The Language Of Control: Who Is Qualifying Whom In A Buyer-Seller Interaction?

Internationally sought-after trainer and speaker Bob Urichuck shares a few tips on how salespeople can take complete control of the sales process

The salesperson should always be in control, letting the buyer think that he or she is in control

The salesperson should always be in control, letting the buyer think that he or she is in control

When it comes to a buyer-seller interaction, who is really qualifying whom?

    1. Is it the buyer qualifying the salesperson via the buyer process, or
    2. The salesperson qualifying the buyer via the sales process

Hint: it has nothing to do with grammar – but everything to do with control.

Got your answer? Next question:

If someone was to be in control, whom should it be?

  1. the buyer or
  2. the salesperson?

Next: how does each demonstrate control and what is the final outcome? Who rejects whom?

See where I am going?

If you are in business or sales and want to shorten your sales cycle, be in control of the sales process, not leave money on the table, and increase your overall revenue while creating a secondary sales force, you will want the answers to the above questions.

Salespeople think they are qualifying buyers and believe they are in control of the sales process.

Salespeople demonstrate this by answering questions freely, sharing their product knowledge and related benefits, quoting prices and sometimes even discounting their product or service to close the sale. How can they not be in control?

The Bottom Line

In reality, it is the opposite.

It is the buyer who is qualifying and in control of the buying process, while salespeople think they are in control.

Buyers demonstrate this by asking questions, listening and leading the conversation to where the buyer wants to go, asking for discounts, and misleading the salesperson with “Let me get back to you”, or “I will think it over.” This in turn wastes the salesperson’s time but gives them the feeling that they may have a sale, at least a hope of a sale.

In day-to-day sales, who really rejects whom? It is the buyer rejecting the salesperson, but not directly as the buyer rarely says no.

Who should be qualifying whom?

Is it not the salesperson’s job to qualify buyers and reject them while maintaining the relationship for future business? That is what sales is all about, is it not?

Who should be in control?

The salesperson should always be in control, letting the buyer think that he or she is in control.

In most cases, buyers see more salespeople in a day, than salespeople see buyers. Buyers see the same techniques over and over again. Over time, salespeople have educated buyers and they know exactly what the salesperson is going to say or do next. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting the same results.

Stop Falling into the Buyer’s System

Take the following scenario. You are a buyer. You want to buy sunglasses and your budget is $500.

You walk into a retail outlet and in typical fashion the salesperson approaches you and says, “Hello, can I help you?”

How do you respond?

The common answer is, “No, thank you, I am just looking.”

Buyers lie to salespeople.

So, the first step in the buyer’s system is to mislead the salesperson. Why do they do that? Is it because the salesperson hasn’t yet earned their trust? Or is it because buyers know that salespeople lie and are just trying to stay one step ahead of them?

You find what you are looking for, call over the salesperson and begin to ask relative questions.

Buyers use you for free consulting.

The second step in the buyer’s system is to get free consulting. The salesperson falls into your trap and you receive free consulting because they are willing to share all they know. The buyer asks, and the salesperson replies.

Now, as a buyer, what do you say to the salesperson once you have gained all the necessary information? Likely, “Leave it with me to think it over and I will get back to you.”

The third step in the buyer‘s system is to mislead the salesperson again. Most salespeople fall into this trap every time. As a salesperson, has this happened to you?

Buyers hide.

The fourth step in the buyer‘s system is to hide. This comes into play when the salesperson makes a follow up call and leaves a voice mail or sends an e-mail. After all, the buyer did say he would think it over and get back to them. Buyers never get back to a salesperson, nor do they answer their calls or reply to voice or e-mail.

Your job as a professional salesperson is to STOP falling into the buyer’s system. START to follow a sales process. Get back in control.

Taking Control of the Sales Process

So, how can a salesperson demonstrate the appropriate behaviours to be in control?

Learn from buyers and how they maintain control – they ask questions, they listen and then lead the conversation to where they want it to go.

As a sales professional, asking questions allows you to build a relationship of trust with the buyer, set parameters around the interaction, qualify the buyer for buying motivators, financial ability and decision making prior to talking or sharing solutions. Doing so puts you in control of the sales process.

Also, by setting the parameters based on buyer terms, you do not waste time. You gain commitment and work on a “No” or “Yes” basis, or at least establish a clear future.

  • It is time to be ‘buyer focused.’ It is no longer about you, your brand, product or service, features or benefits. It is all about the buyer!
  • It is the responsibility of the salesperson to build relationships. The more relationships you have, the bigger your network and the bigger your net worth.
  • It is time to be in control, not thinking you are in control!
  • It is time to qualify, not be qualified.
  • It is time to ask questions, not answer them!
  • It is time to be listening, not talking!
  • It is time to get a better return on your time invested (R.O.T.I) with a buyer!
  • It is time for you to follow a proven sales system.

You want a proven sales process that will allow you to quickly build rapport to gain necessary trust, set parameters to eliminate surprises and establish a clear and concise process that will allow you to move forward. At the same time, you must qualify the buyer with respect to buying motivators, financial ability and decision making.

When this process is complete and everything is summarised, you will be in a position to determine if the prospect is qualified or not to allow for your time, products or services. Then and only then, you can decide to proceed with a prescription or simply walk away from the buyer, while maintaining a relationship for future business.


The article is written by Bob Urichuck, an internationally sought-after speaker, trainer-founder of the ‘Buyer Focused’ Velocity Selling System – and bestselling author in six languages. His latest books, Velocity Selling: How to Attract, Engage and Empower Buyers to Buy, and Motivate Your Team in 30 Days are new in 2014.

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