There is a reason why salespeople are seen as sleazy, as something that we don’t want our children to grow up to be.

As I was walking through the local mall the other day, I was accosted by a salesman.

Passing by one of the cell phone company sales booths, a grinning, enthusiastic, well-dressed young salesman leaned out toward me.

And then he did it.

He accosted me.

No, he didn’t proposition me for sex.

What he did was he asked me a question.

He said…

Hey, do you want a free phone?

In a show of my excitement over his proposition… I kept right on walking.

This guy was fishing with the wrong bait.

A few things can be safely assumed about the people and cell phones these days:

  • Most people want, or believe they need, a cell phone
  • Most people have a cell phone
  • Most people have cell phone service.

So how exciting is an pitch for a phone when you already have one, or two, or three?

Not very.

What He Did Right

What he did right was he took a risk, and tried something that most people won’t do.

He had the guts to proposition me and dozens of other people that day.

I commend him for having the guts to proactively go after prospects instead of just passively sitting there waiting for someone to come and purchase from him.

What He Could Have Done Better

In a saturated, competitive market like cell phone service, pitching people just a phone isn’t very motivating.

He’s pitching something that few people need – a phone – cause they already have it.

Instead he should’ve been prospecting for problems or wants.

People get interested when you can help them fix a problem, or give them something that they have been wanting.

Here are some examples of problems a cell phone owner might have:

  • Poor cell service coverage
  • Frequently dropped calls
  • Battery no longer holding a charge

And here are just two examples of something a cell phone owner might want:

  • A thinner phone that fits easily into a pocket
  • A video camera that shoots decent quality and can go anywhere

Now anytime a salesman aggressively approaches random people in a retail setting like the mall, he is going to get a lot of rejection.

That’s OK, he has to expect that.

But if he were to ask a question like one of the following:

Hey, does your cell phone ever drop important calls?


Hey, can I show you an easy way to shoot videos of your daughter with a cell phone?


Hey, has that cell phone hanging off your belt there ever fallen off?

I am no cell phone expert, and these questions could probably be improved, but these are just some simple examples of prospecting questions that will engage some people in a conversation.

They won’t engage most people. Not even close.

But that doesn’t matter.

Questions such as the examples above will engage more people than simply pitching just a new phone.

And all a salesperson needs to do well in sales is to find those people pre-disposed purchasing from him by having a relevant problem to solve or a want to fulfill.

To learn more about applying this approach to your sales and prospecting efforts you should check out my Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program.

In it you learn how to quickly uncover motivated prospects, gain rapport with them quickly and easily, and get them wanting to give you their business without losing your self-respect.

Check it out today.