A Salesperson's Best Friend

Aug 20, 2014

By Mike Pallin, Floyd Wickman Master Trainer and Floyd Wickman Team President 


There are two times when a planned, memorized and rehearsed set of words are a salesperson’s best friend – at the opening of a presentation, and at the signature close. 

Floyd taught us dialogue for both of those times, and they are brilliant words. Easy to learn. Easy to make sound natural. And absolutely effective in getting a presentation off to a good start, or ending a presentation with a pressure-free request for a signature. 

Don’t let the phrase “planned, memorized and rehearsed” scare you off. The opening dialogue is nothing more or less than a simple question, but it is so well thought out and psychologically sound that it has helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople feel in positive control right from the start. 

Positive control isn’t about manipulating other people, it’s about establishing your inner confidence. A listing (or sales) presentation doesn’t have to be artificial or mechanical, and this one simple question at the beginning will set the stage for you to sound competent, confident and natural.  

Even more importantly, this dialogue helps you feel relaxed. Instead of having to think about what you are going to say next, a planned opening allows you the luxury of paying attention to your clients and their responses. 

Whether you are face to face at the kitchen table, on a web-based presentation platform, or on something like Skype or face time, the start of your presentation is not the time to ad lib and improvise. People want to know that you are organized and that you respect their time enough to come prepared.  

Once you have broken the ice, here’s what Floyd taught us to say:  

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, before we begin, may I show you how I work?” 

Let’s take a look at this dialogue part by part. 

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller,” 

OK, you know that doesn’t mean you should actually say, “Mr. and Mrs. Seller.” It means use their names. Using their names gets their attention. It signals a beginning. It is the sweetest sound to them. 

“…before we begin…” 

When you use their names, there is an immediate and instinctive reaction. They are on alert. Something’s coming. Be on guard. The phrase, “before we begin” takes the fear out of this response.

F.E.A.R. It’s that old acronym. False Expectations Appearing Real. There is a wall of fear between you and them. They don’t know what is going to happen, and so they don’t know what to expect. Imaginations can run wild. 

We are hard-wired as a society to instinctively keep salespeople at arms length. Why? Because we have been manipulated in the past. Because we have been disappointed by a product or service we have been sold. 

Using their names first gets their attention. Following it with, “before we begin…” lowers any automatic defensiveness. You are literally saying, “Relax, folks. It’s OK. We haven’t started yet.” 

“…may I…” 

This phrase transforms the dialogue into a permission question. By asking if you may, you are sharing control. You are displaying good manners. Respect. Civility. You are a guest in their home, and good manners will go a long way to differentiating you from every other single salesperson they have encountered.

“…show you…”

Notice it’s not, “tell you,” but rather, “show you.” A visual aid makes it easier for them to follow and understand. Seeing is believing.

“…how I work…” 

You are about to show them a step-by-step procedure that you follow whenever you meet with a client. You are about to explain your objectives; what you would like to accomplish. This will put their fears to rest. They will feel like they are in good hands, because you have a plan. You are being, in so many words, likeably businesslike. 

It might be fashionable to think that shooting from the hip, or ad libbing your words differently every time is more authentic. Or to think that you can win the listing on your personality and natural charisma alone.  

If you have that kind of gift, more power to you. For most of us in selling, it’s important to think about what we want to accomplish, select our words carefully, practice them until they flow, and then be consistent. 

If any dialogue or technique stops working for you, change it up. But become consistent with it first. Remember, “You can’t fine tune anything until it is first consistent.”


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