Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.

passport control officer

I just returned from a speaking engagement in Athens and had to stop at passport control several times during this trip. They always ask, “What kind of business?” and over the years I’ve used them all: consulting, speaking, training, business adviser, author, coaching, etc.  I’ve learned that if I wantto be interrogated, “speaker” would be the answer of choice.  If I simply want to answer a few questions, “consultant” will do the trick.  But to elicit the desired yawn from the officers, I only need to say “attend a conference.”  Words make a huge difference and if you like scripts, you’ll be disappointed.  But a well-chosen word or phrase at just the right time can be the difference between a resistant prospect and an intrigued one.  Do you pay enough attention to the things you do and say as well as how you say them just before a prospect becomes resistant or more engaged?  Well, you should!

Selling is about having a conversation.  Not just any conversation, but one where a prospect recognizes that you are different from everyone else.  You ask better questions.  You aren’t afraid of difficult topics.  You can gently push back and challenge.  You know your stuff as evidenced by the questions you’re asking.  Make no mistake.  It’s a conversation, not 50 questions.  And it’s a good conversation, with you encouraging your prospect to share their opportunities, issues and feelings until you’ve identified something compelling, something that will create urgency, something that would cause them to not only spend their money, but spend it with you.

When we train sales organizations, there may be only 6 times in the entire sales process when we want salespeople to use specific words or phrases, but they occur at times when the use of less desirable words simply won’t obtain the desired result:

  1. The positioning statement and examples you provide to a cold prospect to get them engaged,
  2. Quantifying and justifying questions,
  3. The powerful price-busting question that gets your prospect to buy from you even when your competition has lower prices,
  4. The powerful timeline question that shortens your sales cycle,
  5. The navigation question that short circuits the decision making process, and
  6. The comfortable close where it isn’t obvious to your prospect that you are closing them.
On your next sales call, pay more attention to what engages, encourages and comforts your prospects, along with what causes them to clam up, become resistant and lose interest.  That can be very effective self-training.

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