Sample Pages of All-Star Selling


The processes and skills involved in professional selling have developed considerably over the last few hundred years. There has been an evolution progressing from snake oil pitchman to feature/benefits to counselor selling. Salespeople have been perceived as everything from ethically low, borderline con men, “a pushy salesman,” to admirable, naturally endowed persuaders as “he can sell screen doors to submarine captains.”

I once heard the first great, modern innovator of professional selling, J. Douglas Edwards, say that salespeople and confidence or con men both use the same skills. The difference is a salesperson leaves you with something of value, usually more worthwhile than your payment, while a con man leaves you with a worthless pile of rubbish.

A good salesperson wants to add value to his customer or client. Like any professional, she has the intention of helping people better their lives in some fashion. In the process, the salesperson needs to be remunerated, so she can continue to help others as well as benefit herself. There is nothing wrong with that, is there?

The more value a salesperson creates for others, the more money she ought to earn. This is the nature of the free market. It is my intention that this book helps you increase your ability to provide value for others, which, in turn, will increase your income.

Below, I have set forth seven major rules for the profession of selling. If you simply master these seven, you will have gone a long way to becoming a master salesperson.

Rule #1—Above All, Do No Harm

A professional salesperson is ethical above all. This means she will not sell her products or services to someone unless they need or want it. If your product or service is worthwhile, there is no lack of potential customers for it. So find someone who can use what you have, rather than push somebody who has no need into buying it.

A professional will do everything possible to persuade someone who needs or wants her product or service, but if your prospect neither needs nor wants what you have to offer, walk away. Don’t sell anything to anybody. In other words, if what your prospect needs or wants is different from what you are selling, admit it and let your prospect find someone else who can satisfy his needs.

Rule #2—There Are Only Two Buying Motives

People make purchases for these two reasons, and only these two reasons. They want to gain something they believe is valuable that your product or service will provide, or they want to avoid pain or loss that they might otherwise experience.

What you are selling must either help them gain what they want or protect them from experiencing the pain they want to avoid. Realize this simple but basic truth, and your process will become much more efficient and effective.

Rule #3—Decisions Are Made Emotionally and Justified Rationally

All humans have a brain with two sections or hemispheres: right and left. The right brain deals with emotions while the left brain deals with logic. The right hemisphere is associative; the left  is linear.

So when I say the word rose to you, the right brain may bring to your mind the scent of a rose, or you may hear the word nose because it rhymes with rose. Your left brain will give you a picture of a rose.

Virtually, every decision is based on an emotional right brain desire that expects to be fulfilled. That decision is passed to the rational left brain for approval.

Rule #4—Find Out What the Significance Is of This Purchase

The essence of selling is to first find out exactly what the person wants that will make him happy if he obtains it. Another way of looking at this is your prospect’s underlying standard or principal reason for being happy with his new purchase. We call this his core motivation. It usually requires some probing to find out exactly what it is for every individual.

For example, a prospect may tell his broker he wants an investment that will give him 10 percent return, but deeper probing will reveal the prospect really wants a safe, secure amount that will allow him to retire without worrying about loss.

Rule #5—Relate to Your Prospect’s Core Motivation

Once you know what your prospect really wants or expects to gain from his purchase or hopes to avoid, you then relate to him how your product or service will give him what he wants. This is true whether he’s buying lightbulbs or life insurance.

Once you understand his individual motives of more gain or less pain, you need to focus on either one, not both. You relate how what you are selling will provide what the person hopes to specifically gain or will help avoid a future pain.

Rule #6—Repeat Your Value

Like the title of Jacqueline Susann’s novel, “Once Is Not Enough,” people cannot easily focus on one thing, especially today. There are too many distractions, too much information, too many concerns.

Do not be afraid to repeat what makes your product or service the right choice to meet your prospect’s specific gain or pain motivation. It’s also a good idea to find different words to relay the same thoughts and feelings. This way, you avoid appearing repetitious.

Rule #7—Empathize with Your Prospect

In order to fully understand what your prospect wants as well as what he doesn’t want or fears, you need to understand him intellectually as well as relate to him emotionally. This is empathy.

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is feeling what the other person feels; empathy is understanding how the other person feels but not feeling that way yourself.

Empathy Is the Key to Unlock Your Prospect’s Emotions

The basis of this book is my theory of communication, which is this:

Communication is the sum of everything that is transmitted minus that which is not received, times the amount of commonality of the participants.

My theory may be expressed mathematically as this:

C = Σ (T-NR)c

C—communication; Σ—sum; T—transmitted; NR—not received; c—commonality

The critical term here is commonality. The more things you have in common with the other person, the better your communication.

When I speak to you, I express thoughts and feelings in words, tones, volume, and attitudes. In addition, I appear a certain way: I exhibit facial expressions and body language and wear specific clothing of which you may be aware. 

You may also be conscious of my scent or the aftershave lotion I am wearing. These are all being transmitted to you, but you may be so intent on my words and tones that everything else is not received by you. Or you may be so attentive to my appearance that you pay no attention to my words. Therefore, you are receiving only the totality of what I am transmitting minus that which is not received by you.

Further, our communication depends on our mutual understanding and agreement of the meanings of our language, our commonality. For example, when I say the word blue, you may imagine that I am referring to sky blue, when in reality, I am thinking of navy blue.

All of these factors complicate even the simplest communication. Is it any wonder there is so much misunderstanding and disagreement in the world?

By using empathy, which is the ability to participate in another person’s feelings or ideas, you can increase your level of commonality. This allows you to improve your communication.

Some readers may be put off by the word empathy as an important ingredient in the sales process. They may be confusing it with sympathy, which is not part of our process. I will clarify the difference a little later.

Levels of Communication

Another key ingredient to our subject of all-star selling is the understanding that there are five distinct levels of communication. As you review them below, think about at which level you want to be able to communicate with your prospect.

Level 1. Cliché. This is the kind of conversation you generally have with strangers or people you barely know. It’s the elevator talk, like “Nice weather” or “Think the sun will come out?” It’s basically filler to avoid silence.

Level 2. Associate. This is chatter that you have with people with whom you work or neighbors that you don’t know well. It tends to be factual. “I hear Charlie got promoted,” or “We’re going to be very busy this week.” It is one rank above cliché and still very impersonal.

Level 3. Intellectual. This is the sort of discussion you have with people you know. Here is where you discuss ideas, opinions, and even judgments. “We need a candidate who will unite both parties,” or “That was a very good movie,” or “Are you familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?” This plane of conversation is personal and is conducted with people who have some degree of trust with each other.

Level 4. Emotional. This is the nature of more private talk that people have with good friends. They share their feelings with each other, like “I feel annoyed when you keep interrupting me,” or “I really feel good when you take the time to explain to me what you’re doing.” This type of dialogue is very personal and based on trust that the other person will still like you, regardless of your comments.

Level 5. Peak. This is the rare echelon of intimate conversation that only kindred spirits attain. These are people who share similar emotions of equal intensity. “I feel so happy when we listen to Beethoven together,” or “It’s wonderful that we both feel the same way about adopting children.”

Lovers, scientists, and artists sometimes attain this height of close exchange for brief periods.

By now, you have hopefully realized two things:

1. Most salespeople never get beyond level 3, intellectual.

2. The ideal level to be at is level 4, emotional.

This book is my attempt to make the world a better place by assisting you to use empathy to enhance your communications. In the process, you will obtain what you want more often and make your life easier and more prosperous.