Proactive Selling

This article distinguishes proactive selling from reactive selling and illustrates the technique and benefits associated with proactive selling.

Are you getting “no’s” bleed from customers saying no too often? Try asking questions that can’t be answered with a no. Try proactive selling.

Reactive Selling

Much of the time, we adopt a reactive posture with our customers. We “lob” a statement or benefit over the fence and wait for the customers to respond to the statement or benefit. Then we react to their response. Reactive statements include:

• “I’m calling to see if there’s anything we can help you out with today.” lob … wait … The response usually is “No, not today. Thank you.” Our reaction is “Well if something comes up….”

• “Last week I sent you our line card and I’m following up to see if you’ve received it.” lob…wait… The response usually is “Yep. But I don’t need anything…” or “I don’t remember.” Our reaction is, “Well, if something comes up…”

At the very best, many reactive sales call ends with the rep – not the customer – doing something. Reactive sales call result in the rep sending literature or setting up another phone call.

With reactive sales calls, you give up control of the conversation and reduce the possibility of making something happen.

Proactive Selling

Bring the customer into the conversation with an open-ended but specific question:

• “How familiar are you with our Pro-Act registry service?”

• “How familiar are you with our Inventory Elimination service?”

• “How familiar are you with the depth of inventory we stock?

This question should be targeted towards the customer needs but can be very effective for cold-calling as well. You retain control over the conversation and build the opportunity to qualify the customer.

In General

Also, don’t forget to:

• Begin each call with a specific Initial Value Statement.

• Confirm that you’re speaking with the decision-maker. “Are you the one who makes the decision to buy/sell…”

• Ask if this is a good time to talk for a few minutes.

• If the customer has done business with your company, thank them for their business.

And Finally…

Proactive selling won’t work for everyone and won’t work all the time. But when you’re feeling like you’re getting “no’s” bleed, try proactive selling.

(This information comes from Planning for Success, a module in Entelechy’s High-Performance Sales program. Check out this module as well as our 40 other modules, training tools, and eGuides at

Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of sales, management, customer service, and training. Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or

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