We have all heard prospects say that while the price was OK and the product was high quality, they placed the order with a competitor.

Why? The answer is the first thing salespeople must think about before they proceed on their careers.

Based on my experience and what I hear in my classes, I have concluded that many lost sales are not the result of low prices, better products or even better delivery. It is because other salespeople do better jobs selling customers on their ability to deliver what they want.

What most don't realize is how important it is to show the differences between you and the competition. All too often, salespeople losing jobs begin to criticize the company and the people who won the sale. That's the worst thing you can do. You hurt yourself and the impression you leave with buyers is not positive.

I have often said that sales will not occur unless there is trust between buyers and the sellers. How do you develop this trust? You develop it over time and by demonstrating that you are a person of your word. Your follow-up is critical to creating this trust. If you promise to do something, make a point of getting back to buyers as soon as possible.

Opportunities

Make sure you give yourself an opportunity to show your capabilities and knowledge about the products and services you sell. Remember that buyers don't know what help you can offer them in their jobs. Show them you can solve problems. Let buyers feel that they can depend on you to help them fix any difficulties that may occur.

Once you have done that, imagine your sales will soar and the confidence buyers have in you will keep many salespeople away from your customers.

While you are making presentations, make sure you believe in what you are saying and that your nonverbal gestures reflect that feeling. I have seen people who believe in what they're selling, but when pushed, they fold. These same people think they can fool buyers who will never detect their true feelings. They're wrong. Once you are found out, the sale is dead.

I have often said that the first impression takes about five to 10 seconds to make but it last forever. The way you look is very important. How you dress may be great for one group of customers but not appropriate for another group. You may call on engineers, architects or large mechanical contracting firms in the morning and spend the afternoon visiting sheet metal shops.

Dressing for these different people may require you to change to make them feel comfortable. As an example, I often took off a tie when calling on some customers to make them feel comfortable.

Listen to customers' needs and watch their nonverbal gestures. Be totally aware of everything that is going on around you during presentations. Salespeople are often not open to what the buyers are saying; they want to make their presentation. The way to making any sale is to talk only about half the time. That means you must ask questions and listen to the responses. Answers reveal ways to sell the customers.

Remember that open, honest communication is the only way you can build trust and future sales.