By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® -The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Master Isolated Images at

0-spiral-staircase-with-targetOne of the major differences between top performers and average salespeople is patience. One of the most important aspects of patience is resisting the temptation (or invitation) to dive into generic product presentations when making calls. Taking this approach with executives is likely to result in being delegated to lower levels or having meetings that end before the allotted time is up. Few executives will suffer through product pitches (nor should they).

In stark contrast, inbound contacts from non-executives seek product information to supplement whatever they’ve already gathered from your website and other sources. Their objective is often to drag sellers into detailed discussions about offerings. Diving into product can be a bad approach in these situations because sellers:

  1. Have no idea of requirements that have already have been established.
  2. Are unaware if their offering is a good fit and may discuss capabilities that aren’t relevant to the prospect.
  3. Will not have established any value.
  4. Give up something buyers want (more detailed product information) that could have been used as a bargaining chip to gain access to higher levels.
  5. Haven’t uncovered any desired business outcomes that can provide context for discussing relevant capabilities.

When receiving inbound contacts from non-executives knowledgeable about offerings, a helpful question that can be used early in the conversation is: 

What is your organization hoping to accomplish with (the offering/product)?

If the contact can’t answer the question, sellers can ask who can provide the answer. If the contact can answer the question, sellers have the ability to ask questions about specific capabilities relevant to achieving business outcomes. If the buyer can’t answer some questions there is a reason to request access to higher levels.

Key Takeaway
Jumping into product discussions is a self-inflicted wound when calling at high levels. Getting dragged into product discussions by lower levels can result in poor entry points for new opportunities. In either case it’s analogous to sellers sharing their education and experience in an interview without knowing what job you’re applying for. 

A little patience can go a long way in qualifying new opportunities.