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Sales Tip: It Pays to Act Dumb


The Professional Does What He Does as a Dummy - On Purpose

Ever been in the thralls of a discovery meeting and you catch yourself filling those awkward silences with something even more awkward? ...I know I've been there.

What about when we're asked a tough question by our prospect? We may know the answer, but immediately react without pausing to clarify the reasoning behind their question.

When we are thinking about our thoughts, we ought to ask ourselves - Where is that even coming from? What do they really mean? Or why are they asking me that?

To be a Professional Dummy means to keep our mouth shut - on purpose. Before answering our prospect's questions, it's ok to ask if they can help clarify the intent and purpose of their inquiries. When used appropriately it can create unique clarity between us and our potential candidate.

We have now put ourselves in a position where we begin to defend, justify and explain. Don’t worry, most of us fall into this trap - after all, as I said earlier, it is human behavior.

Gain as much insight as humanly possible.

How does a great doctor diagnose our ailments? Typically, doctors are some of the best "answer questions with appropriate questions" on the planet. Only once the practitioner feels they have sufficient insight into your pain will they recommend you a proper course of treatment.

Let's pretend I went to a doctor because of a pain in my left knee. Maybe I suspect I tore something? What if my doctor simply accepted my amateur diagnosis and just scheduled a surgery? Anyone in their right mind would have to question that professional tactic. Before my doctor recommends a proper solution, he must "dummy up" and ask a targeted set of questions that will help uncover the best course of action.

My purpose is to help shift your mindset and give you the tools to be a Doctor of Sales.

How can we relate this idea to our current behavior and weave it into our future sales process?

This is how it shows up in my world. Sometimes prospects say things like - "I have to tell you, your price is too high!"

**My instinct is to immediately defend why our price deserves to be as high as it is; justify excellent quality, superior service, and explain all the reasons why we deserve to charge the price we do...

What if I simply paused, made a bold "professional-dummy move" and asked the prospect - "That's interesting, does this mean it is over?" (I must wait out the silence - if I talk it will be over!)

Once the prospect gives an answer, I can again take a second to respond rather than just react and put my Sales Doctor hat on to gain further insight.

It's always appropriate to ask a targeted set of questions in order to clarify our next steps - even if that means it really is over!

Getting an affirmation of "No" now is more effective (and less painful) than a long & frustrating "I'll think it over, send me a proposal." We must professionally forget what we know right now in order to learn what the prospect's underlying intentions are.

We've been taught since grade school to raise our hand and answer a question when we know the answer. So, I can understand this philosophy might sound counter-intuitive at first. At the same time, this is business, where if we answer too hastily, we can blow a possible deal simply by answering the question in the wrong way - even if our information is correct.

Jim Wilcox

Jim Wilcox

Owner, Sandler by Wilcox & Associates