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Recommended Persuasion Skills and Techniques

Which persuasion skills or techniques do you recommend salespeople learn and apply when prospecting or selling? - by Community Mailbox
I'm not sure if this is a "serious post" or not, however you need to learn and apply EVERY Skill or Technique available. The more you have available, the better your odds for Success. That includes the Approach, handling Brush Offs, arrousing Interest, Bridging to Qualifying and Qualification Skills, Bridging to the Presentation and making the Presentation (including Step-Up and Add-Ons), handling Objections, Closing, getting Referrals and follow-ups after the Sale. Every Step fits together to make a beautiful Picture.

Have a "FANTA$TIC" Future! - by Stan Billue
I believe the most important skill is the ability to ask high-quality questions. In my experience, most sales people know they should ask questions but the vast majority don't.

Asking the right questions at the right time will help a sales person uncover a person's buying motives, problems, concerns & current situation, eliminate objections, and allow you to properly position your product, service or solution. - by Kelley Robertson
What about persuasion skills and techniques written about by Kenrick Cleveland, Robert Cialdini or this article: Persuasion: The World’s Most Researched Skill - http://www.seventriggers.com/?p=236 - by Community Mailbox
Persuasion starts with your motive to persuade. If your motive is truly to serve and help people, they will get it and you won't have to work so hard. How can I serve? How can I help you? What do you need right now? What are you most frustrated with right now? Most salespeople who struggle with persuasion, haven't quite persuaded themselves of their value yet. The biggee is to connect to your value. When you are convinced. . . it's relatively easy to convince others -- if they have been properly qualified. - by Connie Kadansky
To Kelley,
Why do you think salespeople don't ask questions when they know they should? Is it because they don't know which questions to ask? - by Community Mailbox
I, like Stan, wonder if this is a serious question. If it is, all the above replys have great value. Professional selling is not something we do TO people, it is something we do FOR people.
As Connie said, what is your motivation ... to serve your clients and customers or to make a ton of money without working too hard? When your motivation is right, then, as Stan said, learn everything. Really learn, as in memorize for instant word perfect recall. How would you feel if you needed a major operation and the surgeon 'kinda - sorta' knows what to do? Why should we, as salespeople, believe we can have successful careers when we only 'kinda - sorta' know about persuasion skills and techniques. Find a good source of language for your field, then learn, memorize, practice, drill and rehearse. Know that you know.
To the last question by unregistered guest about which techniques to learn ... it's impossible to give a clear answer without knowing your field of sales, the products or services you sell and the kind of prospects you call on. - by Jerry Bresser
Is this a serious post? Yes. Persuasion skills or techniques are often viewed as manipulative regardless of the practitioners intent or field of sales.

The line between sales being something salespeople do TO people and FOR people will always be blurred because in the final tally the role of the salesperson is to generate business.

A simple example is a salesperson displaying his credentials, affiliations and awards as a recognized expert in plain sight for his customers to see knowing full well the persuasion principle of Authority and the affects it will have in the minds of his customers. Is that manipulative? Yes. Is that doing something TO people? Yes.

There are many persuasion techniques such as reciprocation, consistency, social proof, scarcity, etc. Which of these if any do you recommend salespeople learn and apply when prospecting or selling? - by Community Mailbox
Is this a serious post? Yes. Persuasion skills or techniques are often viewed as manipulative regardless of the practitioners intent or field of sales.

The line between sales being something salespeople do TO people and FOR people will always be blurred because in the final tally the role of the salesperson is to generate business.

A simple example is a salesperson displaying his credentials, affiliations and awards as a recognized expert in plain sight for his customers to see knowing full well the persuasion principle of Authority and the affects it will have in the minds of his customers. Is that manipulative? Yes. Is that doing something TO people? Yes.

There are many persuasion techniques such as reciprocation, consistency, social proof, scarcity, etc. Which of these if any do you recommend salespeople learn and apply when prospecting or selling?
Ok; seems it is a serious question because all of the persuasion techniques you mention in your last paragraph show up in the marketing classic, The Psychology of Influence by Robert Cialdini. It's a national best seller that I am reading for the second time.

I suppose I never considered, until your question, anything but the best of intention for the higher good of all as opposed to something in selling that would only benefit the seller. Persuasion or influence to me means everybody wins. Manipulation doesn't imply an all around win but rather a one way, the seller's win.

But, I like tests - sort of like the ethics tests that corporations like Lockheed Martin and others have. So I searched, "influence versus manipulation" and found The Influencer Blog. What the author, David Maxwell wrote, resonated with me:
"Here is my test for whether a skill is manipulative: “Would it lose its power if people knew exactly what you were doing and why?” If the answer is yes, if the technique loses its power in the light of day, then it’s manipulative and I don’t want any part of it."
The persuasion skills that seem to fit this are questions, listening and rapport first; presentation and all else follow.

In your example, the credentials display, would it pass the Maxwell test? It depends, are the credentials real and what are the intentions of the seller I think. And intention is what I think Connie said - motive. - by patweber
Is this a serious post? Yes. Persuasion skills or techniques are often viewed as manipulative regardless of the practitioners intent or field of sales.

Everything ... and I mean everything ... a salesperson does can be viewed as manipulative if one is intent on finding fault. Leo, my first sales mentor said that the only difference between a con artist and a master salesperson is delivery of the goods.

Most people actually don't like making decisions ... especially decisions that occure infrequently and cost alot or have potential big consequences. Helping them to make a decision in which they will benefit is a good thing to know how to do and to do.

The line between sales being something salespeople do TO people and FOR people will always be blurred because in the final tally the role of the salesperson is to generate business. It's never blurred if you have your prospect's / client's / customer's best interest at heart.

For three consecutive years, one of my graduates, a real estate agent in Aberta, convinced just over 100 home owners a year to list with her - the average agent gets about 12 listings. Every listing sold -- 100%. That's 300 sales out of 300 listings. The local average varies from 45% to 55% of listings sell. Obviously, she is very convincing and very persusaive. Did she to something TO her clients? I think not.

A simple example is a salesperson displaying his credentials, affiliations and awards as a recognized expert in plain sight for his customers to see knowing full well the persuasion principle of Authority and the affects it will have in the minds of his customers. Is that manipulative? Yes. Is that doing something TO people? Yes.

I just returned from my doctors office. Displayed on the wall for all to see are her credentials from medical school and advanced education and degrees from other sources. Was she manipulating me ... or just giving me, and others, assurance that she is qualified?

There are many persuasion techniques such as reciprocation, consistency, social proof, scarcity, etc. Which of these if any do you recommend salespeople learn and apply when prospecting or selling?
None of the above ... until you have mastered the Qualifying process. Ari Gelper would tell you to first find out if there is a fit ... do they have a need that you can fulfil ... can you provide a service ... could you possibly provide a Measurably Superior Service compared to other vendors in your field? My brother would also ask ... do you want the business? He maintains ... and I agree ... not all business is good business. Finally, I agree again with Stan above ... learn EVERY skill or technique available ... then pick the ones you need for this client. Just make sure they will benefit.
Jerry Bresser - by Jerry Bresser
The vast majority of Sales Training is unfortunately manipulative. Transparency, or will the skill (advantage) diminish in the light of day is a great litmus test.

To really understand whether the skill is being used in a manipulative manner would require you to look into the heart of the person using the skill. A person could be building rapport as a precursor to trust, but may be doing it for manipulative purposes (con artists are especially well skilled at this). So the skill isn't really manipulative, but the person is. It's very important to understand the person's intent.

A person of high integrity who really is working for the best interests of his or her client may use a skill that could be perceived as manipulative, but in the hands of this person doesn't come across that way.

Ultimately a prospective client or customer isn't going to trust you until they believe two things about you. The first that you are competent and the second that you are committed to their desired-end-results (they already know that you are committed to your desired-end-results). The only way you can effectively demonstrate both is to ask questions. The deeper the questions, the more likely the customer will move from rapport to trust. All of the previous posts on question asking skills were exceptionally good. If you're not clear what you need to ask and why, I would recommend that you reread those posts and start practicing.

When a prospective customer really belives that you have their best interests at heart, most of the closing skills that are taught are not really necessary. And, if you can't help them, tell them that and find someone who can. They may not become your customer, but you'll have a referral source for life. - by gstebbins
Quote: "Here is my test for whether a skill is manipulative: “Would it lose its power if people knew exactly what you were doing and why?” If the answer is yes, if the technique loses its power in the light of day, then it’s manipulative and I don’t want any part of it."

Under those conditions would you write off questions used to identify or remind a customer of a painful problem with the intention of making the customer more receptive to hearing about a solution? - by Community Mailbox
Quote: For three consecutive years, one of my graduates, a real estate agent in Aberta, convinced just over 100 home owners a year to list with her - the average agent gets about 12 listings. Every listing sold -- 100%. That's 300 sales out of 300 listings. The local average varies from 45% to 55% of listings sell. Obviously, she is very convincing and very persusaive. Did she to something TO her clients? I think not.
Do the ends justify the means? If that agent would not have sold a single listing would your position be different? - by Community Mailbox
The difference between manipulation and persuasion is only semantic. With every interaction between two or more people there is manipulation. Each party has some defined goal (intention) and objective he wishes to achieve, even if that goal is only the expression of his opinion. And even in such events, that expression is only made with the assumption that the hearers will respond positively to that expression.

To state that the term "manipulation" denotes some evil intent is an unfounded assumption. You manipulate. You posted your thread with the hope that others would read it and respond, thus attempting to manipulate their emotions and physical actions. Every action has reason, every interaction has an intent to manipulate.

From a sales perspective, we manipulate... that is what sales are all about. Our goal is to manipulate the emotional responses of a prospect to produce a predefined physical action, the purchase of our product or service. That is what we are paid to do.

The act of manipulation is neither good nor evil, but a natural part of human interaction. How manipulation is used can be defined as good or evil. If we provide a good product or service, the act of sales manipulation is good. If we provide a crappy product or service, the act of manipulation is bad or evil. But notice, it is the quality of the product or service that makes all the difference, not the act of manipulation.

Hope this helps!

The Sales Artist - by The Sales Artist
Quote: The difference between manipulation and persuasion is only semantic. With every interaction between two or more people there is manipulation. Each party has some defined goal (intention) and objective he wishes to achieve, even if that goal is only the expression of his opinion. And even in such events, that expression is only made with the assumption that the hearers will respond positively to that expression.

To state that the term "manipulation" denotes some evil intent is an unfounded assumption. You manipulate. You posted your thread with the hope that others would read it and respond, thus attempting to manipulate their emotions and physical actions. Every action has reason, every interaction has an intent to manipulate.
Thank you for the straight answer. I agree with your post.

I will save my response to asking the right questions at the right time for another thread. - by Community Mailbox
Persuasion starts with your motive to persuade. If your motive is truly to serve and help people, they will get it and you won't have to work so hard. How can I serve? How can I help you? What do you need right now? What are you most frustrated with right now? Most salespeople who struggle with persuasion, haven't quite persuaded themselves of their value yet. The biggee is to connect to your value. When you are convinced. . . it's relatively easy to convince others -- if they have been properly qualified.
This is extraordinary insight and a powerful message.

I will add one thing to the topic of of "persuasion skills". Listening skills have been long recognized as a key ingredient for success. But the ability to show the person in front of you that you are listening is just as important, though rarely discussed. - by Ace Coldiron
I couldn't agree more, Ace. If you want to change someone's mind, you must first seek to understand where their mind is. Asking questions is the only way to do that.

Taking this a step further, showing them you understand where their mind is is one of the best ways to help them remove their guard and actually listen to what you're saying. A collaborative negotiation course will hone these skills.

I also agree that "manipulation" has a negative connotation to it while "pursuasion" doesn't necessarily imply negativity. - by sfrenkel
I couldn't agree more, Ace. If you want to change someone's mind, you must first seek to understand where their mind is. Asking questions is the only way to do that.

Taking this a step further, showing them you understand where their mind is is one of the best ways to help them remove their guard and actually listen to what you're saying. A collaborative negotiation course will hone these skills.

I also agree that "manipulation" has a negative connotation to it while "pursuasion" doesn't necessarily imply negativity.
Sfrenkel, I agree with you. Persuasion is a part of everyday life, both in sales and out of sales:

- I persuade my wife to go to the restaurant I want to go to instead of the one she wants to go to.
- My daughter persuades me to let her have dessert.
- My client persuades me to participate in an online training initiative even though I have suggested a different training approach for their needs.
- An employee persuades his boss to let him take a week off during a busy time of the year.
- A salesperson persuades a prospect to go ahead and try his product even though he's reluctant to do so.

These are not manipulative, evil actions...they are part of everyday life. Persuasive individuals tend to excel in management, in politics, in parenting, in teaching, in medicine, and a host of other fields.

I also agree with Ace that not only is listening important, but displaying a "listening mindset" to the prospect is important, and can help set you apart from your competition.

Cheers...

Skip - by Skip Anderson
If your motive is truly to serve and help people, they will get it and you won't have to work so hard. How can I serve? How can I help you? What do you need right now? What are you most frustrated with right now?
Don't mean to ruffle feathers, but if your primary motive is to serve and help others, work for a charity organization. This view sounds nice but is very Pollyanna in the real world of sales. It totally ignores the harsh business aspect of the profession. Let me explain...

As a salesperson your job is to move product or secure services. It is that simple, that cut-and-dry. If you don't move product, you have no value to the company. Your product hopefully fulfills some need or offers some benefit, so in that sense you are helping someone. But it doesn't go much beyond that, especially if you wish to move to the higher levels of success.

I just posted a thread posing a question on this issue, but I'll go ahead and give a perspective for everyone to consider. Let's assume you sell a good product, but your competitor offers a slightly better one, one that better fulfills the prospect's needs. Do you inform the prospect of this? Recommend your competition? Lose the sale?

Those seeking only to help and serve will be morally obligated to inform the prospect of the competition's better product. If you're product is a small ticket item, perhaps the loss is not big deal... maybe your boss won't know you recommended the competition at the expense of a sale. But if your sale involves 1 million dollars worth of product (and your commission is well into the six-figure range), you will have more of a problem than just your morals. You can't simply let such a deal slip through your fingers as your boss will definitely know if you recommend a competitor's product. The result... you're fired, very quickly and without hesitation.

The simplistic response (and I know someone will make it, so let me address it now) is to just sell the best product. That way you won't have to deal with the moral issue. But again, that is very Pollyanna. Your competition (the one with the best product) may not hire you. So then what? Also, in the real world every company is always improving products. So while today the competitor's product may be the best, tomorrow your product may be. The best value often fluctuates from company to company over time.

My point is simply this, I agree that one should sell a good product or service. But one will always be faced with times when their product or service is not equal to others that are available and that's when this Pollyanna view of sales completely breaks down. If a primary motivation is limited to the service of others, one will be out of a sales positions fairly quickly. Perhaps that is an acceptable conclusion for some, so be it. Longevity and real success will only be achieved by those who are driven by a love of the profession itself, those who thrive off the challenge of persuading.

The hard, cold facts of real world sales is that if you can't sell a second best product or service, you shouldn't be in the profession. And you can't sell the second best while at the same time being motivated primarily by a desire to serve and help others.

This is an often unspoken dirty truth of the business, but I feel that we should be honest and accurate so that others will respect what we say. I'm sorry Connie, I mean no disrespect to you at all. But I do believe your posted view does not reflect the real world of this profession, especially when one moves into the higher levels of the business where there is not only a lot of money dependent on each sale, but the jobs and incomes of many families. In the real world, it is move product or move out.

Ok, I'm ready... go ahead and let the bashing begin. But deep down, even if you dare not admit it... you know I'm right. ;sm - by The Sales Artist
I'm sorry Connie, I mean no disrespect to you at all. But I do believe your posted view does not reflect the real world of this profession, especially when one moves into the higher levels of the business where there is not only a lot of money dependent on each sale, but the jobs and incomes of many families. In the real world, it is move product or move out.

Ok, I'm ready... go ahead and let the bashing begin. But deep down, even if you dare not admit it... you know I'm right. ;sm
OK, fair enough--I'll start.

In my view the "real world of this profession" is whatever I choose to make it. That said, I'll take responsibility for my results. So far so good. I share much of the viewpoint that Connie has expressed. Put in my own words I will say that I maintain a powerful intention to serve a customer's best interests. Put in still another person's words, "Serve first. The compensation will take care of itself." - by Ace Coldiron
I think your first sentence sums it up.

Clichés are nice and many summarize real life principles... but not always. It is easy to speak in generalities and clichés while not addressing a specific situation. So I ask you... you're sitting in front of a prospect and this is a million dollar + deal. You know your superiors and many company employees are dependent upon this deal, it will mean a lot to the financial health of your company as well as yourself. BUT... you are also aware that your competitor has a model that would better fit this prospect's needs.

What do you do?

Do you reveal the truth and recommend your competitor, risking almost certain job loss for you and possibly others (and understanding that it will be difficult for other to hire you when they are informed that you refused to sell the product you were hired to sell)? Do you attempt to find some features and benefits that might give the perception that your product is actually the better one, knowing that it actually isn't?

I just find it interesting that many salespeople tout the high morality of the sales profession. Don't get me wrong, this is a great job and profession. But the standards of extreme morality only seem to work when one is fully convinced that one is selling the best product possible. And the reality of business is that often we don't have the luxery of having the absolute best. And when one is in a position of selling the second or third best product for a given situation, one must make a choice of morality vs sales. And I'm curious exactly how each person would react in such a situation. So again, stop the clichés of how every sale is positive transaction for your prospect and address a very real life scenario.

Such scenarios illustrate my point that if one is to progress to the higher levels of sales, one will need to have more "flexible" morals. You can't lose one high paying job because you refused to make the sell and expect to be hired into another high paying job.

Perhaps my view is more realistic... and perhaps it is a bit much to expect that in others? - by The Sales Artist
Perhaps my view is more realistic... and perhaps it is a bit much to expect that in others?
And perhaps neither of the above.

First, this not a discussion of morals no matter how many times you want to use the word. If you want the right word, it's Integrity.

If I entered a selling situation so unprepared with the right solution that I had to lie to make a sale, I could count that as two flaws. But I do everything possible to keep the former at a minimum, and the latter nonexistant.

For anybody that truly understands this issue, Integrity is a weapon--hardly Pollyannish, my friend. It's absolute dynamite when combined with a brass tacks attitude. I have chosen to never compromise my personal integrity to make a sale.

Put in those terms, and discarding that highly subjective and relative word, "morality", if only for the moment, let me pose the following question to you.

Would you compromise your personal integrity to make a sale? It's a yes or no question. - by Ace Coldiron
Sales Artist - I think you are right - the world is far greyer and complex than we would like.

The modern trend in sales training is to say "do what's right for the customer and it will pay off for you in the long term" - but sadly that's not always true - as your example highlights.

I like to think that there's a minimum baseline for morality (or integrity or whatever we want to call it): You shouldn't sell something to someone that they don't need or won't work for them. Shame on you if you do this.

But above that? Should we always - as some are advocating - recommend a competitor's product over ours if we believe it is "better" for the customer? I think that's a choice for the individual. I wouldn't label someone as immoral if they didn't do it.

After all, it's rarely that simple. How do you know it's really better - you're not the customer - you don't know what they really need. Is it really your job to sell for the competitor - if they fail to promote their product properly that's their problem isn't it - as long as you don't misrepresent your product. etc. etc.

Luckily - certainly for me - the scenario you paint is very rare. In my business I can afford to give up an individual project and pass it to a more suitable competitor - knowing that the increased trust that builds with the client will probably pay off for me in the long term. And if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world for me.

But I do realise that's not always the case. Would I recommend a slightly more suitable competitor for a multi-million contract where my job depended on it? I just don't know. If the welfare of my wife and kids were linked in, and I knew my product would be a great solution anyway and the competitors only slightly better - then I probably wouldn't recommend the competitors. Does that make me immoral? I hope not. I would feel a pang of guilt - but then work to make my solution better than the competitors through great implementation.

And of course, the fact that we know our products so much better than our competitors and that (often through cognitive dissonance) we teach ourselves to believe they are better means that the situations when we believe our product is superior are probably more numerous than when it actually is.

It's a tough one.

But I believe that for most salespople, most of the time, putting the customer (and, for example, recommending a competitor) first pays off.

But I do understand that it's not always the case - and I'm thankful I don't often have to deal with those situations.

Ian - by ianbrodie
But above that? Should we always - as some are advocating - recommend a competitor's product over ours if we believe it is "better" for the customer?
Ian
Ian, your post is well presented and I respect it. But I want to point something out. Nobody on this entire thread has advocated what you say they are advocating. It was introduced by Sales Artist as an example of something he keeps referring to as moral and that he would refrain from doing. I don't equate recommending a competitor as moral, amoral, immoral, honest, dishonest, Pollyannish, or overly altruistic. I equate it with spending my time doing another person's work. To imply that anybody on this thread wants to sell a competitor's product, when nobody here has said that, falls short of being meaningful in this discussion of Recommended Persuasion Skills and Techniques. - by Ace Coldiron
Ace,

Perhaps my point was exaggerated - but I don't think by much.

What people were definitely advocating was "putting the customer's interests first - above our own - and it will pay off in the long term"

Sales Artist's deduction from that was that if they really meant it, they would recommend a competitors product over their own.

After all, if that's not something you would do - if that's something you consider Pollyanna-ish - then logically, "putting the customer's interests first" - if you always do it - must be Polyanna-ish too. Conversely - if you always put the customers interests first, that means you must always recommend a competitors products over yours if they are better. If you don't then you're not putting the customer's interests first.

That's the paradox I believe SA is trying to highlight. We often say that we "always put the customer's interests first". But actually we only do so under restricted conditions. We don't always really live it. We live a restricted definition of it which matches our own interests. Yet we talk as if we always do it - which means we can lose out on learnings because we're kidding ourselves.

Personally I often do recommend competitor's products over my own. Since I sell my own consulting services I am very close to my clients. They are more like friends and I feel it's my duty to act in their interests. And I know by experience that this helps me over the long term. They trust me more and so I get more business from them. So I don't consider it Polyanna-ish or "working for my competitor" at all - it help me. But I also recognise that works for me may not work in other circumstances - or even always for me.

But going back to SAs point - I believe he's arguing against the use of generalities here - and I think he has a point.

Ian - by ianbrodie
Ian gets my point exactly. Different types of sales can require different sets of moral parameters. Ian can afford to refer customers to competitors because the same treatment will be returned to him. There is a balancing effect. In that sales environment, one can fairly easily tout the cliche of putting the customer first... there are little if no adverse consequences.

But change the situation and it becomes a far more difficult issue. The example of big sale where much more than just a small commission is at stake illustrates this. If the salesperson puts the customer first, he loses his job, probably won't be hired at a major firm and many employees lose their jobs because of his moral stance, suddenly the ole cliche doesn't hold true. And these situations occur everyday, they are not far fetched illustrations.

I brought this up only because I have read so many posts where this optimistic view is presented as the answer of almost every sales problem. I thought someone should at least interject a sense of realism into this "Pollyanna" view of sales. Sales is a business, often hard, cold and cut-throat... especially when you are talking about a million dollar + contract on each deal.

Quote: "Would you compromise your personal integrity to make a sale? It's a yes or no question."

Ace, I was wondering exactly how long it would take before you turned the question on me... lol.

I do see a difference in integrity and morality, as you put it. In my view, I maintain my integrity as long as I accurately present the benefits and features of my product, not making exaggerated claims or promises that can't be kept. As long as I truthfully and accurately represent my product, I have my integrity.

But am I obligated to inform the prospect of all my knowledge of my competitor? That is the nub of the issue. Am I obligated to inform my prospect that my competitor has a better product, one that would better fit his needs?

If my first priority is to the customer, as many here seem to proclaim, then I would be morally obligated to provide the prospect with all my knowledge related to his problem and any potential solution. I would be obligated to inform him.

But my first priority is NOT to the customer. And that is the main point I have been trying to get across. No matter what we say or how morally righteous we want to portray ourselves, the customer is not first when it comes to the real world of business.

My first priority is to myself and my family. Regardless of what happens to the customer or even to my own company, I am first responsible for the survival and protection of myself and my family. And a sale provides those necessities.

My second responsibility rests with my company. The company has hired me to represent them and act in a manner that is in the best interest of the company, NOT the customer. If the company had not hired me, I would not be sitting in front of that customer in the first place. I work for the company, not the customer, and my loyalty goes to the company above the customer.

My third responsibility goes to the customer. The customer's interest comes behind that of myself and my company.

So would I inform the prospect of my competitor's better product? Absolutely not. Such an action would be against my own interest and that of my company, both who hold greater moral priority.

But at the same time, I do not believe I have compromised my integrity. I have not misrepresented any aspect of my product, which for me is where the issue of integrity rests.

As Ian so correctly pointed out, my concern is the way such moral generalities have been posted over and over with seemingly little thought given to real world application. I believe it is done because those giving such generalities are in a sales situation where the hard and difficult choices are never, or very rarely, confronted.

Ace, you're a good man with a good heart. But I noticed you still failed to answer the question when given a specific scenario. You said that you wouldn't enter a sales situation unprepared with the right solution, and that is admirable. But my scenario, one that occurs everyday, is one where your best possible solution is less than the solution your competitor can offer. No amount of preparation can change the product itself, so it is independent upon preparation.

I think if you will carefully consider my answer (self, company, customer), even though it may be distasteful at first, you'll find it is logical, moral and practical. If you attempt to change the order of these priorities, you will find situations where you will lose much more than you're willing to wager. - by The Sales Artist
Sales Artist, my entire message on still centers around the question: ""Would you compromise your personal integrity to make a sale?" In my case I would not. Although you are painting some scenarios and drawing some perhaps hasty conclusions about what others would do, and about what others are thinking, I believe I was able to decipher that your answer would be no. I also believe that is a decision that will serve you well, no matter where you draw your priorities. - by Ace Coldiron
Ace:

You're a nice guy with good intentions. But there is a level of game (this business of sales) which many here have never experienced and probably would prefer to believe doesn't exist. It is certain that most would not survive in it.

When one is dealing in multi-million dollar deals, the major priority is to get the deal done successfully. Rest assured that my team would not only do research on my prospect and his situational needs, but my competition's product... as well as my competition (competitor profiles). Your admirable strong feelings of Integrity are a weakness that would definitely be used against you (and I won't detail how... trade secrets). There would be as much action behind the scenes (if not more action) than what occurs in meetings with the prospect. My focus is not only on selling my product, but making sure you don't sell yours.

Yes I know... it isn't a nice or pretty game. But then again, it isn't a game at all. It is business, plain and simple. Big business at that. Cold-blooded and cut-throat. You talked about being prepared and that is good. But your view of the business aspect of the profession indicates, to me at least, there are levels of preparation you have never had to confront.

Maybe it is because I am very well aware of this side of the business that I was prompted to respond. I wanted to simply point out the fact that if your main priority is not to make the sale, there are levels of this profession which you can't engage successfully. And I don't suggest that you even have a desire to do so (you probably don't)... and that's just fine as well. But before we so casually make cliches such as "put the customer first" and "the customer is always right", we need to realize that such generalizations don't apply to every aspect of the profession. Maybe it does where you're at and for what you sell... but I can quickly put you into a situation where a such a view will quickly result in your demise.

When it comes to a 100 million dollar deal, while you're working hard to please the customer, my team is not only working on specific tactics to sell the prospect, but working hard to undermine and destroy you. It is a whole different mind-set, one of fierce competition. I'm not saying it is right or wrong... only that it is reality.

and P.S.
The answer to your question is no, I never compromise my integrity. I represent my product accurately. I also represent my competition accurately... just not fully. - by The Sales Artist
I'm truly humbled. - by Ace Coldiron
I just find it interesting that many salespeople tout the high morality of the sales profession. Don't get me wrong, this is a great job and profession. But the standards of extreme morality only seem to work when one is fully convinced that one is selling the best product possible. And the reality of business is that often we don't have the luxery of having the absolute best. And when one is in a position of selling the second or third best product for a given situation, one must make a choice of morality vs sales. And I'm curious exactly how each person would react in such a situation.
You almost never sell the best product. Even if it is so, it will fluctuate as time goes by.

It is absolutely sufficient to be among the best to statisfy the requirements of professional integrity. Whether you recommend your compeitior is not and either/or decision but one of degrees.

With your rising conviction that you will make the customer happy in the long run you should increase the level of effort to sell. The more you see that your competitor will fulfill his needs better then you, the more an recommendation for the competitor is indicated. In this case you should make clear what you have done for the customer (provided an excellent consultation) and ask for a referral. In the long run you will build the necessary reputation to make more sales the honest way.

BTW, if customers don't live in a dream world they expect you to be slightly manipulative even if not being the absolutely best option in the market. They see mutual persuasion as much as a game as a professional rep does. Since customers have the ultimate power in the sale, I wouldn't be too concerned about doing what the customer expects anyway and what I am being paid for. - by Alexander
Depends on the sophistication level of your prospect and also your own consciousness level. Many prospects know when a salesperson is practicing a technique. Develop the skill of being genuine and be more caring about providing the right solution to your prospect than whether you land the business. Detach from the outcome and your sincerity alone can possibly "persuade" them. - by Connie Kadansky
Depends on the sophistication level of your prospect and also your own consciousness level. Many prospects know when a salesperson is practicing a technique.
Many sales techniques have to rely on their invisibility to the customer. That rises the philosophical question whether something as "exploitation" by superior bargaining power or knowledge exists and whether it is legitimate within the framework of a free market economy. Perhaps one has to make it depend on the outcome for the target. Does it increase or decrease its eudaimonia?


Develop the skill of being genuine and be more caring about providing the right solution to your prospect than whether you land the business. Detach from the outcome and your sincerity alone can possibly "persuade" them.
This mindset makes it much harder for a SR to close a sufficient number of deals. And I'm not sure it pays to relinquish all modern sales psychology has to offer just to be sincere. No salesperson (or other professional for that matter) in his right mind would stop learning more about his profession and switch to "just doing." Selling without theory is working harder instead of smarter. Confronting rookies without proper training with buyers is a cruel waste of human talent. - by Alexander
Confronting rookies without proper training with buyers is a cruel waste of human talent.
You're right. Certainly that plays into the mix.

Connie's concept works. Actually it works for some people. I rate it as "advanced". It is not perfect any more than any idea or methodology in sales can be perfect. It would in my opinion be next to impossible to effectively utilize her concept among rookies for reasons that have been covered in your post.

I like her concept because I relate to it. I sell in a similar way. And doing so, I can perceive and understand it better than most. - by Ace Coldiron
Connie's concept works. [...]

I like her concept because I relate to it. I sell in a similar way. And doing so, I can perceive and understand it better than most.
I don't understand. What concept?

From what I've seen from her is that she offers the Sales Call Reluctance Training by Dudley and Goodson. That's not a selling methodology.

In fact, it seems to take all fun out of selling and put the SR under enormous pressure to conform. That may rise productivity short term, but I wonder how many salespeople quit after being through that kind of treatment.

As I can remember from reading, Dudley and Goodson are recommending The Best Seller by Forbes D. Ley from 1984 as sales methodology. A rather outdated concept from someone who considers himself being a scientist. Perhaps they are scared being identified as Over-Preparer and sometime in the 1980s simply stoped learning smarter ways to sell. - by Alexander
Interesting assumptions being made here! Assumptions, from my perspective, are the biggest barrier to communications. How well do assumptions play in the selling world? :cu - by Connie Kadansky
I don't understand. What concept?
I referred to "understanding" when I said "I sell in a similar way. And doing so, I can perceive and understand it better than most."

If you don't use and relate to her "concept" you might be hardpressed to understand.

I am familiar with Dudley and Goodson's work. That is a huge assumption on your part to say that Connie offers that training. You might see a congruence or perceive a compatibility, but I think she is in a better position to tell what she teaches. - by Ace Coldiron
Interesting assumptions being made here! Assumptions, from my perspective, are the biggest barrier to communications. How well do assumptions play in the selling world? :cu
The answer to this question, which I believe is one of he best I have ever seen on this forum, certainly in some time (though I don't read through the whole site ever - probably missed other great motivating questions like this one!), from almost everyone will be either opinion or 2nd hand information.

In 30 years within the sales training industry, while keeping a sales position all the while (I prefer selling to training) I have "charted" sales calls - been the fly on the wall, quite a few more than a hundred occasions (never kept numbers!).

I do know what many sales people have never been able to prove - and argue that on a call, though you are learning all the time, you miss various things as you are busy focusing on the prospect and what you are doing.

However, even my experience pales in comparison to what has been done in Huthwaite and Xerox.

In other words, I agree with the word assumptions.

There really is no black and white. In dealing with some prospects I have been put into various situations that I would prefer not to have to experience. This is just life - it happens in your personal life too (eventually).

I love the quote (though I profess to not remembering the source); "If you live long enough, it will all happen to you!" Yes, you will get slimmed out there but it is an occasional experience … buyers get slimmed too and everyone has met a sales person that gives our profession a bad name – these are all things everyone lives with.

There are various skills that no sales person can do without, that every buyer expects, such as PROBING (simply asking questions). Knowing which type of question to ask and being able to do that effectively at the right time, while it is a basic skill level, it is not practiced enough in training.

Every successful company should regularly have sessions that practice the basics, no matter how successful you are as an individual (or their team is). In other words; don't bring in a trainer once a year and never review the learned skills, they will be lost and bad habits do creep back in.

CLOSING can be a simple or advanced skill-set.

Understanding and dealing with various attitudes can also be either.

Complex negotiations are advanced, obviously. Not all products or services required this level of complexity.

I could go on but my answer to this POST-ed thread is I recommend BASIC SKILLS, I further recommend skill review and practice on a regular basis and, lastly, I recommend advanced skill training ONLY to those with the experience and basic training under their belt or the need for such training.

But for Connie, I strongly suggest that what any sales person assumes cannot be effective or useful until confirmed by a question or series of questions (PROBES). Until the prospect agrees to your assumption, better still speaks the need in their own words, this ... what you assume ... is not the foundation n for closing a sale.

I do not agree that "assumptions are a barrier to communication" unless the sales professional is not a pro but an armature. Meaning they do not confirm with the prospect what they believe to be true about what the prospect thinks.

The issue of the prospect knowing our technique(s) and being more caring is one that misses the truth, again … and this is uncommon or 'makes good sense' (rather than the common variety). Suggesting that a TECHNIQUE means we are uncaring is like trying to say that caring and skills are separate things, that they are mutually exclusive - can't they exist together?

They do, depending on the rep, and I know that to be true because I give a crap about the people I sell too and use skills at the same time.

Buyers know more ... they know what we are doing ... yah? How about a sophisticated person can sense when we don't care. That they expect us to HELP them which means that if we have information that would change their feeling/decision/focus ... they certainly do want us to share it with them.

Damn ... how did a large portion of the selling profession take what passes as common sense and then step back to before World War II in terms of what is known and excepted? By assuming rather than proving is the first part of the answer to this – my own posted question - but it is meant to be rhetorical in nature, isn't it? Shouldn't we all know better by now? Why don't we ??????????????????

We KNOW that you can both care and ask a question or redirect conversation (if you prefer to use this phrase) and certainly ask for an order. We KNOW that once we have proven it to a buyer that what we have will benefit them that we have an expectation to get the business and should be able to ask for confirmation that we have it.

Let's cut through the B.S. here.

Selling is about being a great communicator. The buyer needs us to be as good as we can be in order to help them, that does not mean they will not be skeptical or raise an objection.

OUT OF DATE techniques ... where did this silly notion come from? All I can say is; there must have been some serious bad sales training out there I am unaware of – while I was missing from the training world for a dozen or so years - to cause anyone to suggest this; "that doesn't work any longer!"

Everything that ever worked in communications still does. The human animal and our affliction (condition) is pretty much as it was 3,000 years ago. People aren't that different. If you think otherwise you are fooling yourself into believing that we are more important, more apt to understand what the generation before did not, as if we - in this final generation in time - suddenly tripped over what the last 99 generations did not.

Sounds a wee bit egotistical to me, what about you?

Just because a BUYER KNOWS MORE does not mean they cannot misunderstand. If there was a way for them to totally get everything from the Internet sales people would have disappeared already. Since that has not happened since 1995, when the WWW really started taking off, now 13 years ago, “it ain’t ever gonna happen!”

Awesome profession? You bet. Would I do anything else? No way. The very fact that what we do is so misunderstood proves that there is room within our profession for those of us who get it to excel, even beyond our wildest expectations.

Best of luck always! - by Gold Calling
I do not agree that "assumptions are a barrier to communication" unless the sales professional is not a pro but an armature (sic). Meaning they do not confirm with the prospect what they believe to be true about what the prospect thinks.
Super point!

Those words should be read and read and assimilated--and UNDERSTOOD-- by anyone who wants to advance in the sales profession.

It pertains to much more than just selling. - by Ace Coldiron
To be influential in selling, you must seek to understand someone and move into a state of total acceptance with them. As you do that you will gain deep knowledge of their desires. Now you have the capacity to advise them powerfully. - by MatthewFerry
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