How Those Six Steps Changed My Life

BEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP. I open one eye. The green numbers of my clock radio shout 3:00 a.m. “This sucks!” I think as I struggle to free one arm from the warmth of the covers and slap the snooze button. “Seven more minutes of blissful sleep, and then I’ll get up.” BEEEEP, BEEEEP, BEEEEEP, BEEEEEEP. 3:07 a.m. “No … just one more snooze.” Then reality hits … “I have to get up. I can’t be late. I need this job.  I need the money!” I can hear my wife’s voice in my head: “We have bills to pay!”

For the past three months I have been waking up every morning at this godforsaken hour and crawling into my car to deliver the Wall Street Journal to a bunch of windbags who make more in one hour than I do in a week. After rolling, rubber-banding, and tossing 163 papers onto manicured lawns, I head back to our apartment. When I get back home at about 7:30, I am on kid duty because my wife Kelly is off to teach high school in southeast San Diego.

I plop my three-year old daughter Alicia down in front of the TV while I shave, shower, and get dressed. Then I drag my sorry butt out of the house to drop her off at my in-laws’ before heading off to my day job: G.A. Bartick, Mortgage Broker. Selling mortgages is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s a 100% commission job, and I haven’t closed a deal in over six weeks. I’m going broke being a broker. That’s why I’m delivering papers at three in the frickin’ morning for a hundred bucks a week. Kelly’s teacher salary barely pays the rent.

For a while I had a nice job working for Nordstrom as a ladies’ shoe salesman, but I wasn’t that good at it. So I did what many salespeople do that aren’t that good at sales—I went into management.
I spent over eight years learning Nordstrom’s secrets about how customer service leads to great sales.

Nordstrom is known as a great customer service organization, but don’t kid yourself. It’s a sales organization that uses fantastic customer service to generate over $8 billion in revenue annually. Nordstrom was a great training ground, but I had my eyes on bigger fish. I still believed I could make it big in the field of sales.

First I thought I could become rich selling real estate, so I studied, got my license, and got a job with Jelley Real Estate in Del Mar, California. “This is going to be great!” I thought. “I’m going to learn everything there is to know about the real estate market and people will buy from me!” Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way.

I was sitting at my desk on the last day of the month (which was also the last day of the pay period). My desk phone rang. It was my sales manager asking me to stop by his office at the end of the day. At 5:00 p.m., as I sat in his posh office, he told me he loved my attitude, my work ethic, and my product knowledge, but he’d been looking at the sales reports and I had only sold one house in the past six months. And then he said as he looked toward the door, “G.A., I’m sorry, it’s just not working out.”

So I soothed my bruised ego, and with my wife pushing me out the door, I set out to find another sales job. In about three weeks I got a job selling eyewear. I thought, “This is going to be fantastic! I’ll learn everything there is to know about eyewear, and opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists will buy from me.” Eight months into this gig the call came from my sales manager. “The call” always came on the last day of the pay period, and by now I knew all too well what to expect. My managers all said the same thing:

“I love your attitude.  love your work ethic. But I have been looking at the sales reports. I’m sorry, G.A., it’s just not working out.”

That was 1996. Having a wife and a young child with another child on the way, I had few options and even fewer sales skills. I was pounding the pavement every day and getting my butt kicked because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was really just winging it when it came to sales. I was selling on attitude, personality, and desire, without much to show for it. I was hunting without a bullet in the chamber and just shooting blanks. My gift of gab (yes those are my initials) was no longer enough to help me reach the lofty personal and financial goals I had set for myself. Something had to give. We couldn’t survive much longer on credit cards, and living in San Diego on Mrs. Bartick’s teacher’s pay was not going to cut it. That’s when I got the lucky phone call. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

On the other end of the line was Michael St. Lawrence, founder and President of a new sales consulting company named OutSell. Michael had just written the best-selling sales book If You’re Not Out Selling, You’re Being Outsold, and his fledgling company was taking off. Michael was a good friend of my brother Paul (the other author of this book), and he was calling because he was looking to hire consultants with sales skills, success, and swagger. He knew about my desperate situation so there was no use in stretching the truth. I told him that I could certainly satisfy his swagger requirement but wasn’t so sure about the skills or success. After all, the sad truth was that I had failed in four prior sales jobs.

To my relief, Michael told me not to be too concerned about the lack of sales skills; he could teach me that part. In fact, he told me he knew my sales skills sucked and he was calling me because he was in a bit of a bind himself. He had just sold a huge training deal, but he didn’t have the staff to deliver it. After a brief conversation on the phone and a follow-up face-to-face interview, he invited me to try out for OutSell. So I went to Marshalls department store and bought myself a new suit—on credit, of course—and gave it a shot.

I was one of 30 people trying out for 10 spots. There were professional speakers, facilitators, and sales professionals with impressive resumes and fancy degrees. I was way out of my league and was afraid of being embarrassed. We started on a Monday, and for the next three days Michael led us through a sales boot camp. On Thursday I arrived early to work on a homework assignment we had gotten the night before. Michael was in his office, and he called me in “to have a little chat.”

As I walked in to his office, I couldn’t help thinking: “Here we go again: the death march.” I knew the conversation with Michael would end with the words “I’m sorry, G.A., it’s just not working out.”

I really can’t explain what happened next. Maybe it was because Michael was my brother’s best friend or because I had known him from the day I was born, but somehow Michael saw the inner sales professional in me and told me that I had made the team—as long as I was willing to put in the hours to learn the sales skills I sorely lacked. Michael sat me down and explained to me that there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes, and most important, I had to learn the six basic steps to every sale.  I shook his hand enthusiastically, and I’ve been a successful salesman ever since. As it turned out, those six steps changed my life.

Why We Wrote This Book

We believe this is the book sales people have been waiting for . . .

Silver Bullet Selling is the definitive book that enables sales people to execute the unique Silver Bullet consultative sales process on every sales call.  After 11 years of teaching the Silver Bullet process to more than 250,000 sales people around the world, and culling through 30,000 pages of notes (that’s 11 filing cabinets full!) from over 6,000 interviews with top performers, we have earned the right to write this book and support it with a seminar series.

Why this book right now?  There are already several brilliant books that describe the consultative sales process in detail, including Mack Hanan’s 1970’s classic, Consultative Selling, and Neil Rackham’s best seller Spin Selling.  While these books are long on theory, they come up short on application and execution.  In other words, after reading one of these books you will definitely understand what consultative selling is, but you’ll have no idea how to implement it on your very next sales call.

That’s where Bullet Selling comes in. The magic of sales is in the execution, and that’s why Bullet Selling is so much more than just a regurgitation of consultative sales theory. Bullet Selling is the first book to take consultative selling theory and show how to apply it on every client or prospect interaction. Think of this book as a step-by-step implementation guide that will put the Bullet Sales process to work for sales professionals.  To accomplish this Silver Bullet Selling is chockfull of true stories, examples, templates and exercises that enable you to execute the Silver Bullet process on your very next customer interaction.  In addition, Bullet Selling includes exclusive upgrades to the consultative sales process that makes it even more effective.

Bullet Selling is for the entire universe of sales professionals, no matter what they’re selling. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone or imply that every sales position requires the same skills, because they don’t.  However, no matter what the business, it all begins with an interaction between a sales professional and the customer, and becoming an expert at implementing the Bullet Sales process will enable you to achieve the success that motivated you to go into sales in the first place!

Bullet Selling is a book that gets tattered and dog-eared because sales people find it indispensable on sales calls.  Bullet Selling includes checklists, examples, worksheets, practice exercises, templates and $500 tips that you can use on your very next sales call.  It is also integrated with our website where you can go to find templates, newsletters, success stories, updates, products and join the Silver Bullet Community. Bullet Selling is for you if you want to:

  • Make more sales. We know the techniques in Bullet Selling work because they are the same methods we successfully implement with our clients every day.  It is not unusual for workshop participants to improve their sales more than 30% and some even double and triple their performance!  We would expect the same significant results from readers who apply these techniques.   By increasing your sales, you will make more money, earn more recognition and win more sales awards.
  • Deliver a world-class buying experience. Bullet Selling will guide you through the entire sales process from the initial prospecting call through closing the sale, asking for referrals and follow up.  You will learn how to:

Pre-call plan

  • Use preliminary pleasantries, an Agenda Statement and Credibility Statement to help build rapport
  • Ask the right targeted questions that will help you better understand your customers’ unique situation and needs
  • Create a ‘selling gap’
  • Deliver a customized and tailored solution that satisfy your customers’ situation and needs
  • Sell to both the customers emotional and logical needs
  • Address concerns effectively in a non-confrontational manner
  • Vaccinate your prospects and clients against the competition
  • Effectively differentiate your products and services from the competition
  • Ask for the order and close the sale
  • Ask for referrals
  • Follow up after the sale

Develop deeper, more loyal relationships with your customers

  • The Bullet Sales process properly executed develops trust which in turn creates “sticky” customer relationships.  Customer retention allows you to develop their accounts vertically and horizontally.

Live a take-charge, pro-active life

  • Bullet Selling is infused with the attitude that you can realize your vision and goals if you are willing to put in the effort and execute.  The book builds enthusiasm, energy, a positive outlook and confidence.

Have more fun

  • Bullet Selling is an enjoyable and quick read.  It is illustrated with dozens of great stories and punctuated with humor and “$500 Sales Tips.”
  • Bullet Selling is a page turner that focuses on the skills sales pros really need to succeed.  Like If You’re Not Out Selling, You’re Being Outsold, our previous bestseller, Bullet Selling is written in an in-your-face, conversational style.

So if you’re ready, fasten your safety belt, put your seat and tray table in their full upright and locked positions, and take aim at the competition by buying the book and learning how to put Silver Bullet Selling to work for you!

Based on 6,000 Interviews with Top Sales Professionals

Silver Bullet Selling is based on over 36,000 pages of notes from interviews, interactions and observations of more than 6,000 top-performing Sales Professionals and Managers . We also have thousands of pages of notes from interviews and observations of what some really poor Sales Professionals do too. That’s a lot of research.

Think of 11 filing cabinets stuffed full with dog-eared, tattered notes from Sales Professionals from dozens of industries including consumer durables, insurance, retail, banking, utilities, financial services, real estate and telecommunications. This research is the gold I mine to develop my ideas and opinions. In fact, these 36,000 pages are the evidence we used to build the Bullet Selling process.

The Bullet Selling process is consultative selling at its best. It refers to an interactive sales process that focuses on the buyer’s needs rather than the salesperson’s inventory. Bullet Selling requires you to work with the buyer toward a mutually beneficial solution, and it includes these six steps:

  • Step 1. Pre-Call Planning
  • Step 2. Building Rapport
  • Step 3. Discovery
  • Step 4: Tailored Solution
  • Step 5: Addressing Concerns
  • Step 6: Closing the Sale

The Bullet Selling process is not meant to be an inflexible process that standardizes every buyer interaction; it is intended to be used as a framework that provides a structure for every interaction. Each step of the Bullet Selling process builds on the previous step and is designed to help you build the relationship and close the sale.

The Bullet Selling process helps us succeed on purpose. This stuff really works. That’s why we’ve trained 10 of the Fortune 50 companies to use it every day. The process helps build the foundation for a solid relationship in a systematic and predictable way. We call it the Silver Bullet Selling process because it is the closest thing we know to a no-fail sales system. We know it works — we use it ourselves — and that’s why we guarantee it with all our consulting clients.