5 Steps To Building Value So The Sale Closes Itself – by Paul Alves

Just read a great blog by Steve W. Martin entitled How to Close a Sales Call, which inspired this post.  I totally agree that a one size fits all approach will not bring nearly as many closed deals as a more customized approach.  A good salesperson will assess their prospects, personality, needs and business situation and put together the right plan to reach the desired goal.  Of course every product or service as well as every prospect and business situation will be different, offering endless options.  Having the ability to analyze the situation and formulate the right plan separates great sales people from the average.

I have been selling for more than 25 years, everything from Hot Dogs to high end software to Financial Services.  One approach which I have used consistently over the years is the “assumptive close”.  When I was selling Hot Dogs as a teenager, I would ask “What kind of soda are we having today?” rather than “would you like a soda today”.  As I moved up in my career and found myself selling software or services with an average selling price well into the six figures, I found that the same assumptive approach still served me well.  Of course while my approach was not quite as simple, the principal is the same.

Selling is a process with several steps, each step enables you, as a sales professional, to develop and nurture a relationship, learn about the prospect, their challenges and goals, all the while building the value your product or service delivers.  The basic steps I have used successfully over the years are as follows.

1)  Get to know your prospect, what their challenges are and if they have the desire, and ability to solve them.  A question I often ask is, “What is it that you are trying to accomplish?”, followed by “Why is that important or what happens if you do not solve it?”. The why is very often more important than the question itself.

2)  Determine if there is a fit.  Don’t be afraid to walk away at this point.  Do not try to fit a square peg into a round hole.  You most likely won’t get the sale and if you do you will have created ill will once the prospect realizes you wasted their time and money.

3)  Once you both determined there might be a fit, schedule a meeting with additional team members on both sides to drill down into detail and get additional buy in from both sides.

4)  Assuming all is going well and all key players are on the same page, put together a plan/proposal to move forward.  This should be more of a formality given that all details of how best to move forward should have been discussed already, including investment, time frame and estimated results.

5)  Proposal review.  This is the opportunity to handle any last minute questions, concerns or other details.  This is also another opportunity to restate and continue to build value, not only in your product or service but in you as a trusted advisor.  At this point you should discuss moving forward in an assumptive matter of fact manner.  You might ask if there are any further questions, then ask what their timeline/process looks like to move forward.

I firmly believe in the saying: “You’re not selling to the prospect, your helping them buy.” For me, this sums up my philosophy on selling.

Thanks for reading.


Paul Alves is Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder AG Salesworks.  He started the company in 2002 with his business partner and AG Salesworks President and Chief Operations Officer Peter Gracey.  In his current position, Paul is responsible for developing and executing long term corporate strategy and building overall company value.  He is also serving as the acting Vice President of Sales with oversight responsibility for driving corporate revenue.  Prior to founding AG Salesworks, Alves and Gracey worked together at Webhire (now Kenexa), a software firm selling applicant tracking software to companies ranging from startup to Fortune 500.

Paul began his sales career in 1980 by founding his first business as a hot dog vendor in his hometown of Jamestown Rhode Island, using the profits to finance his private high school and college education.  “Paul‘s hot dogs” is still in business today.  Since then Paul has run his families top rated restaurant, where he was executive chef, worked as a Stock Broker at Morgan Stanley, and spent several years building and managing sales teams in the mortgage industry.  Paul lives in Jamestown RI, with his wife and two children.

When he’s not at work, Paul enjoys spending time skiing and at the beach with his family, cooking and practicing Bikram Yoga. He’s also a passionate advocate for improving the education system in the United States.  His two children attend The Compass School, a charter school in Kingston, Rhode Island where Paul is currently working with the development committee to raise funds for the schools expansion plans which includes two additional buildings and 20 acres of land. Paul earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Marketing from Plymouth State University.

“By providing an environment where our team can grow professionally, financially and personally we are able to develop and maintain a team of professionals who set the standard for excellence in this industry. Having access to this level of talent brings tremendous value through best in class process to the sales & marketing teams of our clients.”

Paul Alves,
Chief Executive Officer