We fall over one day and realise we’ve broken our arm. We are certain this is the case because of the pain, our friend’s view of the situation and the fact that we shouldn’t have two elbows on the same arm. This prompts us to see the doctor.
“Good morning, what seems to be the trouble?” she says (a nice open-investigating question).
“I think I’ve broken my arm!”
Now imagine the doctor had been reading sales training books. Clearly there is an opportunity for a deal. A problem has been suggested and can soon be turned into a decision by strong benefit statements.
“Oh boy do I have an opportunity for you! What we intend to do is to amputate your left leg and the exciting thing is that I can guarantee a fifty percent drop in sock washing costs!”
There are a couple of sinister flies paddling about in this particular ointment. Firstly the customer was interested in their arm. If all we do are legs, we are a bit stuffed despite our verbal dexterity. Secondly whilst the benefit or even incentive may be a fifty percent reduction in a certain cost, it cannot compensate for the pain and loss of the offered solution. Let’s get back to the real doctor.
“I think I’ve broken my arm.”
This statement must suggest a need, well surely the need must be a treatment for the broken arm, but not so fast. As we may have seen it is never a good idea to offer your solution too fast.
“You think you’ve broken it? How did this happen?”
“I fell over the cat.”
“Really? Pets can cause so much trouble can’t they. When did this happen?”
“About three days ago.”
“And when did it go this colour?”
“Did that hurt?”
“Hmmm, I think you’re right, you may have broken your arm, but just to be sure I’m sending you to the hospital for an Xray. When I get the results back we will decide on the best treatment.”
What you have here is that even when the customer thinks they have identified the problem and the solution they believe they want and need, the skilled practitioner continues with their investigation until the absolutely correct diagnosis and solution are found.
Try to think as a doctor would when you meet your prospects. Have no preconceived ideas of what solutions, products, or services you wish to offer and don’t be mislead by what they initially state that they think they want or need. Patiently take notes and check back on possible grey areas by asking questions. Apart from anything else, it will make you appear important and professional which goes a long way towards persuasion before you even start persuading, if you know what I mean.
Excerpt from Irresistible Persuasion