PO Box 37
Arlington, MA 02476



How I (almost) Lost My First Sale

It’s pouring rain on my first day of sales, May 13, 2002 in Watertown, MA and as I open my bidders case to pull out an estimate form I feel a sharp pain in my side where Nathan, my sales trainer, jabs me hard with his elbow.

Nathan wants me to shut up.

Because I’m on the verge of talking us out of our very first sale.

I didn’t hear our prospect agree to our verbal estimate

Even though I was standing right there

So I offer to write an estimate.


Nathan’s elbow remains the best sales training tool my side has ever encountered.

The lesson seems obvious in retrospect:

No need to write an estimate if she’s already signed up for the service.

Nathan explains that once she has agreed to the service,

The act of writing an estimate actually encourages her to rethink her decision.

Sales is hard enough without moving the process backwards.

So you can write up a job order.

You can write up the invoice.

Just don’t offer an estimate to someone who’s already sold.

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because so many people focus so intently on

Blurting out their carefully rehearsed Elevator Pitch

That they miss the not so subtle signs

That their Elevator Pitch has already done it’s job.

And, there’s no better way to scare off a legitimate prospect than by

Launching into your rehearsed speech

When they express real interest in what you’re offering.

Once your prospect asks for more information,

Ditch you Elevator Pitch in favor of these conversation starters:

1. Ask them a clarifying question (“Is there a particular employee you’re concerned about?”)

2. Share a client success story (“That reminds me of a recent client where we…”)

3. Set up a meeting (“Would you like to set up a time where we can talk about this in more detail?”)

What’s your best story about a sale that almost got away?

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