Partners in Performance Blog

Favourite Client Stories: How Jim’s Success Almost Got in His Way


Jim Bentley  (name changed) is a well respected, seasoned sales professional with solid expertise in the financial services industry. He has long standing clients, with whom he enjoys excellent relationships. He is one of the top sales producers for his company. In spite of his sales success, he almost missed out on solidifying one of his best client relationships.

Jim participated in the Intentional Selling program as part of a company wide initiative. Part of the training process includes identifying limiting assumptions that might unconsciously block sales success. Jim became aware of the following limiting beliefs:

  • Since he was already achieving sales success, he was open to a “refresh,” but he assumed he would not learn anything new.
  • He believed he already knew his clients and their needs, so honing questioning skills would yield little added value.
  • He believed his relationships with his clients, along with periodic product updates, golf treats, and lunches were enough to create new sales.

With a record of sales success and strong relationships, it was initially difficult for Jim to see a need to change anything in his selling process. Nevertheless, he listened and participated in the training program but without any clear intention to do anything differently. However by the end of the training, his curiosity was peaked and he made the decision to apply what he learned in his next client sales meeting.

Jim had the opportunity to meet a long standing client for lunch the day after he completed the Intentional Selling™ workshop. Afterwards, he called me (and his VP) to report on what happened:

After friendly rapport building and catching up, he quickly shifted the focus of the lunch meeting. During the Intentional Selling training session, he learned the importance of setting context for sales success in meetings and presentations using a structured approach. The ‘Engage’ structure helped him set the stage for strategic questioning by stating the purpose, plan, pay off and expectations for the meeting. He then proceeded to ask questions strategically, something he had not done for a long while because he assumed he already knew this client and her needs. He was typically in a pattern of pitching new products when he met with her.

He reported that he was astonished with what followed and what he learned. As he was asking questions and gathering information, he resisted the temptation to jump in with solutions. He forced himself to dig deeper and ask the “question underneath the question.”

He kept in mind this phrase from his selling workshop: “The quality of the question determines the quality of the answer.”

Jim learned all kinds of things about his client and her business which both amazed and surprised him. His client gained new awareness and insights about her business and she told Jim he created a lot of value for her just with the questions he asked her.

After the meeting, she called Jim and thanked him again for a very productive meeting and told him it was the best meeting she had ever had.

As a result of the meeting, Jim came up with some very creative and big solutions that were spot on and she was on board! That meeting took their relationship to an even stronger level.

Jim attributed the successful sales meeting to clear intention to establish focus about the meeting purpose and to ask strategic “Discovery” questions in a new and structured way.

Have you fallen into the same trap of assuming you know what your client needs? I would love to hear from you.

This sales success story is an excerpt from my article ‘Intentional Selling for Professionals – 3 Common Mistakes Smart People Make‘. Click here to read the full article.


This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on December 27, 2011 in Client Stories, Intentional Selling™, Questioning Skills, Success Mindset. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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