotiating on the right bike.

Let’s be clear though… Many customers do know the right bike for them. The needs assessment is about making sure that you know the buying motives of the customer.

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How to measure it?

How to measure your customer control level

Nowadays, people are more sensitive about privacy and we need to respect that. The following instructions can measure without compromising their privacy.

If you take notes (and you should), you can simply record who asks the most questions; you or the customer.


  1. You need a post-it, a pen, and a notebook or tablet. Add post-it picture
  2. On a blank post-it, draw a line down the middle. On the top left-hand side write “Customer” and on the top right put “Me”. Add demo picture
  3. Stick the post-it to the page you are taking notes on. If using a tablet, stick the post-it to the top corner of the screen. 
  4. Every time you ask a question put a tick on the right-hand side under your name, and every time the customer or prospect asks a question – put a tick on the left-hand side. Add demo picture
  5. At the end of the process – when the customer or prospect has left – revisit your post-it and count the number of ticks under each side. Add demo picture

Measurement results

Roughly work out the percentage of questions that YOU asked. If you asked: 

Less than 20% of the questions

You are not in control –  on your post-it – write down a few simple open questions and stick the post-it in your notebook where you can easily refer to the questions. After a short time of asking these questions to customers, it will become automatic.

20-40% of the questions 

Hey, pretty good, but adding a few more questions will help you gain more control – try to add “open” questions. You can also write down questions in your notebook to remind you.

50-60%  of the questions

Bang on!!! This is the ideal range. It’s worth conducting a control measurement test every now and then to make sure you have not slipped out of the ideal range.

60-70% of the questions

Ease up a little and try asking more “open” questions, such as: 

What are you looking for today?

What were the main reasons you chose our product?

What is the most important feature for you?

70-100%  of the questions [Add FBI picture Do not translate in this bracket only]

Wow, you are conducting an interrogation. You need to re-evaluate your approach. Remember that you are trying to build trust and a positive relationship. Coming across as domineering or super pushy may work on rare occasions, but it is not effective as a top sales game plan.

It really is a simple and effective exercise. If you want to improve your confidence and control – you should take action. Use the Nike approach – Just Do It.

You need to take action!

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[Q] Are you willing to measure your control level? yes/no

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Taking control

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Take control definition:

To gain, assume, or exercise the ability or authority to manage, direct, or influence something.

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In a conversation with a customer – you can own it… or you can let the customer own you. Which is best for you? How do you get people to be open to what you’re saying to them?

The best way to increase the likelihood of people agreeing with you is to frame it in your mind as “offering them a possibility”.

Go into every customer conversation with a clearly defined plan and goal. 

The best frontline employees don’t just play things by ear. They enter every conversation with a goal for the conversation and a plan for how to achieve that.

In reality, you might not always achieve your top goal. So, you should also have a backup goal in mind. That enables you to make progress on the issue even if things don’t go exactly as you might have planned.

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Taking Notes

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The benefits if you take notes:

  • It provides visual proof that you are listening
  • It makes you look professional.
  • You have a written record to refer to.
  • It improves your memory.
  • Notes can spark additional questions or ideas.
  • It makes customers feel important.
  • Taking notes helps you prioritize. 
  • Taking notes increases your attention span. 
  • Taking notes improves your organization skills. 
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Doctors, lawyers, and detectives all take notes. In fact, they couldn’t possibly do their jobs well unless they did so. They understand the importance.  

So why is it so important?

“Researchers found that if important information was contained in notes, it had a 34 percent chance of being remembered. Information not found in notes had only a five percent chance of being remembered.” (Howe, 1970, in Longman and Atkinson, 1999).

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Collecting information

Typically, salespeople cannot wait to tell every customer what the overall best features of the products are and how the company is differentiated and better than the competitors. However, that is not customer-focused selling, and it is not, by any means, the best approach.

When you are selling, you need to leave behind the focus on your business and your products and focus instead on your customer and your customer’s needs.

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Do not translate [group exercise] [Video demonstration on how to collect customer information?]

Do not translate Exercise – guide 3-2-1 exercise

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If you’re thinking to yourself, “I already have all these habits, but I’m still not where I want to be”,  the best thing you can do for yourself is to practice. Work with another person to act like a tough customer

Lionel Messi and Ronaldo are considered by many to be the best two footballers in the world, and yet they still train and practice every day… 


Sales Managers should organize (delegate) and make time to have their sales team role play. Reading will not help you play tennis. It’s the same with selling. You need to practice. It’s proven to help sell more products!

Review your performance

The top performers in every line of work review their performance. Sports, movie, and pop stars, as well as other top professionals, know it’s vital to review their performance, no matter how painful that process may be.  

Ideally, you should ask yourself the questions below after every customer interaction. Of course, you’re busy and under pressure and so it may slip your mind. Try writing down the questions on a post-it note and stick it on the top of your monitor. It only takes a few seconds to glance at the questions and answer in your mind. It’s a fantastic habit to build into your work life. Doing so would have an enormously positive effect on your performance and therefore your career. It’s a bit like going to the gym. You won’t see improvement after just one workout. However, it only takes a few weeks for the work to start showing results. It’s exactly the same with reviewing your customer interactions. 

At the end of a customer interaction ask yourself this;

  • Did I come across as an expert?
  • Was I able to answer customer questions?
  • Did I come across as a proud brand ambassador?
  • Did I come across as enthusiastic and passionate?
  • Did I introduce accessories and merchandise to the customer?
  • Did I use the learned techniques?
  • Did I talk at the appropriate voice volume and pace?
  • Did I express open body language during the entire interaction?
  • Did I listen to the customer carefully and not interrupt them?
  • Did I build confidence in the customer’s mind that it is a great product?

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The lack of feeling in control can have extremely negative effects on our mental and physical health. Not being in control of a situation can cause an increase in stress levels. You can’t control everything in your life, and it’s important you come to terms with that fact. However, you can take more control of customer interactions without having to do a personality transplant. 

Anyone can do it. You need to read the content shared today, and take it seriously. It’s strongly recommended that you read the content in this module again, to better absorb the information. The benefits to you are profound. Your stress level will decrease, your confidence will improve, and you’ll enhance the chances of success in your career. You need to stop thinking and start doing. Take control.

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Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do ask questions (lots of questions)
  • Do review your performance (keep a note on your monitor or laptop)
  • Do take notes (either on a screen or paper)
  • Do use a good looking pen and notebook/notepad

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  • Don’t raise your voice (you lose control when you do)
  • Don’t tell anyone to calm down (generally it will have the opposite effect) 
  • Don’t wear a dirty or untidy uniform (there’s no point if the uniform is not worn well)
  • Don’t forget to ask permission before taking notes

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Well done, you have completed your second module. 

Before you go, could you please answer these questions?

  1. Did you understand the objective of the lesson?

[Where 1 is low and 5 is high]

  1. How confident are you to apply what you have learned?

[Where 1 is not confident and 5 is very confident] 

  1. How useful and practical is this to your work?

[Where 1 is not practical and 5 is very practical]

  1. Please indicate what was the most useful thing you have learned?
  1. Any extra comments you’d like to make?