The first one to speak loses..

The worst sales advice I ever received!

The first one to speak loses…

At the age of 18 I had started my first job in outside sales..

And after I had exhausted my list of friends and family. I hit a sales slump of three weeks! Now three weeks may not seem like a long time, but when you are 100% commission and have bills to pay. It’s a long time! Peanut butter jelly sandwiches became a daily staple of my diet.

My boss pulled me aside and asked me what was wrong.. I had no clue. I ‘thought” I was doing everything right. Just like I was trained to do on every appointment I shared fifty benefits and features. And I always remembered the first one to speak loses! That was the formula to success.

He said, “Ok here is what I will do. I will do a ride along with you and help you close some deals. You present and I will close them. I am a closer. Tomorrow we have a lot of appointments, we will be driving three hours away so pack a lunch (No problem, I thought to myself. I am good at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)”

Unfortunately the day wasn’t going as planned. Our first two appointments canceled, the third one wasn’t qualified. We had one final hope. Her name was Grace.

Grace. Was a 67 year old lady and a ball of energy. I liked her. She was funny and very caring. She actually reminded me of Betty White. Before the boss showed up she even thanked me for cleaning her carpet and even offered me dinner! ( A big upgrade over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)

The Third Party Close

As was the process, my boss would drop me off and if I had gone through my fifty benefits and features I was to “call the boss” and that would be his cue to come into the home and close the deal.

I made the call to my boss to come and told Grace that only my boss had the authority to approve the deal.

He walks in and is ready to do business.

He pulls out a notepad and writes $2300 dollars today only! A savings of $300.

I was excited! I was going to see the master closer in action!

She looked at the paper and said to my boss aka the closer, “ I think I am happy with my current equipment.”

The closer looked at her and said, “Ok, I don’t normally do this, but today only you can have this system for $1500!”

She looked at the paper and said, “ Let me think about it.”

The closer was determined to get this sale and I was beginning to think Grace was determined to say no. The price went from $2300 down to $650! I couldn’t believe it!


Him and Grace looked at each other. It was like standoff in the old western movies. He and her just sat there in silence! Looking at the piece of paper with $650 written on it. I had no clue what was going on. All I knew I felt very uncomfortable.

Grace slowly reached over to her purse. The closers eyes widened like he won the lottery!

“Grace, I do believe you are really going to like this machine.”, I said.

If looks could kill, I would not have made it home. His face turned beet red! Uh Oh,, what did I do!

“Sorry, sir, I just don’t think this is the right machine for me and I have to get going.” Grace said.

I had never seen the closer lose his cool, but I had a strong feeling once we got into his vehicle that I was about to face his wrath! I was right!


Shut your mouth!


Many choice words were thrown my way and then I got reminded of the sales formula..

“ Did you or did you not tell her about the 50 features and benefits?”

Sheepishly I said, “Yes.”

“Do you realize she was reaching into her purse for her checkbook, by you talking we lost the deal! Don’t you know. The first one to speak loses!! If they talk they lose.. you win! “ That’s all you have to know! The first one to speak L-O-S-E-S!!!!!!!”

Even at a young age. This seemed like bad advice.

Shouldn’t it be WIN-WIN? Don’t you have to talk to find out what other the person wants? Should we be collaborating together on what’s best?

One week later I learned more on why this was bad advice and I broke my sales slump.


Curiosity and Resistance cannot co-exist.

 A week later I was back in town and saw Grace at the gas station.

She said, “Oh Hello Tony, I sure hope I didn’t get you in trouble with your boss.. He didn’t seem too happy about my decision.”

“Oh no you didn’t get me in trouble…However I have to ask, he gave you a real good deal… Why didn’t you buy that day? I saw you reaching into your purse for your checkbook.”

She laughed, “I wasn’t reaching into my purse for my checkbook.”


“Really. I was reaching into my purse for chapstick. My lips get really dry. I bet your boss thought I was reaching for my checkbook though.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, “Ok, then why didn’t you buy?”

“There is no doubt that your machine was great. I did need a new machine. It’s the reason why I booked the appointment in the first place. But, do you remember all those stairs I have? I just didn’t know if could carry it up and down the stairs! I didn’t want to buy something that would be a hassle to move around.”


“WOW! I was so busy talking about how great my product was that I never asked you, What is it that you want? I am so sorry.”


Grace later went on told me that I wasn’t first salesperson to make that mistake either.


She was right.


Your product may be the best thing since slice bread. However if you don’t ask, listen and understand what the other person wants you won’t have the success you desire. It doesn’t matter who speaks first or last. Because the most important words spoken is what the prospect or your employee wants. People don’t buy off of needs. They buy off of their wants.


6 valuable lessons on selling courtesy of  Grace.


  1. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
  2. Ask the person what outcomes they are hoping to create and how you can best assist. You may even start by asking what their desired outcome is as the result of the meeting. Then listen.
  3. Ask questions and be curious to get an understanding of what does the person view as the current reality of the situation. If you are afraid of encountering resistance remember that curiosity and resistance cannot coexist. What facts or perceptions are in play that are potentially affecting outcomes. Again, listen.
  4. Have the person explore what options are available to them to achieve the desired outcomes and have them evaluate the pros and cons to arrive at a solution. For example I could have let Grace use the machine to see how light it was for her to carry throughout her home. Instead I played the show and tell game.
  5. Recap what you learned by listening. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the other person wants.
  6. Work together on the best solution.


In retrospect, my boss was probably only teaching me what he had learned. However as a sales professional and/or leader do your best to listen. Listen, take notes, and be curious. Not speaking is not about winning, but instead about gathering important information on how you can serve the other person.

What is the worst sales advice you ever got? Please share. 

Equip, Educate, Empower, and Encourage others to become better leaders!

Be great today!

Tony Jalan


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About the Author

Tony Jalan is a top performing Division Sales Manager at Heartland Payment Systems, a Fortune 1000 company voted by Selling Power Magazine the #1 company to sell for in the U.S. Tony’s strategies on leadership and mentorship has created growth of 300% in his sales division in just 6 short years. Tony is also the author of Mentorship Lessons, a weekly blog about lessons  he has learned about sales and leadership over a career that has spanned over 18 years..

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