The Power Words That Give Enormous Persuasive Effect

Sales and Marketing

business guru geoff burch onstage

I will reveal a power word. Its real territory is in negotiating, but it also has quite a bit of clout in the sale. That word is, ‘IF’ and when combined with ‘THEN’ its effects are atomic. It’s like going bear hunting and arriving at a dark cave mouth. You could rush from the sunlight into the blackness with a stick shouting, “Come on bear, if you think you’re hard enough”, a course of action that I would deem foolhardy and potentially fatal in a kind of angry bear-gory sort of way. Personally I would advocate standing well back and throwing in small rocks from a safe distance. ‘If’ and ‘Then’ are just such little rocks that we can toss into the subject’s cave without danger of a terminal outcome. The old pro’s called them ‘trial closes’ but they do all sorts of good things for the persuasion process.

“Can this be delivered by next Tuesday?”  A simple request and may be a buying signal.  A mere mortal may be tempted to say, “Yep!”

That is a wasted opportunity.  Just watch the steely-eyed old professional.

“Tuesday?  If I can get it delivered by Tuesday then could you proceed with the order today?”

This does so many good things I hardly know where to start. First, by using ‘If’ it makes an offer that can be withdrawn without killing the deal. What ‘If’ does is put a condition into place. “I see the price on the windscreen. Can I have a discount?”

“If we arranged a discount, then would you be in a position to purchase this car today?”

“Not today, I have to sell my old car.”

“Then sit down and we will discuss what can be done.”

The discount is off the table with no offence. Simply the customer could honestly not fulfill the conditions. We tend to blunder about offering concessions without conditions.

“What’s the maximum discount?”


“Can you deliver Tuesday?”


“Is there interest free credit?”


“Is there three years free servicing?”


“Ok.  I think that’s all the information I need.  I will get back to you.”

And what’s really annoying is that if after months they do finally decide to buy, they will expect all those concessions to still be on the table. So, always always try and answer a request for a concession with a condition expressed by ‘If’ and ‘Then’.

“Is there three year’s free servicing?”

“If you choose a car today from our current stock, then I believe that offer is still available.  Are you ready to order today?”

The next thing it does in the rock-in the bear-cave thing, is that it can flush out the subject’s true intentions without causing too much upset.

“If we offered as much as 10% discount, then could you proceed today?”

“Well I need authority from my boss.”

Yes, disappointing, but a lot more useful than “Very interested”.

It is also an offer we can withdraw.

“If you want it by Tuesday, then I will need cash up front.”

“No, I don’t think we can do that, we will need to use credit.”

“Then it will probably have to be Wednesday or Thursday.”

It also gets commitment from the subject.

“If we can organize interest-free credit, then could you give me an order?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Ok, let’s get some coffee while we organize the paperwork.”

The danger of it not being a condition can be illustrated with a cheery exercise. During a quiet relaxed moment with a group of work colleagues, say, “Brian, give me your watch” and then remain completely silent with no explanation. When they hand it over (even after some protest or request for reasons which you ignore) which they usually do, just put it in your pocket and carry on with your life. A free watch! People have a weird habit of responding to requests that are made confidently with no conditions.


Sorry Comments are Closed.