The Prophets of Profit: How to Approach Sales with Rob Fishman by Brian CalifanoWe had the honor of speaking with Rob Fishman, partner at Sandler Training of Hauppauge, a consulting firm that specializes in sales and sales management process improvement. The Sandler Selling System, with over 250 other affiliates worldwide, is a no-nonsense sales method that gets results and preserves the sales professional’s self-respect.

Working in the business world for over 35 years, Rob possesses a varied business and management background. After running his own business successfully, Rob sold his company and joined forces with Rich Isaac at Sandler. In addition to his sales and client development training, coaching, and consulting, Rob is also a Certified Facilitator and Coach for The Alternative Board, an international peer-to-peer business owner group, where he works directly with business owners and CEOs. He is also a certified DISC trainer, specializing in the science of communication in business development and serves on the board of the Holocaust Museum of Nassau County. He is also an avid musical director and pianist, performing in the Metro NY area.

Rob and his partner Isaac have perfected the sales process. During our conversation, Rob shares his expertise on how to approach sales for your business. Listen to the entire conversation here.

The Key to Sales is to Not “Sell”

In the past, Rob thought sales was convincing someone of something. Rob says that’s a fallacy. Sales repeats back to us that we help people discover. Your business is providing a needed service. The business need must be identified before any selling begins. What would the result be if your prospect doesn’t hire you? Would their business suffer? Would they choose a competitor? What’s the impact of them passing over you?

Sales is a strategic and planned process. The first and most essential step of the sales process is making a connection and creating trust with the prospect—and at the same time, you’ll be qualifying or disqualifying them. Disqualifying a prospect, of course, goes against what you want as a salesperson, but it’s essential if you want trust and credibility.

People don’t want a sales pitch. Do less talking and more listening and ask the prospect questions. Learn about the needs of the company. Find out why you were referred to them and the value that they are looking to get from you. Then take what you learn and determine if your services fit the business owner’s needs. The business owner won’t always see your value, and that’s fine and often happens. What does your prospect want to know about your services? This inquiry into your prospect will make you stand apart from the other salespeople “selling.”

What is the Value of What You’re Selling?

We had a question from a listener about pricing. She loses some interested customers after they learn her fee. How can she retain these interested customers without charging too little?

Rob asks us to visualize 2 boxes: Value and Price. When someone pushes back on the price, you must first ask yourself, have you built up the value of your product?

Value is a perception. If you lower the price, you’re lowering the value. But here’s the challenge, a common one amongst business owners and sales people: you’re eager to make the sale, but you don’t want to provide the service for less than what you feel it’s worth.

You must convey intent and confidence when speaking about your products and services. Think about what your per hour rate should be. Keep that number in your head. You need to use it to create leverage when trying to make the sale. You need to get people to understand the importance and value of you and your services.

AcceleratingCFO also suggested using market research to determine a fair price. Understand who your customer is and what the perceived value of your service is amongst them. The fair market value price will organically arise out of this.

Understand and appreciate your worth. The average human being has 60,000 thoughts a day. 70% of those thoughts are negative self talk or “headtrash” as Rob calls it. This headtrash immobilizes the sales process and prevents us from attaining the conviction one needs in sales. Throw the trash to the curb!

Triangle of Success

In business development, there’s a triangle of success. At the top is attitude—mindset, conviction, and belief in ourselves. At one of the bottom corners is behavior—what actions do we take regardless of how we feel? Do we have the discipline, vitality, and guts to continue until we attain the goal? At the final corner is technique—what are we saying when we open our mouths?

No “Maybes” in Sales

There are only a handful of possible outcomes of a sale:

  • Yes. Ok, great!
  • No. Ok, great! This is a clear answer and is inevitable. Not every customer is a good fit for your service, and your service is not a good fit for every customer.
  • Maybe. This cannot not be an option. What does “maybe” even mean? It could mean a multitude of things. “Maybe if the numbers work out.” “Maybe, but I have to talk to my team first.” “Maybe” cripples a sales opportunity. You must replace the “maybe” with a clear next step.

Note to Sales Managers: Manage the Behavior; Measure the Results

Rob warns against directing your sales team to “sell hard.” You’ve probably seen or heard a sales manager inciting their team to push hard to get more sales as a month or quarter ends. This creates stress and puts a lot of pressure on the sales team. The ends do not justify the means here. You need to take a step back, manage the behavior of the sales team, and then measure the results. Document it and chart your progress. If the results are not what is desired, then go back to the behaviors and change what is needed.

Know Your Bottomline Price

Our second question from our audience was also about pricing. It comes from a freelance animator who wants to know how to deal with a client that’s offering him less money than his rate.

AcceleratingCFO asserts that you must know what your bottomline rate is — where you stop making money and start losing money. How much is your time really worth? What’s the fully loaded cost of delivering the service? Make sure to include overhead. With all of that, you’ll get your minimum baseline price. If they can’t meet that, then move on. Not every client is a good fit.

Never Defend, Justify or Explain

So let’s say you just got some pushback on the price. You need to make your case without defending, justifying or explaining your price. Why did they contact you in first place? What is their need? One of the biggest mistakes made when negotiating a sale is bringing the budget up too early or too late. When it’s time, learn about the budget—is there a budget set aside for hiring freelance professionals? Do they have a number in mind allocated to use for this service (by you or a competitor)? Remember that not all prospects are going to be completely honest. There will often be pushback.

Before you, as a salesperson, walk in the door, you need to have a negotiation with yourself first. Build your value. Determine your price. Stick with it. You’re not just a utility. You’re a value-adding service.

Listen to our entire conversation here.

To continue learning from Rob Fishman’s wisdom on the sales process:

Visit Sandler’s website at

Connect with Rob on LinkedIn

Brian Califano & Scott MargolinBrian Califano

Scott Margolin

Co-founders & Managing Partners


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