Good horsemanship is built on solid basics…so is good business!

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
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on Friday, 10 October 2014
in Professional Development

Sales Tool Kit, Part 2

Like the layers of an onion, your prospects and customers build their exposure and opinion of you one contact at a time. Every communication with you builds your relationship, layer by layer. You must be consistent, provide value, accessible, and inclusive and/or engaging. In Part 1 we explored Sales Tool Kit, Step 1. Now in Part 2 we’ll finish up the Tool Kit.


2) Uncover the need, problem or pain that your prospect is experiencing. (Sales funnel stage: Awareness)

This is where your ability to ask questions and listening skills are clearly an asset. The way that you ask questions is really important. The person that you are speaking with must have the feeling that you are really interested in THEM as an individual, and that you understand THEIR situation. After you ask your question/s, give them enough time to answer, don’t cut them off. Really listen to what they are saying. Don’t guess at how they are going to end their sentence or assume that you know what’s coming next. You are trying to get to the core issue from their point of view.

What kinds of questions should you ask? For starters, there is a difference between an Open Question and a Closed Question. Open Questions ask your prospect to talk about their experience and views, whereas Closed Questions are yes/no questions. Using Open Questions to uncover the need, pain or problem can provide you with much needed information. Ask questions that:

  • Help to identify the current condition of the prospect/client’s situation
  • Provide direction and information about what their desired condition is
  • Determine the challenges the prospect /client is having in reaching their desired condition

While you are uncovering the need, pain or problem, keep the questions conversational. None of us likes it when we feel like we are being interrogated – that just puts us in the “this is an aggressive sales person” frame of mind and defensive rather than open to ongoing communication.

3) Determine the objection to making the purchase. Offer alternatives that address the objection. (Sales funnel stage: Desire, Action)

In order to move the sales process forward, you’ll need to overcome objections. Don’t confuse this with arguing with the prospect. Overcoming objections really is about providing alternative ways to see the way to the solution. The most common objectives relate to:

  • Price – It’s not in my budget.
  • Need – No, I’m good. I’m happy the way I am. c
  • Timing – This isn’t a good time, we’re too busy/not busy enough.
  • Authority - I want to check with my husband/wife before deciding.
  • Value – I want to think about it.

When objections are raised, dig a little deeper by asking questions. Use questions that start with “Help me understand…..” Or “Can you tell me more about….” Or “What do you mean when you say….” These questions will dig deeper, provide you with more information, and show that you are interested in them. Avoid asking “Why?” Questions that begin with why provide the prospect with the chance to back up their objection. Asking questions that also restate what you think you’ve heard demonstrate your interest and understanding of their situation, helping to build rapport.

4) Present your ideas, products, services as solutions. (Sales funnel stage: Interest)

Communicate the value of your offering. Focus on the benefits rather than features. Provide real examples and details about how your offering solves their problem or fills their need. Remember, too, that if buying your offering represents a change for the prospect, that most people dislike change. If you can give examples of others who have made this type of change and have been happy that they did, you’ll help to soothe this concern.

5) Develop a relationship where you are viewed as knowledgeable, approachable and trustworthy. Establish good contact and communication channels. (Sales funnel stage: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, Customer Satisfaction, Referral)

Ongoing communication with potential buyers and clients is one of the most difficult things to maintain. Yet it is a key element to establishing and developing a relationship in the beginning, and subsequently maintaining it later. Lots of businesses are not good at this, but that doesn’t mean that you should take comfort in knowing that or also falling short. Take some time to strategize how you will demonstrate your knowledge, approachability and trustworthiness. It may be that you will use Facebook or other social media. It may be that you send out a monthly email newsletter. The point is to carve out the time to do it, and then DO IT! People like consistency and stability, and you can demonstrate that through these channels. It’s also the squeaky wheel that is remembered – so if you are there month after month with helpful tips in a newsletter you are more likely to get a call from a prospect than a competitor that doesn’t ever communicate and engage.

You’ll also want to develop a means to track engagement. For example, you can set up a simple contact chart using excel. Or perhaps you prefer Microsoft Outlook as a means to track contact and engagement. You’ll notice who is moving from potential buyer, to buyer, to evangelist as well as which offerings they have responded to the best. This can be very useful in developing subsequent offerings.


Let's face it - we’d all like a magic bullet. Alas, when it comes to business skills, they are like any of our riding and training skills. It takes making a start, putting one foot in front of the other, working at it day by day, and practice, practice, practice. So today’s YOUR DAY! Make your start, put a foot out, and get going with building your sales skills. Over time you’ll notice that they’ve gotten easier and that you’re noticing a difference in how prospects and customers react to you.

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About the author

Lisa Derby Oden

I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that is! Early in my career I owned and operated Derby Farm, a riding stable in Buxton, Maine. I have also worked as a freelance riding instructor and bring all this practical experience to my consulting work. Blue Ribbon Consulting focuses on business and nonprofit development in the equine industry. I provide evaluation, planning, research, marketing and problem-solving services to take you successfully through all your horse business transitions. I've worked with clients around the world, and have received state and national honors for my work in the equine industry. Since I love this industry and believe in it, I've also been a nonprofit founder, board member, and executive officer for local, state and national organizations. I've worked with nonprofits in strategic planning, program development, corporate development, fundraising, grant writing and grant administration. Part of this wonderful journey has also allowed me to serve as adjunct faculty and guest lecturer at several universities, and to deliver business development, marketing, and leadership seminars throughout the United States. I also developed and oversaw the Entrepreneurs Resource Center for a community college. I've published two books, have been a columnist and freelance writer for many trade publications, and am a partner in the CD series “Inventing Your Horse Career.”


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