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THE PARETO PRINCIPLE – #1 Hindrance Revisited

SalescafeThe Pareto Principle is known by the common term of the 80-20 rule.  You can apply it to all your sales calls for greater sales success.

How does the Pareto Principle pertain to the face-to-face sales call?

In a previous post “The #1 Hindrance. Are you a victim?” the number one hindrance to a salesperson during a sales interaction is that they mistake a prospect’s mild interest for a prospect’s desire to do something and provide too soon.  That is, the salesperson talks too much.  The more you talk, the more challenging the sales call can become.

Using the Pareto Principle means that your prospect should be doing most of the talking, about 80%.  How does this help you?

You can use effective questioning techniques to have them talk so you can:

  • show interest in the prospect.
  • accurately identify needs.
  • gain information.
  • control the sales call.
  • increase awareness of the need to act.
  • identify the prospect’s decision process.
  • involve the prospect mentally.
  • avoid assumptions.

Unfortunately, people believe more in what they discover for themselves than what you could ever tell them.  So, you need to get the prospect talking.

The average prospect’s attention while listening to a presentation is less than two minutes.  The moment you start to speak the clock is running.  Have you ever had a prospect ask you a question about something you just gave an answer to a moment ago had they been listening? That’s right! When you are talking you don’t know if they are truly paying attention to what you are saying.

  • As a side note – commercials are no more than 30 seconds, the average adult attention span while listening.  Can you sell your prospect in 30 seconds?

Having the prospect talk increases their attention and also their retention of the discussion.  You can know if they both heard and understood the value of what you have to offer.

A vast majority of time the Pareto Principle is operating in reverse. The salesperson is doing most of the talking.  So, what compels us as salespeople to talk?

  • Time pressure.  We feel we don’t want to waste the prospects time or the prospect appears busy.  You may even feel you are an interruption in their day.  Remember, if a prospect feels you understand their situation and feels you are being of help to them they will have time for you.  If they feel you don’t, their time becomes very limited.
  • Pressure to make sales.  The sense of urgency about making a sale can compel you to start to talk.
  • You know your product intimately.  You want them to know as much as they can in order to make a decision to use it.  It took you days, weeks, or months to learn what you know about your product or service. Your prospect may never know what you know in the limited time you have with him or her.
  • The prospect.  They know the “pitch “ is coming. So, let’s get it out of the way.  “What’s new?” “What have you got for me today?”  As they look at their watch.  They are skilled at getting you to talk.  They believe it saves them time.
  • It’s natural.  We like to talk.

You can use effective questioning techniques to avoid these pitfalls.

Further, the Pareto Principle applied to the sales call eliminates resistance.  The prospect can resist and object to everything you tell them.  Whereas, when the prospect tells you the value of using your product or service . . . that’s hard for them to argue with.  It’s their information!  All you have to do is restate what they said when discussing the merits of your product or service.

It is far easier to have the prospect sell themselves than for you to sell them.


Sales Tip #17:  Have the customer speak 80% of the time during a sales call.


Copyright 2012 J.P. Thompson CHt.  All rights reserved.

Visit Ascent Selling Technologies website:  www.ascenticg.com


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J.P. Thompson CHt


Clinical Hypnotherapist
NLP Practitioner
Master Sales Trainer (34yrs)

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