The Sales Puzzle Training Tips

In May 2006 I met an Englishman that veered towards the sales training axis so beloved by Americans that preaches shaking up both your personal and professional life. Yet he was a thoroughly decent and knowledgeable chap who just held up short of that kind of damaging evangelism.


At that time, Paul Harris was delivering sales team makeovers under the branding of The Sales Puzzle.

Aimed primarily at wholesale-distributor salespeople, ones with plenty of customers – too many to visit each month – and hundreds – if not thousands – of products, one area of his initial two-day course sought to answer Three Golden Questions.

Q1 How do you increase the number of customers who buy from you?
Q2 How do you increase their average order value?
Q3 How do you increase the average frequency of purchase?

And by way of enticement, provided the figures to show how much impact working on these could bring.


His IP included workshopping those 3 Golden Qus to reach this tabulated higher state.

He also summarised twenty objections that each salesperson must know how to handle in such an environment. I believe these are fairly generic across this arena. But it is criminal how few of them the vast majority of reps involved in this space can properly handle. Test yourself on this sample.

You’re too expensive
We don’t sell cheaper stuff
We’ve managed without you before so we don’t need you now
I don’t stock that kind of thing
I’ll wait until it’s on promotion
I don’t like the packaging
I’ve never heard of your company
It’s not listed on our system so I can’t order
We’re happy with another supplier
I’ll wait until someone asks me for one
The Boss is busy so I can’t do anything
The Boss can’t see you today
Leave the order with me and I’ll place it later
It’s very quiet right now so I’m not taking new lines

And the final takeaway I liked demonstrates that sales training is a process, not just the all too frequent once-off hit with a free jolly in the hotel bar afterwards. How would his Five Focused Questions apply to you?

What shall I stop doing completely?
What shall I minimise or do less?
What shall I maintain or keep doing?
What shall I maximise or do more?
What shall I start doing that I’m not doing now?

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