Sales is, at its most basic level, a relatively simple process.  I recall one of my clients showing me the flow-chart of his sales process.  Twenty six steps.  That level of detail may be appropriate for that specific situation, but it is an overkill when we are talking about the application for a typical professional salesperson.

The job of the salesperson is much like playing golf.  In a four-hour round of golf, the club hitting the ball only takes about three minutes.  Everything else is prelude or postlude.  The essence of the game is, of course, to hit the ball correctly.

The same thing is true of sales.  The essence is to interact with the customer effectively.  Everything else is prelude or postlude.  The best golfers execute the essentials with excellence. They focus on the three minutes.  The best salespeople execute the essentials with excellence. They focus on the quantity and quality of their interactions with their customers.

So, regardless of the intricacies of the customer, the product and the setting, the job of the salesperson can be reduced to these basic elements:

  • Engage with the right people.
  • Make them feel comfortable with you.
  • Find out what they want.
  • Show them how what you have provides them what they want.
  • Gain agreement on the next step.
  • Insure that they are satisfied, and leverage that satisfaction to other opportunities.

Today we will examine the first element. Look for more in future blog posts.

1.  Engage with the right people.

You can be the most trained, thoroughly equipped salesperson, with the best questions, the most powerful presentations and the gift of a good sense of humor.  However, if you waste all this on the wrong people, you’ll never be successful.

Engaging with the right people is an absolute essential.  However, it is far more difficult today than ever before.  And it is growing more difficult, as more of your customers find themselves in overstressed situations where they have too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. Which puts meeting with you at the bottom of their ‘to do’ list.

In order to be successful at this, you must identify all the key people, prioritize them, and then develop a series of practices that will allow you to regularly gain an audience with them.  No small task.  In fact, you’ll need to work at this, constantly improving, for the rest of your career. It’s that big of a challenge.

A good series of questions is your major tool to help you do this.  It is a series of good questions that provide you the information on who are the important people to see.  It’s a series of questions that allow you to collect and then prioritize the potential in every opportunity.  It’s a series of questions, asked about the customer, that provide you the information to sculpt your approach. And, it’s a series of good questions that allow you to turn the first encounter into a full scale engagement.


Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave’s training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit to check out a seminar near you.


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