The Sandler® Rules:
49 Timeless Selling Principles
and How to Apply Them
Selected Quotes

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THE SANDLER® RULES Forty-Nine Timeless Selling Principles… And How to apply Them; adapted by DAVID MATTSON

The most successful sales techniques ever revealed based on the rules developed by David H. Sandler creator of the Sandler Selling System.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them . Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

  Selected Quotes

“People make buying decisions emotionally … and they justify those decisions intellectually.”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 5). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Today, just about everyone in sales acknowledges the wisdom of that observation, and accepts that a) the prospect must be emotionally involved in the sale, and b) some kind of pain must effect the prospect on an emotional level for the sale to move forward.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 5). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

If you are a sales professional, the very best way to reinforce what you are about to learn will be to work with a Sandler trainer over an extended period.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 8). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #1 You Have to Learn to Fail, to Win
Have you ever lost a sale – and felt like a personal failure?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 13). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

The REAL-you is defined by your self-identity … your sense of self-worth. The ROLE-you is defined by your performance in a role – brother, sister, spouse, parent, little league coach, or salesperson. You may not be a particularly skilled little league coach, for instance, but that doesn’t devalue your self-worth – the REAL-you. It only means that there is room for improvement in your little league coaching skills.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 14). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #2 Don’t Spill Your Candy in the Lobby
Have you ever shared too much information, too soon?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 17). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #3 No Mutual Mystification
Have you ever heard what you wanted to hear from the prospect and lost the deal as a result?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 21). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #4 A Decision Not to Make A Decision is a Decision Have you ever had a prospect tell you, “I need to think it over?”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 25). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #5 Never Answer An Unasked Question Have you ever introduced a topic the prospect wasn’t expecting and stopped a deal in its tracks?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 29). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #6 Don’t Buy Back Tomorrow the Product or Service You Sold Today Have you ever had a buyer change his mind after committing to the sale?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 34). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

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Your goal is simply to weed out the suspects who don’t qualify as prospects as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 40). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Prospecting is a set of activities for identifying prospective users of your product or service – nothing more and nothing less. Prospecting takes place before, and leads to, the selling process. It is not selling.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 43). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #11

Money Does Grow on Trees Are you getting your fair share of referrals?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 55). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #12 Answer Every Question with a Question

Have you ever answered a prospect’s question – and wished you hadn’t?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (pp. 63-64). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Get the facts.

When a prospect uses words or phrases that are vague, ask for an explanation.

For instance, it would be appropriate for the salesperson to ask the first prospect what “excellent chance” really means. A first step to determining the meaning behind the second prospect’s comment might be, “And you’re telling me that because …?”

Don’t jump to conclusions…“YOU MUST BE TELLING ME THAT FOR A REASON.”

When Bob’s prospect said, “We’re already working with a supplier,” Bob responded with a long list of the benefits of buying from his company rather than from other suppliers.

Most of the items on that list were totally irrelevant to his prospect’s world. A better dialogue for Bob might have been this one: Prospect: We’re already working with a supplier.

Bob: You must be telling me that for a reason.

Prospect: Well, we’ve been doing business with them for several years.

Bob: Which means …?

Prospect: We’ve been pleased with their service.

Bob: And …?

Prospect: And, there would have to be a good reason to switch.

Bob: Like …?

Prospect: Well, I’m not sure. I suppose quality control would be a factor, we’ve had a higher rate of flawed product shipped to us than the CEO is looking for.

Now Bob has something to talk about! By responding to the prospect’s statement with a statement or question, Bob was able to avoid mind reading and uncover the intent of the original statement – the prospect’s respect for a vendor relationship of several years – and eventually discovered an opening for a discussion. No one can know what a prospect is thinking. Isn’t it worth a few questions to find out?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 58). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Salesperson: We can do that for you. Your investment would be nominal, and the report would provide you with the data you’d need to make a decision about reconfiguring the production line. Is that something you’d like me to do for you?

Prospect: It would be a good first step. How do we get started?

Notice that the salesperson was not pressuring for a “close” so much as continuing to engage the prospect with questions and guiding him to the sound decision to invest in an initial study.

The final question – “How do we get started?” – was a request from one professional to another, not a plea from a subordinate to a superior.

(The salesperson could also have asked, “What do we do now?”)

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 75). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Prospect: I have to tell you: Your competition’s price is a lot better than yours is. You: Okay. Is it over? (Now wait out the silence!) If remaining quiet in such a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or unprofessional, it shouldn’t. Consider your relationship with your family doctor. Doctors are some of the best “answer a question with a question” practitioners on earth! Your doctor will often answer a question with a question – and when she does, you may be quite sure she will wait until she gets a straight answer from you before she recommends a course of treatment! Restart the sale by saking “is it over?”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 79). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

You: Bill, I’m picking up some uncertainty about what we’re covering here. Is there something I’ve said or done you want to talk about?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 87). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #20

The Bottom Line of Professional Selling is Going to the Bank

Do you know why you’re showing up?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 89). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #23

The Way to Get Rid of a Bomb is to Defuse it Before it Blows Up

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 100). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Here’s an example.

You: One of the problems we may have, Harry, assuming that we decide to do business together, is this. We don’t provide local service. Is that going to be a problem?

Prospect: Yes, I’m afraid it may be.

You: Want to talk about that problem?

Prospect: Yes.

You: You start.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 101). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

An uncomfortable prospect is unlikely to make emotional investments in your sales process.

Don’t sabotage the sale with expertise.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 103). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #25 When You Want to Know the Future, Bring it Back to the Present

Have you ever been asked to “get started” …before you closed the deal?

“Do the groundwork.”

Play “Let’s Pretend.” What happens if …?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 106). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #27 You Can’t Sell Anybody Anything They Must Discover They Want It

Have you ever issued a “call to action” that didn’t produce any action?

People don’t buy on your say-so. Use a better approach. Ask, “What would that mean to you?”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 114). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Suppose your company missed a promised delivery date and the customer called to let you know how upset he is. Rather than try to explain about the trucking company’s delay, which was out of your control, you could fall back.

Here is what that might sound like:

You: Bill, I know that you must be upset about the order arriving a day late. I’m sure it wouldn’t do any good to explain what happened. I imagine that you have made up your mind never to do business with our company again.

Would that be a fair statement?

It’s hard to fight with someone who surrenders up front.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 119). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #29 Your Meter’s Always Running

Have you ever blurred the line between “friend” and “customer?”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 122). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #30 You Can’t Lose Anything You Don’t Have

Have you ever wasted time and effort on a sale that you weren’t going to close anyway?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 125). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #31 Close the Sale or Close the File

Have you ever missed a signal that there was really “no deal?”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 129). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #32 Get an I.O.U. for Everything You Do

Do you ever go above and beyond the call and get little or no credit for it?

Are you giving “free” service routinely?

Customers should notice the effort.

Use I.O.U.s to set up a future win.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 132). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Ronald Reagan once said, “It’s true that hard work never killed anyone – but I figure, why take the chance?” Tie down the sale with a monkey’s paw.

There seems to be a belief that the harder you work, the more you are likely to accomplish. Certainly, persistence and hard work do pay off in some endeavors: World class athletes, for instance, don’t become “world class” overnight.

Persistence and hard work is integral to their plan. But, their training regimen is smart. They know their limits, they focus their efforts, and they pace themselves. They don’t overexert or take shortcuts in an effort to speed up the process.

ARE YOU WORKING SMART? Working smart in the sales arena means using an efficient system to identify, qualify, and develop selling opportunities. The system should revolve around specific criteria that must be met at various stages in order to keep the process moving toward a completed sale.

If the criteria can’t be met, it’s time to abandon the opportunity and pursue another one that is more viable.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 140). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #35 If Your Competition Does It, Stop Doing It Right Away

Have you ever lost a deal because you didn’t effectively distinguish yourself

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 144). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #36 Only Decision Makers Can Get Others to Make Decisions

Have you ever lost a deal because you didn’t make the right decisions?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 147). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #37 All Prospects Lie, All the Time

Have you ever wondered why a prospect led you down the wrong path?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 151). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #38 The Problem the Prospect Brings You is Never the Real Problem

Have you ever accepted a prospect’s “diagnosis” at face value?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 154). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Here is a “last resort” question that will open up some prospects:

You: “Can I stop being a salesperson for a minute and be a consultant?

Most prospects will say “OK.”

(In the unlikely event that the prospect doesn’t say that, you can respond with a final “dummy” question. For instance: “Are we done?”)

When the prospect does say “OK” to the idea of your becoming a consultant for a moment, which is the far more likely outcome, you have an opportunity: You must now “hit” the person as hard as you can with a picture of what will happen if they don’t buy your product or service.

Here’s what you say – as a consultant. You: “Here’s my problem. I believe that what I’ve shown you makes sense for you. It’s obvious to me that you don’t agree. So, how do I tell you, without you becoming upset, that you’re not only hurting your production numbers, but also hurting your bottom line by continuing to handle your inventory with your current system?”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (pp. 158-159). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #40 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Have you ever sent the prospect the message that you “needed” the order?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 162). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

It’s OK to want the deal. It’s just not OK to need it.

An effective technique to help you keep your cool when you are tempted to act as though you need the deal is to repeat the following phrase in your mind, over and over again: I AM FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT AND I DON’T NEED THE BUSINESS.

There’s a country tune about singing “like you don’t need the money” that captures basically the same point. No one is suggesting blind denial as a sales strategy, of course, but the power of personal optimism captured in that song title is something that the very best salespeople always manage to broadcast.

If you really didn’t need the money, if you were financially independent, wouldn’t you know what to say? Wouldn’t your questions come easier? Prospect: Why should I buy from you? You: (Nurturing, but not abrasive) Maybe you shouldn’t … but let me ask you a question … (and here you continue with your line of questioning.) Remember, if you were really financially independent, if you didn’t need the business, you would neither act arrogantly nor beg for the business.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (pp. 162-163). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #43 You Don’t Learn How to Win by Getting a “Yes” – You Learn How to Win by Getting a “No”

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 171). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #45 Express Your Feelings Through Third-Party Stories

Have you ever been in front of a prospect and found yourself in a situation where you felt something, but were afraid to say it out loud?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 177). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #46 There Is No Such Thing As A Good Try Have you ever found yourself using “weasel words” with a prospect or customer?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 180). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

DON’T TRY – COMMIT The next time you’re about to say that you’ll “try” something, reconsider your approach. If the outcome of the activity is important, don’t try; instead, commit. If the activity isn’t important, then why even try?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 182). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #47 Selling is a Broadway Play Performed by a Psychiatrist

Have you ever lost your objectivity with a prospect or customer?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 184). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #48

A Life Without Risk is a Life Without Growth

Have you ever felt as though you were being left behind … because you were unwilling to learn and attempt new things? Keep reaching. Don’t get complacent.

Don’t stop learning.

Hallelujah! Things are going well – or, at least, well enough. You can finally exhale! Repeat orders from your existing customers are getting you close enough to your monthly quota to keep your sales manager off your back. You are relatively happy with the predictable amount of your monthly commission checks. Why risk changing what’s working for you? After all, life is good now … right?

You are either growing as a salesperson or you are dying.

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 188). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

Sandler Rule #49 Leave Your Child In the Car

Have you ever let your emotions get the better of you in a selling situation?

Sandler, David; David Mattson (2010-01-11). The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them (p. 191). Pegasus Media World. Kindle Edition.

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2 Responses

  1. Ryan O'Connor says:

    What are the real ethics of selling if “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” is one of the best selling techniques. Perhaps there is a defensible argument for it, but I fail to see it.

  2. Jon Matthews says:

    I thought it was an interesting take on how sales people need to have respect, not only for the customer, but for themselves. When trying to sell ourselves in a job interview, we have to be sure to stay true to our real selves and not bend on our principles just to land a good position.

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