The final two big reasons why summaries help you sell!

The interim summary is a huge driver in a sales conversation, and so far we’ve covered three of the five most important reasons why.  Today I’ll review four and five, saving the best for last.

Here’s an experiment you can do in a workshop if you’re a trainer.  I’ve used it many times and it works.  At the beginning of your module on the power of summaries, ask each person in the class to give you any three-digit number.  Let’s say that someone says “384.”  Don’t give them any reason for this; just go around and get a number from them.  Now proceed with the module on summaries.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedWhen you get to reason number four, ask each participant to tell you the number he gave you earlier. Everyone will get it right.  Why?  Because it’s easier to remember things you say out loud.

In our sales conversation, let’s say that you have told me all the things that are going wrong in this period’s manufacturing cycle. Now I’m going to restate or paraphrase to show I’m listening. But then when it’s time for me to close for some action, I’ll remember all the key points from our conversation, the ones I’ve previously summarized.

This experiment helps your learners see that they will remember better anything they’ve said out loud.  If you’re still skeptical, here’s another experiment you can do at home. Next time you’re reading a book and it’s time to close it, instead of inserting a bookmark, look at the page number and say it out loud:  “227.”  Now close the book.  I guarantee you’ll open the book to the right page when you resume reading.

Now that you see our fourth key reason is that summaries help you remember the key subjects from your meeting, let’s examine the fifth and final reason. It’s a killer.

Interim summaries serve as trial closes, also known as “progress test questions” and they are very powerful in helping you gain early commitment during the sales conversation. Let’s look at an example.

You have just shared with me your accounts receivable collection process and I can see many weaknesses in the way mail is received, desk float and other inefficiencies.  So I summarize this for you with,

“It sounds to me that with the uncertainty of mail, infrequent trips to the bank and desk float, you’re losing anywhere from 6 to 8 days in the collection process.  I imagine if you could subtract that same week’s loss from your disbursement process, you’d pick up some added trade discounts wouldn’t you?”

Now you hope that your prospect says something like, “Yes, it probably would.”

Bang!  You did it.  Now when it’s time to wrap up your meeting and agree on next logical steps, you say,

“Bill, we agreed earlier that the revenue collection process has some inefficiencies that are costing you money. Let me make a recommendation to you on how we can fix that…”

It’s difficult for your customer to disagree with something he’s already said, so you have a much better opportunity to advance your sale.

In this and my preceding two posts we’ve examined some powerful reasons why listening and summarizing will make you not only a more effective salesperson, but also someone who other people enjoy speaking with.  Give it a try, and remember to…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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