Sales Success: Where Do You Focus First?

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As a coach, I’m an advocate of always having a vision for every area of your life, whether it be marriage, career, or what you want to accomplish in the position you currently have. In my opinion, salespeople have some additional pressures, because their success is usually dependent on influencing others as opposed to working on tasks that are easily self-controlled. You could say that sales people have pressure to “close the deal” by the “close of business” which is no small task.

With so much emphasis on closing the deal, where does the salesperson spend most of his or her time, energy, and effort with a customer? A search for the best sales training would have you believe it’s anywhere but the beginning, as promotions abound for “selling with stories,” “driving to a close,” and “sales presentation training.” I’m sure there are useful insights delivered by each program, but what I believe is missing is how to take the very first step with the customer, which is the farthest point from winning the deal.

Instead of focusing on the end, I suggest the focus be on taking the first successful step with the customer. You’ll never have the opportunity to make a second first impression, and a first impression is made within the first 10 seconds. Studies show there are two questions a person will try to answer about you when they first meet you: (1) Can I trust you? and (2) Are you competent?

Maybe the best way to successfully close business is to focus on how to open business—the first conversation. I’m not referring to idle chit-chat or talking about your credentials. Forget about the weather or traffic, which are meaningless banter. I’m talking about forming a genuine connection based on finding out who you know in common or asking questions about your prospect’s background?

If you’re good with your opening, your customers will be able to answer “yes” to their two burning questions. When you earn trust and credibility, usually everything else that follows falls into place.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

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