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Chartwell Seventeen Advisory Group Inc. | New York, NY

Sandler Rule: The best presentation you’ll ever give is one your prospect will never see. 

Now there’s a selling rule that counters all traditional sales philosophies; and what does it even mean?  Let’s decipher it.

Traditional sales training says present, present, present and close, close, close – convince your prospect with a compelling presentation, show him enough value, and he will surely buy.  When I first got into sales I really sweated the presentations.  I practiced them over and over; used different visual props and brochures; tried a variety of persuasive arguments; and created notebooks full of evidence favoring my product and my company.  Ultimately it became apparent that no matter how exciting or compelling my presentation was, my close rate was mostly dependent on what happened before the presentation, not during it.

Before you give a presentation or proposal, consider the following:

Have you thoroughly flushed out your prospect’s pain?  People don’t buy features and benefits; they buy solutions to problems.  Your presentation should not be a long-winded discussion of all the great things your product does.  (Consider the cell phone that is a camera, plays video games, connects to the internet, sends e-mail, and keeps your calendar.  Are you impressed?  Probably not.)  The presentation should specifically address how your product will eliminate the pains and problems your prospect is experiencing.  If you do a good job of diagnosing your prospect’s true pain and uncovering his true buying motive, then he is very likely to believe you are part of the solution before you present anything.  Think like a doctor here – prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

Have you and your prospect agreed on a budget?  Is he willing and able to pay your price?  The worst time to tell somebody the price is at the end of the presentation.  No matter how exciting you are, there’s only one thing that will be on your prospect’s mind while you are presenting: HOW MUCH IS IT?  Also, if the first time a prospect knows the price is at the end of the presentation, his reaction is almost guaranteed to be, “That’s more than we were expecting, we’ll need some time to think this over.”

Have you discussed your prospect’s decision making process with him?  If not then you have no basis for expecting a decision and you are setting the stage for a think-it-over.  In fact, it’s very likely that after your best presentation, right when you’re hoping for an order and a check, that previously enthusiastic and gung-ho prospect will say, “This looks wonderful, all I need to do is take this to my wife/husband/CFO/committee and then I’ll call you, probably within a week.”  Make sure you know the who/what/when/where/why/how of your prospect’s decision making process and get a firm agreement as to when you will get a decision.  After the presentation is the wrong time to ask about when you can expect a decision.

Once you have discussed pain, budget, and decision with your prospect, ask one more question: “Mr. Prospect, what do you need to see or hear to feel comfortable moving forward?”  This is where your prospect will tell you exactly how to sell him.  Whatever he says here, that’s what you present, no canned presentations, just show him what he wants to see.

If you have properly diagnosed your prospect’s situation; uncovered pain and true buying motives; discussed a price that he is willing and able to pay; and agreed that a YES/NO decision will be made – then most of the presenting is done.  All that’s left is to show how your product will eliminate your prospect’s problems.  If you spend more time uncovering PAIN, BUDGET and DECISION, then you’ll spend much less time presenting and overcoming objections.  That’s why David Sandler said, “The best presentation you’ll ever give, is one your prospect will never see.”


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