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Rick, a 10-year sales veteran, had major issues creating rapport during his sales calls. 

He felt he was properly executing the first two steps of the Sandler Selling System, establishing strong communication and setting clear expectations. Still, he reported that his prospects remained “aloof” and “detached.”

When we quizzed him about the strategy he employed to strengthen the relationship with his prospects, he clearly and accurately explained everything he had been trained in: the science of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), primary sensory dominance, and all the elements of a strong up-front contract. Yet something still wasn’t clicking for him. He wanted to know: What was he missing? 

The mystery was soon resolved. During a coaching session role-play exercise, we determined that Rick inadvertently used tonal qualities that made his prospects feel very “Not-OK.”

Rick’s vocal tones were sharp and dominating when he made his points. He was coming across as aggressive, which was shutting down his prospects. We advised him to lower his tonality one half-octave below his normal speaking voice . . . and act a little “Not-OK” at the beginning of his sales call.

He did. The results were extraordinary. As Rick struggled (on purpose) in front of his prospects, using a vocal delivery half an octave lower than his natural speaking voice, people opened up. They began to rescue him—instead of building their defenses and fighting him.

The role-playing helped us determine he was using the skills taught in his Sandler Training classes literally—as they were laid out on the page—without implementing
the subtle nuances necessary to soften his approach. Coaching helped Rick determine the delicate balance he needed to establish to be more successful. Knowing the right answers was not enough.

There are two big takeaways here. First, make sure your vocal tonality isn’t turning people off. And second, take advantage of coaching to personalize what you’ve learned. Many salespeople apply Sandler strategies and tactics “right out of the box” without personalizing them to the specific selling situation.



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