We All Live in the Sandler Submarine

Want to make more money and have more fun in your sales position? Easy, just master the art of identifying your prospect’s pain. To do this, you need to have a methodology or a sales system. That’s where the proven Sandler Sales System comes in to play for you. Not easy, but very manageable.

Sandler uses a visual-aid to help show its sales process. We call it the Sandler Submarine:

The Sandler Submarine has 7 chambers or steps in its process, and it moves left to right. If a real submarine is in distress, the crew shuts of each chamber from the other in an effort to keep the submarine from sinking. It works pretty much the same way with the Sandler System. Take care of each step along the way and you have a much better chance of avoiding a sinking deal. In fact, with a proven systematic approach to sales, you have a very good chance at consistent positive results.

Having good sales techniques is like adding fuel to your submarine, it makes it go. However, without a system in place, random techniques will only produce random results. In the Sandler System, uncovering the prospect’s pain is the engine that brings it all together, leading to consistent success.


Most people have a system or at least habits they fall back on when it comes to many daily routines, like showering, preparing for work, and even in their daily commute. You devise a system that works for you and usually in the most efficient way, or at least what you perceive to be the most efficient way. So if sales is your livelihood, doesn’t it make sense to have a proven process or system that produces great results?

Achieving great results will make your sales job more profitable for you and even make sales fun. Yes fun. Winning is fun and landing more deals means more winning. So get on the Sandler Submarine and enjoy the ride. The seven proven steps will ensure you do all you need to do to uncover your prospects problems and pain, the key to landing more and better deals.


The seven steps are briefly outlined below. Notice that the first two are going to be constants in your sales discussion, meaning you will need them throughout the process. The latter five steps are sequential benchmark events that you will complete and lock down, like an airtight seal in a submarine, before moving on with any prospect. We’ll go further in-depth on each step in future blog posts.

1. Bonding & Rapport

The first step is to establish bonding and rapport. It’s important that your prospect like, respect, and trust you. We use many tools like DISC and NLP to help us establish a strong bonding and rapport process.

2. Up-Front Contract

The up-front contract is a verbal (sometimes written in email) agreement between you and the prospect to as to what will happen in your current and/or future discussions. It sets the table and in many cases, expectations for both parties when it comes to a sales meeting. In the Sandler System, we use the five step acronym PAATO, to set guidelines for the up-front contract.

P is for purpose of the discussion or meeting

A is Agenda theirs, what items they would like to discuss

A is for Agenda yours, what items you would like to address

T is to set an amount of Time needed for the meeting that is appropriate for the issues being discussed

O is for an Outcome that is acceptable… Yes, No, or a future meeting.

3. Pain

In the Pain Step, salespeople aim to uncover three to five points of deep-seated emotional needs: pains. If they find no pain, the prospect is disqualified. No pain, no gain. Move on to the next deal.

4. Budget

Assuming the prospect has three, four, or five pains, you proceed to the fourth step, which is called the Budget Step. In the Budget Step, you seek to discover what, if anything, the prospect will pay to alleviate the pain. You need to find out whether money is available to deal with this problem. All resources the prospect will need to commit to your project should be agreed upon here.

5. Decision

This fifth step, the Decision Step, is sometimes referred to as the ultimate up-front contract. This is because in this step you reach an agreement with the prospect and confirm that he or she has the authority to make a decision in your favor. You and the prospect agree that, after sharing with the prospect how you propose to work with them, solve their problems, and alleviate their pain, he or she will make a decision.

6. Fulfillment

We call the presentation the Fulfillment Step. This sixth step starts when salespeople review the prior steps of pain, budget, and decision and share recommendations on what they would specifically do to alleviate that pain. When salespeople “fulfill the pain,” they offer the prospect a products and services that solve the problem – and nothing else.

7. Post-Sell

This seventh step, the Post-Sell Step, occurs after closing the sale. It has three purposes. The first is to check for any buyer’s remorse and address it if any exists. (Wouldn’t you rather hear about that now than later on when you aren’t face-to-face with the prospect?) The second is to get introductions or referrals or, if you prefer, to set the stage to get them later in the relationship. The third is to discuss next steps and details of the delivery timeline and provide any hand-offs to other people in your organization. This step ensures that you have a smooth transition to the next stage of your relationship with the customer.

It is important that you follow the seven steps in system in the order they’re laid out. They are organized specifically to ensure you can progress seamlessly through the sales cycle without “missing a spot.” I look forward to more in-depth looks at each step in future blogs. Stay tuned.