When customers come into your business, they are looking for something. However, in today’s world of constant distraction, it’s rare that their focus is solely on business. They may be annoyed at the bad traffic, they may be thinking about their lunch appointment, or trying to decide if they are really ready to make a purchasing decision today. They may be thinking about the weather. It’s anyone’s guess, but with smartphones, mental multitasking, and daily stress, don’t kid yourself; the client isn’t always thinking about your product, your business, or you.

attentionHow do we get their attention focused on our business, our product, or you (the sales person)?

In the next paragraph, I’m going to introduce you to a friend named SAM. Sam is an attention-hound. He’s a constant multi-purpose tool that offers up varying methods of getting the client’s attention. Sam can be employed in some form or fashion, no matter what the business may be. Sometimes, using more than one of Sam’s methods may be necessary to maintain the client’s attention.

Meet “SAM:”

S-tartling statement
A-sk a question bearing on a need
M-Mystery Question

N-ews/big N-ames
E-hibit or E-xample


Sam is introduced as a way of grabbing someone’s attention. You’ll find that these methods work outside of sales, too!

STARTLING STATEMENT; This is anything you say, that the customer isn’t expecting. Even in today’s modern world, customers still expect to hear “Can I help you?” or some variant.  Instead, try something along the lines of “How’s your golf game today?” or other personal question relevant to the customer. One sales person I worked with years ago would ask “What’s shakin’?” It worked quite well for his type of personality and style.

ASK A QUESTION, BEARING ON A NEED; This could be as simple as “what brings you in today?” or “Did you need an XYZ for your ZYX? (the client may be carrying a product or part).”

MYSTERY QUESTION OR STATEMENT; This was a tactic of door-to-door salespeople back in the day, yet it’s quite effective in web or personal sales. “If you can guess what I’ve got in my hand, I’ll give it to you,” or some semblance of that statement. Websites frequently use mysterious headlines to grab attention, sometimes known as “Click-bait.” Verbal “click-bait” can be effective, when used in the proper context and situation.

COMPLIMENT; The key word to paying a compliment to a client, is to be SINCERE. Pithy, hollow compliments will have the opposite effect, and you’ll lose your client’s focus before the compliment is finished.

REFERRAL; This is a good one from both angles. Either you’ve been referred by a client, or you’ll reference a client to the new person coming in, ie.; “Jim Marshall mentioned you’d be coming in this morning…” The only thing better is when the client meets us and says “Jim Marshall told me you’d be great for my business.

INSULT; Use this technique ever so carefully. Some clients we know well, and playful banter might be terrific. Some clients have personalities that no matter what, even a playful insult may bother them. Know your client, know their business before using trash-talk. Even if you know the client is a sports fan, be sure that they have a sense of humor about their favorite sports team’s losing streak before you bash the team logo on their ballcap.

NEWS/NAMES; Big news or big names, particularly when it’s relevant to your business, is always a good attention-getter. For example, “Did you hear that Trevor Noah is replacing Jon Steward on the Daily Show?” Or more specifically “Did you hear that Howie Mandel’s new show is being captured on common consumer cameras?” would be a good attention-getter for an electronics or imaging firm.

GIFT; Gifts are common attention-getters. Everyone loves a gift, whether it’s simple trade-show swag or something more personal or involved.

EXHIBIT/EXAMPLE; Some manufacturers have products cut in half to show their inner workings, or an example of component integrity. Or, perhaps there is an exhibit of a product being used in an environment. Both work well as conversation-starters and attention-getters.

SERVICE; This is easily the most powerful attention-getter there is. People love service. Frequently, clients or customers will chose service over product quality (depending on the industry). For example, I frequent a restaurant not because the food is amazing, but rather because the waiters all recognize me, refer to me by name, and make me feel incredibly welcome when I walk through their door.

SAM is a great tool for remembering and implementing attention-getting with clients, and getting them focused on our product/sales presentation and how we can best provide solutions to their problems or challenges. Getting their attention is the first step in the sales process.


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I've been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I'm feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what's happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.

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