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Howard LitwakFeb 21, 20235 min read

How to Improve Sales Performance: Adopt a Build-a-Sale Mentality

Great marketing brings in leads, but in order to grow your business, you also need a great sales process. 

At SIX, we're more than a marketing agency. We believe in helping you grow holistically, and that's why we offer sales training, consulting, and development services

Improving sales performance is easier said than done, because it entails a shift in your mindset. In this article, you'll learn how to adopt a build-a-sale mentality that helps you connect with your prospects and increase your sales. 


Think "Build a Sale" (not "Make a Sale") for better results

Better thinking leads to better actions. For anybody who wants better results, particularly better sales results, better and different actions are a prerequisite.

A decade ago, I learned a principle which would lead to a revolution of better sales thinking and sales actions for me. I've been working towards a mastery of it ever since and I teach it to all of my clients.

Think about what "sales" is. The following is one definition:

Sales, in a broad sense, is turning suspects into prospects and prospects into clients or customers. The end result: a sale, revenue for the company, and hopefully a commission.

Does this describe "making" a sale? To many business owners and professional sellers, it does.

But try looking at that definition in this light: it describes building a case for action. Not for making a sale. It describes the process of building a business case for your prospect to do business with you.

The principle behind improving sales performance

As sellers, we should be thinking about building a sale, not making a sale. Build a case for your probable purchaser to do business with you and you will literally build your sale. Wrap this principle around your sales strategy, and you will have your own sales revolution. 

Building a sale is achieved through flawless execution of your sales process, the end point of which is a new client or customer.


buildings representing a build-a-sale mentality to improve sales performance

5 ways to improve sales performance

Here are 5 tips that will help you to effectively build a case for action and the sale. While reading them, don’t think, “I know that,” but instead ask yourself, “How good am I at doing that?” 

  • Have a conversation with your prospect
  • Follow your probably purchaser's lead instead of putting them into your model
  • Make sure you're talking to prospects
  • Build rapport
  • Don't stay horizontal with your questions

#1 - Have a conversation with your prospect

Don't go into a sales call with the intention of selling your product or service. This may seem counter intuitive, but have zero expectations. Think of your sales call as talking to a friend. You just want to explore whether or not there is a good fit.

What you say after "hello," of course, should be well thought out and prepared. That is defined in your sales process. But make sure to have a dialogue responding to what your prospect says, like a conversation with a friend. And remember, the conversation is about what the client needs and not your need as a seller to meet your quota. This is foundational to "building a sale."

What are you thinking when you meet a probable purchaser?


#2 - Follow your probable purchaser's lead instead of putting them into your model

Be on their agenda, not yours. "Pitching" is being on your agenda. Your focus should always be on your probable purchaser — that is the only way to earn their business. During your discovery call, be in the moment and watch for cues they might have a challenge that needs to be solved.

Is your focus always on your prospect? Or are you "me" focused?


#3 - Make sure you're talking to prospects

A prospect is someone who meets the following criteria:

  • Has a want or a need
  • Can make a "yes" decision
  • Can afford what you are offering

If the person you're talking with doesn't meet these criteria, your chance of getting a signed agreement is zero.

The challenge is, you don't necessarily know this when you have a first conversation. Your job is to understand what their objectives are, what issues the person is dealing with, and what obstacles are standing in the way. Deeper questioning should be around what they've tried in the past and how the issues are impacting them. 

If they meet the three criteria above and you can help them solve their problem, you will be close to earing a new client — provided that they like and trust you, of course.

Do you ever try to "close" a sale with a probable purchaser who doesn't meet the definition of a prospect and then wonder why the deal doesn't happen?


#4 - Build rapport

Finding the answers to the above involves asking questions and getting real answers. Before you start launching into asking questions, ask yourself the following: “Is there enough rapport built to get the real answers you need?”

Without rapport, you don’t have the foundation to build a sale. Without rapport, the person you're talking with is unlikely to give you the real answers you can do something with. No rapport, no trust. No trust, little or no information to use as material to build your sale.

Thus, building and keeping rapport needs to be a major focus in your sales process. Running red lights and proceeding without it will derail all of your efforts.

What do you do to ensure you have the necessary degree of rapport with your prospects to proceed in your sales process? What can you do differently? 


#5 - Don’t stay horizontal with your questions

You need to go vertical with questions. This means getting to implications. Dig deeper than just the initial answers you get. Horizontal questioning just scratches the surface.

Think of their answer in terms of "So what?" Asking some variation of this as a follow up (such as "What does that mean in terms your ability to ___?") hits your prospect in the gut because it eventually gets to their emotions.

Buying is an emotional process. This depth of questioning, when wielded by an expert salesperson, is what moves people to action because it emotionalizes the logical process of selling.

Do you have a model for asking powerful questions and collecting data? The most effective sellers do.


Improve sales performance by using a different mindset

Thinking "build a sale" (as opposed to "make a sale") will help you operate differently and improve your sales performance, because your thoughts lead to your actions. And your actions lead to your results. It's just the way the world works. You see, it all starts with your attitude or thoughts about what "sales" means. Better thinking. More sales. Simple.

Are you ready to change your mindset and improve your sales performance? Schedule a short call with me or learn more about our sales training, consulting, and development services


Howard Litwak

VP of Consulting & Certified Business Coach | SIX Marketing