Give to Get

By James Barton

quid pro quoWhether you have heard of the expression ‘quid pro quo’ or not, the philosophy behind this simple little statement is one of the most understated and underused tools in the sales persons armoury.

Quid pro quo is latin for ‘This For That’ and most of the time is used to explain a favour for a favour.

So what has this got to do with selling?

Well one of my most frequently asked questions when delivering sales training, particularly when a technical demonstration is part of the customers selling process, is how do I get the customer to commit to getting the decision holder on the call?

My advice is always the same. You have something they want (the technical demonstration) and they have something you want (access to the decision maker), so use quid pro quo.

Whilst most delegates get this in the first pass, many ask how you would do that. It is surprisingly simple.

When the customer asks for the demonstration, you simply say “no problem Mr Customer, I can get that organised for you, but before I do I need to ensure that everyone involved in making this purchase is on the demonstration. You told me Mr Smith is the one who will make the final decision, so I will need him to commit to be with us. Can you make that happen?”

Of course this presupposes you have done your homework and good pre call qualification up to this point, but 99 times out of 100 they say yes, no problem.

You see it is human nature, something in built in us, to return a favour for a favour and I have yet to be directly challenged when using this approach.

Many years ago my sales mentor gave me the very best sales advice I have ever heard. As someone with decades of experience selling, he said “always end a sales call with a quid pro quo”

At first, I was sceptical about how you can do that, but after some trial and error I found that it worked.

And worked every time.

I discovered that whenever I asked the customer to do something for me and if I did something for them, all resistance seemed to slip away.

I have used it in every step in the sales process and even as part of the initial objection handling elements (you know the one. The one when the customer asks for something they can read before they talk to you), and can guarantee you if you use this very simple but extremely powerful alignment with basic human nature, you will remain in control of the sales process and get further than you ever thought possible in a much shorter time.

Don’t believe me? Try it and let me know how you get on.

Start with something very simple and build up but you WILL get results.

Do some people say no. Yes, very few, but this tells you a great deal about where you are with the customer.

If the customer does say no, you are normally dealing with a ‘no-po’ (someone with no power to say yes, but a lot of power to say no), talking to someone who is not interested or there is a problem with the relationship somewhere.

Hearing a no to quid pro quo should be seen as a yellow flag; something well worth you exploring further to qualify the deal out (in my opinion the #1 differentiator between the best sales people and the also ran’s).

Just one word of warning. Quid pro quo only works when what you ask for has a similar value as what you are giving them. As Wikipedia puts it ‘something more-or-less equal exchange”. Remember this is not your value but the customers.

So there you go a very simple, quick tip that is an elegant qualifier and catalyst to any sales process.

But it doesn’t stop there…but more of that in another article…


James is a Senior Associate and SFDC technology specialist working with Mentor Group. With over 18 years experience in IT, Sales and Personal Development James is known for his significant technical knowledge, high energy and innovative approach to any solution.