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Nine out of 10 salespeople wing their way through sales calls, part two

Bill Lee sales & operations

Open-ended questions: To achieve this objective, the second stage of the relationship is to prepare a handful of open-ended questions that when answered will open your eyes to how critical a given objection is to the prospect. In other words, is this objection a “showstopper,” or is it only a minor objection in the prospect’s eyes?

To improve the quality of the questions you ask on a prospect call, it helps to do your homework. Do enough research to know some of the challenges your prospect is struggling with before you make your initial call.

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There are generic questions and others that are more pointed. One of my favorite generic questions makes use of the word IF, should one of your prospects tell you he or she would do business with you, if say, your delivery commitments were more dependable.

Generic Question: IF I could show you documentation that—for the first four months of 2022—we have lived up to our delivery commitments 96.2% of the time, are you telling me we could do business?”

When you begin a question with IF, it becomes a conditional question. The prospect is suggesting that your delivery commitments are undependable. You then ask the prospect: “IF it were not for that reason, are you telling me we could do business?”

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The purpose of the question is to identify the REAL reason for a “NO” answer. Or the REAL reason for an objection. Is it REAL or is it merely an EXCUSE?

When I began calling on prospects in my first sales job, I was selling asphalt roofing. Over 50% of my prospects told me that the reason they didn’t do business with me was because my prices were too high. And I believed them. I was 24 years old. Most of my prospects were more than twice my age. Any normal person would ask themselves the question, “How did my company get to be the largest asphalt roofing company in the country when our prices were so out of line with other manufacturers?”

In his ground-breaking sales book, Success Secrets of the Sales Funnel, author Ray Leone says that “…the Sales Funnel is built on five basic foundations:

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  • The sale is made before the presentation of the product begins (sale before the sale)
  • Salespeople are made—not born
  • Selling is an artful science, with the emphasis on science
  • There is a predetermined formula for going from “Hello” to the contract.
  • Life-Control guidelines can help you understand the cycle of the sales process and individual personality types of the prospect.”

To be as good at selling as you can be, you must become an expert on everything possible about your product, your competition, and your industry. You have heard it said that Knowledge Is Power. Well, a lifetime in the business world has taught me that there is no doubt whatsoever that this is true. No one likes a “know it all,” but everyone likes to do business with salespeople who are experts in their field of endeavor.

In the April issue of LBM Journal, Rick Davis, president of Building Leaders, authored an article he named: “Persuasion is overrated.” In this article, Rick writes, “…Credibility results in a sincere interest to help, an understanding of the business landscape, and the competence to take on a role as a business advisor. The credible salesperson possesses knowledge of the market, best business practices, and advisory business skills on which the buyer can rely.”

Do you believe the professional salesperson Rick Davis described in this article has to have the best price to get the order? I can assure you that he or she does not.

Davis describes salespeople who make the sale long before they pull out the contract.

Like many of you, I was taught that the art of persuasion was one of the most critical secrets to success in the sales profession. After getting my nose bloodied numerous times, I learned that sales is more science than it was persuasion or price.

If you are struggling to build your business, do something for your customers that they are struggling to do for themselves and watch your prospects’ respect for you explode.

Bill Lee is a respected sales and business consultant in the LBM industry. For more information, contact Bill at

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