Home > Interview > If I could... would you...?

If I could... would you...?

I've heard this one quite a few times on the car lot. For instance;

"If I could get this truck at a payment you're comfortable with would you take it home today?"

Is this question about commitment, manipulation or something else? - by Newbie
How about a mix of all three (3)?

It does get a commitment however it may be perceived as manipulation by the salesperson which can be very aggravating. ;) - by Houston
I think that format probably started as a mutiliated effort to do a trial close. It may work with some folks, but if I'm ever asked a question like that (and I don't want to just walk out) I'll answer it with something like, Well, you tell me your price, and I'll tell you whether I'll take it home.

I think some folks in the car biz sometimes make a lot of assumptions about their customers. A few years ago I wanted to buy a mini-van off the lot. The salesman at the first dealership I went to had just what I wanted, but it seemed like he wouldn't really negotiate with me until he had an interim commitment. He wanted me to take it home for the weekend, etc. So, I went to the 2nd dealership on my list - that rep had one I liked so I bought it.

The following day, the first rep called me saying, You know, that vehicle is still here on the lot.... I said, well that's OK, I've got one sitting in my driveway.

It really confused me as to why, but he was dumbfounded. :D

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
I agree with Houston that in many, if not more, cases it's probably a combination of the three. Pesonally, I haven't and wouldn't utter that phrase to a customer because of the potential negative impact but that's just me. ;) - by Jackie
I think it's a cheesy way to try an get a comittment from a buyer. To me, it's no different than asking, "What will it take to get your business today?" or similar questions.

A sales professional does not have to resort to tactics such as these, regardless of what he or she sells.

Kelley - by Kelley Robertson
"If I could get this truck at a payment you're comfortable with would you take it home today?"
Before we jump to conclusions.....

The question is very valid.

But--the style of delivery, and often the timing, is poor. - by Gary Boye
Listen! Its all in delivery! You can say just about anything you want to a customer if delivered in an enthusiastic(if thats the right mood for what your saying) style!!

If you dont believe that this phrase will work as a tool for a specific job, then of course it wont work, and it will never work! But I'll stay off my soapbox for now =]

I use that exact phrase. and that phrase alone has shot my personal referral campaign through the roof. I blew away my referral goal by using that exact phrasing!

Try this...
Once you have a meeting with whoever your dealing with... real estate agents: listing appoints. MLM Oppertunities: oppertunity meetings, office machines: 1st meeting, whatever your 1st meeting is with your prospect clients just say

"Ya know jim, I dont know if what i have will make sense for your exact (situation/business/team/whatever), But if i could do my best to help you find the perfect solution, even if its not with me, would you feel comfortable sharing with me some referrals of other (managers/teams/business's/owners/) that could use my (service/support/ideas/whatever finessed thing you come upwith)"

I dont know if that idea will work for you guys or not, but if it could help you up your referral average, even from prospects who dont buy from you, would you use it?

Jason - by jasonc
I like your script Jason. Thank you for sharing. Feel free to throw out a few others if you have 'em. - by Liberty
That is an excellent script. I think what probably makes it work is that your phrasing sounds honest, and that you really care about solving their problem, with a touch of integrity thrown in. - by Doc MC
Jason, you made a great point. I viewed the original question as being a tie-down style and I'm not a great fan of this type of question. However, your particular example and corresponding script helped me see a different way to use it.

Nicely done!

Kelley - by Kelley Robertson
If you really believe that selling requires persuasion, convincing and other manipulations, then Rhetorical questions sound great to you. Almost any sales tactic that an intelligent salesperson tries will work occasionally - if it is tried enough times. However, most of those things result in very low closing rates.

If you kept records of everything that you do when you're selling, then you would know which sales tactics have the highest the probability of working. That's how we did it. - by JacquesWerth
The last two times we times we went to a car lot to get a car we knew exactly what we wanted and would pay for it - so it never fit the car salesman to ask the initial question of this thread - he either agreed or we went to another lot.

In both cases we got what we wanted at the first lot we visited. The last time the young-and-new-at-the-job tried to play "hard ball" with us and went into all kinds of gymnastic verbal and emotional actions. I asked to speak with with senior salesman in the place, told him what had happened and what I wanted and would pay for it, and we closed the deal.

For most of my life I never went prepared like I do now - I did things in a dumb way which always put me in the position of going to buy something feeling mistrusting and defensive - it was always a highly unpleasant activity.

Today I know what I want in a common consumer good, do some research - watch the papers - and know almost exactly what I'm going to pay. So it's easy for the salesman - I do the work the he/she collects and get's paid comission or hourly. - by MitchM
I've heard this one quite a few times on the car lot. For instance;

"If I could get this truck at a payment you're comfortable with would you take it home today?"

Is this question about commitment, manipulation or something else?
For me, this question is all about commitment. For the people that think this is a bad question just keep in mind the salesman does not determine your final price! I will work with a customer to get the right price, but before I put my rear on the line in front of my sales manager I have to make sure the customer will actually buy the car if I get them the price they want. The question may not be worded exactly like the question above, but in context it is the same question.

I have had deals in which I have negotiated with my manager for a price at or close to invoice just to have the customer say "Thank you" and walk out. Once a car salesman goes to the manager for the first "pencil", the manager expects to sell a car. If the salesman get the customer the price they are looking for and the customer does not buy that car, imagine how bad that makes the salesman look to the guy that holds his job in his hands!

Just to clarify, the "If I could..would you?" question is the same as asking, "If I got you everything you are asking for, would I earn your business today?" The today part is important because the price you negotiate today very well may not be good tomorrow should the incentives from the factory change the next day. Also, without a deposit, the dealership can not refuse to sell that car to another customer. If the customer is not ready to purchase the car, why go through the brain damage of negotiating a price on the car for nothing?

I'll answer it with something like, Well, you tell me your price, and I'll tell you whether I'll take it home. KSA-Mktg
Works for me, you gave a commitment to buy. What I hear you saying is, "If you get me the price I am comfortable with, I will take this vehicle home today!" The more a salesman listens to his customers, the less he has to ask this question. I only use this technique if I have been unable to get the proper buying signals from the customer.
Before reading this post, I never knew so many people might get offended by such a simple, straight-forward question. From facial expressions/body language (to the best of my knowledge) I have never offended anyone with this question. Maybe my delivery is spot on...maybe I've only asked the right people this question...maybe I lost a few sales because I did ask the wrong people and that's why I couldn't find out the real objection. Either way, thank you Newbie for bringing this up. I'll watch out for this one in the future ;) (sorry if I am kinda scatter-brained on this post) - by EXP Creative
Listen! Its all in delivery! You can say just about anything you want to a customer if delivered in an enthusiastic(if thats the right mood for what your saying) style!!
So, so true. :cool: - by Jolly Roger
"If I can do such and so, what will you do?"
That is non-manipulative and far more effective than "if I could ..., would you..."

It requires that the prospect creates and commits to an outcome (close) that is satisfactory to the seller - before any further action is taken.

If the prospect is not ready to buy at this point, they will almost always back off gracefully without feeling any pressure. - by JacquesWerth
JW, at this point I'm not in agreement with you that one version is more effective than another.

I would also say that from my point of view version 2 doesn't require a commitment but version 1 does.

Would you provide more insight into your viewpoint on those two points? Thanks. - by BossMan
Okay.

The primary reason that I believe that "... what will you do?" is more effective is that we have tested both. In fact, we have tested almost everything that most salespeople do to determine what is the most effective way to sell.

"If I could ... would you ...?" requires a commitment and it attempts to manipulate a "Yes" answer. When people are manipulated it creates sales resistance that often kills the sale.

"... What will you do..." also requires commitment but, if the commitment is positive it requires that the prospect creates his/her own commitment.

When people create something, they hardly ever give it up and reverse their decision. It also allows for a negative commitment, which decreases sales resistance. - by JacquesWerth
What if the salesperson isn't trying to manipulate a "yes" answer? The reason I ask is that I, and I think a few others here, believe that manipulation is about "intention". - by BossMan
Manipulation is in the eyes (and ears) of the prospect- regardless of what the salesperson intends or believes.

Salespeople also like to believe that they always tell the truth, that establishing rapport is important, that their closing averages are at least twice what they really are, that they know how to effectively persuade people, that logical arguments can be effective, and a lot of other things to justify their ways of selling.

We only care about what works best - most of the time. - by JacquesWerth
I followed the thread with interest and I believe BossMan asks good questions.

I have a question for Jacques and BossMan. Is it possible that "manipulation" has a moral implication in this discussion for one and not the other?

Let me qualify that. I ask that question as a proponent of Jacques' method, but also as a person who has taught manipulative selling techniques to people in large and small companies; as one who has used manipulative techniques successfully (a relative term); as a person who appreciates the science of persuasion.

I do not equate manipulation to dishonesty--but I view some forms of manipulation as dishonest.

Is a moral implication getting in the way of understanding here? - by Gary Boye
When I began to take the things Jacques talks about and has researched I had to confront myself in a way that required me to not only look at how I did business but also to look at myself as a consumer. When I did the latter and applied what Jacques says in EVERY EXAMPLE I responded better AND had both self respect and respect for the one doing the asking and the one beintg asked.

This was a begining step into changing how I think and what I do and still study to improve. Most of the so called selling techniques I know of seem very shallow and manipulative in a controling and negative way now. - by MitchM
That's a pretty far reaching statement. Care to elaborate?
Rapport, can be defined as a "relation of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people". In any relationship lacking this rapport what do you have? Nothing. ;) - by SalesGuy
Manipulation is a tool that we all use in many different situations and circumstances. It is not dishonest unless it is used to deceive.

Manipulation in selling is (most often) used to slant the facts about the salespersonís products and services - emphasizing or exaggerating the positives and omitting or denying the negatives. In my opinion, anything short of total disclosure is deception.

I am not a moralist. If the results of using deception got statistically better results than honesty, I might have conducted research on the most effective methods of manipulation.

Robert B. Cialdini wrote an excellent book on the subject: "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion". It is notable that he does not recommend the use of the various manipulations that he describes. - by JacquesWerth
Rapport, can be defined as a "relation of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people". In any relationship lacking this rapport what do you have? Nothing. ;)
It certainly can be defined that way by personal preference according to one's functional beliefs. According to mine, rapport would equate more to harmony which could serve to open up lines of communication.

I have had rapport with people I did not trust, did not understand, and did not agree with. I can remember, for instance, a professional con artist I knew who fit that category who I genuinely liked.

We openly communicated--and we did business with real dollars. I was unscathed--I think because we had a mutually beneficial objective.

So--we did not have a relationship of rapport by your definition. But the fruits of the relationship were substantially more than nothing. - by Gary Boye
Gary, from your description it appears that you did in fact have a mutual understanding and agreement towards a common objective. Am I reading that wrong?

Agent Smith, perhaps "Vital" is too strong of a word. Might I suggest the word "Important" instead? - by SalesGuy
Good point. Yes--within the context of the specific endeavour, activity, partnership--whatever we would call it- an agreement (noun) and understanding (noun) existed. And--within those boundaries there was probably an element of mutual trust.

However in terms of general attitude towards the man, regardless of the fact that I liked him--I did not trust him as a person, understand the sociopathological behavour that defines a con artist, or agree with him on how we should treat our fellow man.

But your point is well taken. In my mind, I take the rapport (as you describe it) element out of the confines of a specific situation and apply it to my general feelings about a person. I am also aware that my short term relationship with the man put me at risk. Con artists prey on people who think they are smarter than them. - by Gary Boye
I don't like the use of the word "vital" in this instance because it's a strong word that I reserve for other issues in selling that are closer to my heart.

Rapport is important, and SalesGuy chooses a good definition that works for him and I understand his premises I think. I equate it with harmony and open lines of communication. That works for me. Words have different meanings for different people.

There has been both pleasant and heated discussion on this forum regarding the subject of rapport. For those who value other things in selling as more "vital" than rapport, it is easy to unfairly devaluate it as if others were focused on the wrong things.

I keep hearing Jeff's words: "Listen with the intent to understand." - by Gary Boye
Agent Smith, perhaps "Vital" is too strong of a word. Might I suggest the word "Important" instead?
I can agree "vital" wasn't the best or most accurate word choice. "Important" works. :) - by Agent Smith
Rapport, can be defined as a "relation of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people". In any relationship lacking this rapport what do you have? Nothing. ;)
That definition of rapport is ideal. However, that it's very difficult for most salespeople to learn how to do it effetively.

That is only one of several definitions of rapport that are utilized in sales. Unfortunately, most salespeople have learned and believe that rapport is the art of getting prospects to like them and/or to feel comfortable with them. That definition is one that, most often, becomes the art of insincere mental manipulation. - by JacquesWerth
That definition of rapport is ideal. However, that it's very difficult for most salespeople to learn how to do it effetively.
Why do you think that is? - by Agent Smith
Rapport, can be defined as a "relation of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people". In any relationship lacking this rapport what do you have? Nothing. ;)
A post by Jeff caught my eye today. He provided a definition of rapport that he obtained from Google. It said: A relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people.

That is exactly--word for word--the definition you provided. Out of curiosity, I checked my Webster's New World Dictionary. It's definition was brief: sympathetic relationship; harmony.

The use of the word "harmony" corresponds with my definition. That is not to imply that the Webster's definition is the same as mine.

Here is my thought and a query that comes to mine. Let's assume that your definition is not a coincidence--that Google's source is the same as yours--or perhaps Google is your recent source, as it was Jeff's. Then it would be possible that the functional definition you used before you acquired that definition was expressed differently. If that were the case, why wouldn't your own source of knowledge be just as valid and important as the Google source or, in my case, the Webster source?

I mean it as a real question--not rhetoric. However, it would be dishonest if I were to pretend I didn't have a point to make. It is this: The definitions we choose can be arbitrary. They serve our own functional beliefs. It is very possible that when we talk of rapport, we are all looking through different windows of understanding--not necessarily levels of understanding.

That applies to a lot of discussion here. - by Gary Boye
A post by Jeff caught my eye today. He provided a definition of rapport that he obtained from Google. It said: A relationship of mutual understanding or trust and agreement between people.

That is exactly--word for word--the definition you provided. Out of curiosity, I checked my Webster's New World Dictionary. It's definition was brief: sympathetic relationship; harmony.

The use of the word "harmony" corresponds with my definition. That is not to imply that the Webster's definition is the same as mine.

Here is my thought and a query that comes to mine. Let's assume that your definition is not a coincidence--that Google's source is the same as yours--or perhaps Google is your recent source, as it was Jeff's. Then it would be possible that the functional definition you used before you acquired that definition was expressed differently. If that were the case, why wouldn't your own source of knowledge be just as valid and important as the Google source or, in my case, the Webster source?
I too quoted a definition provided by Google. I could have just as easily quoted another source such as the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
RELATION; especially : relation marked by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity
Both definitions correspond to my original understanding of the word, "rapport".

...definitions we choose can be arbitrary. They serve our own functional beliefs.
Agreed.

It is very possible that when we talk of rapport, we are all looking through different windows of understanding--not necessarily levels of understanding.
Different windows (perspective), "Yes".
That applies to a lot of discussion here.
Differences of perspective are quite often the fuel for disputes both large and small. For instance, when one persons asserts his/her perspective to be the one and only truth. This has happens all across the world including this forum. ;) Now when two people share the same perspective, such as the perspective that there is no "one and only" truth, this is another example of "rapport". [Chant along with me: "More rapport less war, more rapport less war" :)]

This line of thinking reminds me of NLP and NeuroSemantics. :D - by SalesGuy
This line of thinking reminds me of NLP and NeuroSemantics. :D
Yep. Reading Mind Lines gets me thinking about these things--and I see examples everwhere and on this forum.

For instance, how we nominalize selling (the verb) into selling (the noun) to create a structure for community. Think for instance the next time a new member posts something like: "Hi and Greetings from TimBukToo. I'm in selling and it's great to be here and rap with others.--Joe Closer"

Has anybody even come close to replying with: "Welcome, Joe. Tell us what you sold (the verb) this week and how you did it."? - by Gary Boye
Has anybody even come close to replying with: "Welcome, Joe. Tell us what you sold (the verb) this week and how you did it."?
Or how about this one, "I'm a ...salesman, marketing rep, etc." :) - by SalesGuy
i agree that it's all in the delivery.
the phrase can be extremely useful when used at the right time of the process.
I'm in the car business and it's a great way to establish a starting point for negotiations. - by jartv
Talk about diggin' into the archives with this two year old thread sn;

IMO, there's nothing wrong with using phrases such as "Where do we need to be in order for us to do business today?" or the truck payment example given in the beginning of this thread.

There's certainly a degree of finesse and proper timing that has to be in place to pull it off.

When I was in car sales, I used both examples many times and sold many cars as a result. - by bluenote
IMO, there's nothing wrong with using phrases such as "Where do we need to be in order for us to do business today?" or the truck payment example given in the beginning of this thread.

There's certainly a degree of finesse and proper timing that has to be in place to pull it off.

When I was in car sales, I used both examples many times and sold many cars as a result.
People say that about almost every sales techique that has ever been used to close a sale. However, if you are like the vast majority of salespeople, you don't know how frequently you used any sales techniques or how they effected your closing rate.

Both of those examples actually work pretty well with, as Bluenote said, "a degree of finesse and proper timing." - by JacquesWerth
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