I bristle at the idea that there are no new ideas. So, this month’s Sell Sheet is back-to-basics lesson plan for a sales call ... with an advanced spin.

Make an Appointment

If you’re an LBM dealer, you’ve had plenty of manufacturer sales representatives show up without an appointment. It’s annoying that they believe they’re entitled to your time simply because you’re a customer. The old basic? Show up during the normal course of driving your route.

The new advanced basic? Schedule appointments and watch the quality of your meetings rise and, more importantly, a dramatic increase in the productivity of your time.

Build the Right Rapport

The old basic? Talk about your client’s family and hobbies, or favorite sports team. This method of sales schmoozing can annoy clients who want to get down to business.

The new advanced basic? Get right to business. Determine up front how much time your client or prospect has for the meeting and stick to the deadline to end the meeting. If your client instigates casual small talk, then go with the flow. Otherwise, get right to business by sticking to the agenda.

Business Listening First

The old basic? Asking open-ended questions about the prospect’s buying practices. This leads to queries like: What do you like about your current supplier? What problems are you having? Good questions, bad timing.

The new advanced basic? Ask questions about your client’s business before learning about purchasing practices. Learn how they get leads and sell. Your primary goal is to help your clients succeed. The golden rule of business: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Business listening means understanding your client’s business before trying to sell anything.

Close Incrementally

It is no secret that a contractor who buys after the first meeting is likely to be a bad risk. Chances are you’ll run into credit problems or lose the client as quickly as you gained him. The old basic? Closing means asking for the order.

The new advanced basic? Closing means scheduling the next meeting and the next. In my most recent book, The Sales Secret, I describe the power of a sales strategy that focuses on generating ongoing momentum in the sales process by continually seeking the next meeting. This means salespeople should use the first three steps to seek ways they can help clients and prospects succeed. Most sales veterans agree it takes a minimum of three meetings to build a strong relationship and sometimes takes a year or longer before the first orders start flowing.

In a new age of buyer sophistication information overload you’ll stand out by being different. Forsake the old basics and recognize that modern sales leaders are different and better. The next time people tells you there are no new ideas, ignore them and recognize that new ideas emerge every day. The best salespeople evolve in a state of constant improvement.