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Opinion: What is the key that unlocks the sale?

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Is there a one word answer to making more sales happen? Yes!

Probing? Listening?

Presenting? Talking? Assessing?

Pain? Objections?

Closing? Manipulating?

The key to selling is none of those, and it’s especially not manipulating.

The key that unlocks sales is harmonizing. But you’d never know that from most salespeople’s actions.

Selling is about understanding the other person and their needs. Their fears. Their desires. And their urgency to buy. Prospects and customers have different motives to buy, and it’s the salesperson’s job to uncover them – and harmonize with them.

A rule of sales: No two sales or sales presentations are alike.

They must be adapted to uncover the motives and objectives, understand the opportunities and barriers, meet the needs and desires, harmonize with the person and the personality, and satisfy or fit within the financial parameters of the buyer.

All my sales life I’ve been exposed to and frustrated by “systems of selling.” And all my sales life I’ve fought them as being hokey, outdated, bogus, nonrealistic and manipulative processes that salespeople learn, but never really feel comfortable using.

Not that systems are totally wrong – it’s more they don’t always fit the situation. And the salesperson mostly focuses on the execution of the system to make the sale, rather than focusing on and harmonizing with the prospect to make the sale.

No one system will work all the time, but specific elements of any system may be applicable. I’m not saying don’t learn systems; all sales knowledge is valuable. I am saying be yourself in the sale, not the system.

Another rule of sales: Prospects don’t always want to buy the way you have been taught to sell.

Here are some “more” clues:

• The more you believe in your company, your product and yourself, the more you will sell.

• The more value you provide to others, the more people will come to know and respect you, and buy from you.

• The more you follow up and follow through, the more sales you will make.  

• The more you study sales, the more you will know how to react to any sales situation.

• The more you harmonize with the customer’s situation and offer answers they can apply – answers they perceive as valuable – the more sales you will make.

Keep this in mind at all times. You are a person who sells, and the prospect or customer is expecting you to ask for the sale. Don’t disappoint them. But don’t fail to win the sale by earning it.

As a sales master, your job is to take the characteristics and needs of the prospect and blend them with your skills and understanding to determine the reasons the prospect is buying. Get to their motive.

This will motivate and inspire the prospect to act. Note that the root word of motivate is motive.

Harmony is understanding, not manipulating. It’s sensing the tone of the situation and comfort level of the prospect – giving the prospect enough confidence to buy. Harmony converts salesperson selling to prospect buying.

Even though I don’t believe in or subscribe to a sales system, I am still searching for the best way to make the sale. And what I have discovered along the way are elements, mostly personal (nonmanipulative), that when mastered will create an atmosphere where customers and prospects will be compelled to buy.

Here are three of them in an acronym that ties the introduction to the point: AHA! The three elements to master are attitude, humor and action. These elements, when mastered, are the surest and shortest sales formula to long-term success. And they have nothing to do with systems, manipulation or sales pressure. These words, elements and characteristics create harmony.

Harmonize baby.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Little Red Book of Selling” and 11 other titles, is president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on sales and customer service at He can be reached at


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