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Will the “Real Salesperson” Stand Up?

By James McEntire


As a kid, I remember watching a TV show called “What’s My Line?” with my parents. The point of the show was to have four people try to determine which of the three contestants was a test pilot, an astronaut, a mountain climber, or in some other unusual profession. When they were finished asking questions and voting on who the actual person was, they would ask the imposters to stay seated and the real person in that profession to stand up.

My oldest daughter is getting married, so my wife Gail and I went to buy a suit for me at the mall. The young man who waited on us asked my sizes and started showing us suits. He smiled and was friendly, yet asked no questions about our needs. Not finding what we liked, we left.

We drove down the street to a men’s clothing store. As we entered, Louis came up and introduced himself, asked our names, and what we were seeking. He inquired if there was a special occasion for the purchase of the suit, when we would need it by, and the colors we were considering. He immediately stated that if we decided to buy a suit today, it would be finished with any alterations in 10 days, in time for the wedding.

Louis measured me for the jacket, pants, and shirt. He even brought over a pair of black shoes for me to try on with the pants and jacket. While we were debating about the purchase, Louis asked about the color of my wife’s dress for the wedding. Louis then picked out a shirt and tie for me to complement my wife’s dress, made a knot in the tie, placed it against the shirt, and put both under the jacket. Wow. It looked great and went well with my wife’s dress.

I could see Louis was using the consultative selling process. Louis did not sell us. We closed the sale ourselves. We did not want to travel to another men’s store to look at or try on clothes when he took care of all of our needs.

The sales lesson is here for you:

§ Louis built a friendly rapport in the first minute of our meeting.

§ By asking questions, he quickly determined why we were there, what we were looking for, the time frame for the purchase, and the outcome we wanted from our investment. Louis knew what was motivating us to buy.

§ He impressed us with his knowledge of clothing, style, the presentation of his product, and filling our needs. He wowed us.

§ The price was not the determining factor in the sale.

Louis is the “real salesperson” who stood up; the other salesperson was the imposter. What about your salespeople? Are they real salespeople? Or, are they just acting and are really imposters? Whose fault is that?

If your salespeople do not stand up, then you as the boss need to help them. You need to help them study what motivates people to buy and brainstorm how to wow your clients. As the boss, it is your job to help them become their best to be real salespeople. You need to step up and train them or lose customers to people like Louis.


James McEntire is a business and sales coach. Contact him at (315) 225-3536 or email:




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