Show Them You Can Think – Sales eXecution 3274

By Tibor Shanto – 

I recently sat through a demo for a product that potentially could have been of interest. The rep had just the right amount of enthusiasm, mix of personality based small talk, right down to the obligatory question asked by Americans of Canadians in January “How cold is it up there?”. The igloo is holding up I said.

He also had a great deal of knowledge about the product, its value to me, all based on their assumptions and perspective, and how I would be able to benefit from it. This was right after he asked me what I and my company do. He demonstrated his abilities to deliver his company’s talking points, demonstrate their product. And despite all he had going for him, he very much demonstrated that he could not think.

Like many sellers he did not go off script. He could talk about specific features, but could not connect them, especially in a way that would align with my view, not that of his marketing department.

First thing he did was assume that I was in pain, he did not ask what I had in place now that may deliver what his product did, he just assumed that I had the same pain the product was created for, and some their current customers had. Without having an understanding as to what I use or don’t use, and why; or where I was going and or why. He did the now famous “the world has changed” plot line, and highlighted that he was a social seller because he connected with me on LinkedIn before cold calling me.

What he lacked was contextual or situational thinking. As with any solid thinking, it starts with curiosity, he was not in the least curious about the company or what we are trying to do. He drudged out some “scary stats”, and then the requisite story about someone who fought those stats using his product, and landed a $750,000 deal, “wouldn’t that be great if you could do that?” I think he was a bit taken back when I said no, he almost went off script, but he recovered and continued his pitch.

He ignored some clear inputs that would have allowed him to alter his direction and actually get me involved. I had used a product like his in the past and had some specific questions about how they deal with very specific scenarios. The scenarios I described and questions I asked should have prompted him to abandon the high level “why this” talking points, and go for the more fertile “how for you” conversation. His idea of expertise was to talk to me as though I just landed on the planet.

It would be easy to blame the rep, but someone put him up to it. They built “pain seeking” robots, “anyone not in pain is a waste of time.” Which is sad, because their product is actually suited to companies looking to accelerate their success, but that takes positioning, aligning to business goals and objectives, and situational thinking. Too much effort there, let’s probe for pain. The most painful moment, and one where there was a complete void of thinking, it was the silence when I asked for an example of how they use the service.

Join thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.   

Join Now!


  1. Robert Lehrer

    I learn from much of your material, Tibor. But this is one of the best reminders to do what we’re supposed to do, that I’ve ever read.


    • Tibor Shanto

      Thank you Robert, pleased you find it helpful.


  2. tim braman


    I absolutely love your approach above. So many of my colleagues won’t answer the phone as it’s likely a sales person. I look forward to those opportunities to talk to sales people for a couple reasons
    1. My ongoing assessment of the ‘state of sales’ (not great)
    2. Update my statistic on reps that ‘stay on script’ vs. think and listen ratio (so bad right now, i won’t mention the number)
    3. Give a little coaching to the younger generation

    I’m amazed at how many of them still look at it as a ‘numbers game’ ignoring all the great sales advice and resorting to stale tactics and pithy phrases.

    • Tibor Shanto


      Thanks for the feedback.

      Interesting that you keep stats, I would be interested in knowing those.

      I was going to phone, but I don’t want to change the stats. :)


Leave a Comment

wordpress stat