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The Problem the Prospect Brings You is Never the Real Problem


In our continuing series on the Sandler Rules, let’s talk about Sandler rule, “The problem the prospect brings you is never the real problem."

As you should know by now, at the beginning of the sales process, the prospect often does not trust you. They’re guarded, and it’s frequently due to their other interactions with salespeople. Your prospect may feel that all salespeople are “in it for themselves,” or slimy, or manipulative.

Because of that, they keep their cards close to the vest.

And that means that the first problem they tell you isn’t actually the real problem. It’s more of withholding information than an outright lie, but it still isn’t the full truth.

A traditional salesperson will go down that rabbit hole, and try to fix this problem, which often isn’t even that big of an issue.

Take this example.

A person walks into a car dealership, and they say they need a car. The traditional salesperson will say “I have a car with XYZ features,” without pausing to ask why they need a car. Because the salesperson doesn’t know why the prospect wants the car, they could be offering things that might inadvertently disqualify them from the opportunity.

In order to find out what the real problem is, you, as a salesperson, have to be skeptical about what they tell you and ask questions to get to the real truth.

When getting to the real truth, bonding, and rapport is essential. If the prospect doesn’t feel comfortable around you, simply put, they won’t tell you the problem.

Even after the bonding and rapport stage, you have to continue to make the prospect feel comfortable and nurture them into telling you the truth.

Only after they are comfortable will they tell you the real truth.

Afterward, when I know the real problem, I continue to ask questions and dig deeper. I want to find out if I can solve the problem (because sometimes I can’t) and be convinced that they want my product or service. I also want to know why they want me to help. Sometimes, you can get to the truth and find out that they really don’t want help.

Regardless, you’ve done your part, and you’ve discovered the prospect’s real problem.

If you learn anything through this blog, we hope it’s this: Be curiously skeptical about the problem the prospect first brings you, and ask questions in order to uncover the real issue.

Ken Seawell

Ken Seawell

Managing Partner Sandler Michigan - EAM Consulting Group