This is number eight in a series of blog posts on my 15 most effective sales tactics.

In my last blog post, I promised to reveal how you can avoid the #1 mistake salespeople make.

When you avoid this mistake, you can win a sale in as little as seven seconds.

Now, before you blow me off saying that nobody buys anything after only seven seconds, let me explain.

To make a BIG sale, you first have to make a series of smaller sales; your first sale is to pique a decision maker’s curiosity enough that they agree to set aside time on their calendar to learn more.

Unfortunately, while trying to do this, most salespeople make the #1 mistake in sales – using nouns to describe what they sell.

Huh? How do I get people to buy something if I can’t tell people what I sell?

The short answer is to use verbs that describe the outcome (aka value) of being your customer, instead of nouns that describe your product or service.

Do this correctly and the prospect asks, “How do you do that?”

Here are a few examples:

  • We help CFOs eliminate inventory write-downs
  • We help trucking companies become the preferred supplier
  • We help warehouse managers eliminate equipment incompatibility

I once heard someone describe the process as building a bridge. The way bridges were built in the old days was using a bow and arrow with some thread tied to the end of the arrow.

Once the arrow was shot across the valley, a person on the other side of the valley would retrieve the arrow and pull on the thread that was attached to it. At the end of the thread, there was some string.

The person would then pull on the string and at the end of the string, there was some rope. That rope was strong enough to move materials back and forth and you could then build a bridge, eventually meeting in the middle.

Unfortunately, a rope strong enough to build a bridge is too heavy to throw all the way across the valley.

The same is true with sales. The thread is the value of being our customer and the rope is the product or service you sell.

Unfortunately, most salespeople start with nouns (rope) to describe the product or service they sell – at which point the prospect often says something like, “Oh, we already use X vendor for that.” At this point, the conversation is over because you failed to build a bridge between you and the prospect.

In the examples I shared above, using verbs (thread), the prospect does not have enough information to say that so they pull on the thread by asking, “How do you do that?”

When they say this, DON’T TELL THEM!

Instead, tell them you would like to do a little research first and ask for a 30 minute call later this week and ask “when would be the best time for that call and who should be the second person from their company on the call?”

The reason you want another person from that company on the call is that if it’s only you and one person on the initial call, what do you think happens as soon as they get off their call with you?

They immediately move on to the next thing on their list and you lose sales momentum.

When you have a second person from that company on the call, what typically happens when the call ends is the two of them talk about your idea(s) together, lessening the chance that either will forget or get distracted.

This increases your odds of getting a second and even third meeting. And when you’re the first salesperson on the scene, you use your time on the call to help a decision maker who is unhappy with the status quo define their problem and help them design the solution; in doing so, you are up to 10 times more likely to close the deal.

If they’re not willing to put a second person on a 20 or 30-minute call, I suggest you consider moving on to your next prospect because without a second person on the call, you’ll be pushing rope instead of having them pull on thread – and we all know how well that works.

So the next time you leave a voicemail or someone asks you what to do, resist the urge to throw rope (nouns) across the valley between you. Instead, tie some thread to an arrow that is a verb-based value proposition (outcome) of being your customer and fire that across the valley.

The best part? It takes seven seconds or less.

In my next blog post, I’ll share how to minimize the chances of a decision maker calling their current vendor to tell them of the ideas you shared on your 20-30 minute call.

P.S.  My favorite verbs for a seven second sale are ones like “reduce,” “minimize,” or eliminate.” In my experience, verbs that call attention to the negative are ten times more effective at getting people to change than positive verbs like “grow,” “improve,” or “maximize.”