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The right words

The Right Words - Planned not Canned

Have you ever gotten nervous and said the wrong thing?   Have you ever wished you would have said things differently?   Have you found yourself at a loss for words?  Unfortunately, I have.  Actually, most of us find ourselves in this situation (personally and professionally).  It’s our makeup – human nature, if you will. 

Let’s examine how it affects us professionally in a real-life business situation.  You jump out of your van and boldly walk up to a new client’s lobby.  After maneuvering your way through the double doors, you notice a couple sales types idly reviewing last years purchasing digest.  As you finish the last four steps to the reception’s station, it seems as if all eyes (and ears) are on you.  Suddenly, the butterflies in your stomach begin the devil’s dance. 

The receptionist looks up and with a brusque tone of voice says – no questions, “Yes?”.  For the next three milliseconds, your mind searches for words.  The silence of the moment, the eyes, the ears and the tension cause your throat to tighten.  Then it happens; you announce that you are here to sell black-tipped widgets.  The receptionist puts on her best game face and tells you they have a “policy”.  Policy forbids her to give you information, names or anything else of value, because you are a salesperson.  You’re done.

You had just a couple of seconds to make the right impression and – you blew it. 

Now, let’s put ourselves in a much different scenario.  You worked hard to build a relationship with a good customer.  They buy a lot of black-tipped widgets from you.  Then one day, your best contact has been asked to introduce you to the “big boss” – Mr. Important himself.  It seems Mr. Important is under pressure to drive down the cost of operation.  Before you can settle into your chair, he spouts, “Your prices seem high, we need to talk”.  Ouch – what can you say?   Visions of financial ruin dance through your head.  You see three years of progress swirling around the “sales toilet bowl” as you struggle for words.  Your response rings a bit feeble.  Eventually, you respond with something like, “Let me talk to my manager, maybe we can do better.”

Now imagine that you had prepared ahead of time.  While nerves may have been on end, you would have performed differently.  Instead of stumbling for the right words, your words pack greater impact and present a completely different impact.

I coach sales people to plan what they are going to say.  As simple as it sounds, most sales professionals don’t plan ahead.  To avoid misunderstanding, let me stress, I am not talking about a “canned presentation”.  I refer instead to pre-planned, well thought out words you can call on later.  Your boss can’t write them – neither can I.  It has to be you.  And it only takes a few minutes to make a difference.

Let me get you started with a couple of common points that everyone can put to use.  What will you say -

  • When you call for a first time appointment?
  • When you are told your price is too high?
  • When you are asked what makes your company better than the competition?
  • When you are asked to tell about yourself?

Sales leaders don’t assume that your team knows what to say or has even put much forethought into it.  Good coaches walk their team through the big play at every practice.  Every player knows her part before the first pitch is thrown.  They practice, rehearse and practice some more.  Then on the game day, you can hear them yell through the din of the crowd, “One out, the play is at second base.”  A good sales team is no different - practice, coach, rehearse and get prepared.

We at River Heights Consulting can help.  Our Sales Leadership Subscription features a module called Planned not Canned.  This dynamic skills-based training costs just a fraction of a single bumbled sales call.  It drives a sales process and gives the Sales Leader tools to be a great coach.  Coaching materials, help sheets and a short training session are provided every month.  Give us a call we can help put you in the winners circle.  Whether you are a distributor manager, sales manager, Specialist or just a student of Distribution Management this is right up your alley….

Sales Leadership Modules:

  • Planned Not Canned
  • The Art and Science of the Question
  • Taking the Chill out of First Time Calls
  • Your Price is too High!
  • Getting to Mr. Right

Read on to learn more....


The Sales Leadership Subscription is a year long journey in sales skill creation. 

As you follow the step by step program you notice how your organization begins to develop its own sales process.

Explore the topics covered

Would you invest 30 minutes a month to improve your sales effort?

Early each month The Sales Leadership Subscription arrives at your location via mail.  It’s easy to use - the program is loaded onto a single high quality CD.  Pop the disk into your computer and a menu starts up automatically.  From there, it’s all easy to run and takes an absolute minimum of computer skills.  The whole program will require between 15 and 30 minutes of your reguarly schedu

Each monthly installment of The Sales Leadership Subscription contains:

  • A professionally done PowerPoint presentation with a “voice over”
    Just click play and this presentation comes to life.  A professionally created presentation covering a completely different aspect of the sales skill set. 
  • The same PowerPoint presentation for your own discussion
    Many sales managers find they enjoy leading the sales discussion.  This presentation is prepared and ready to use.  By adding your own personal touch and company culture to the presentation, your own prestige as a sales leader is enhanced.
  • Discussion Tools
    Simply print these out on your own company letter head and use as “talking points” to turn the presentation into a lively discussion
  • Reinforcement Tools
    These are the questions and comments which allow managers to send a message – we have a process and I am going to hold you accountable.
  • Articles and commentary by industry experts
    River Heights Consulting often includes copies of articles which we prepared for some of the leading trade publications of our industry.  Frank Hurtte and his team are noted experts in the field of knowledge-based distribution sales.    



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