I heard a short story about an elderly married couple who were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They began as childhood sweethearts and after marrying, never left their old neighborhood. They decided to walk down the street to the old school they attended together so many years ago. There, holding hands, they found the old desk they’d shared and where he had carved, “I love you, Sally.”

As they walked back home, an armored vehicle turned the corner in front of them and a bag of money fell out, practically landing at their feet. The truck never even slowed down, so Sally, not knowing what to do, picked up the bag and they took it home.

She opened the bag and counted fifty thousand dollars! Her husband told her they had to give it back, but she said, “Finders keepers” and hid it in the attic.

Truth and Nothing ButThe next day, two FBI agents began to canvass the neighborhood looking for the money. They showed up at their home asking, “Did either of you find a bag of money that fell out of an armored vehicle yesterday?” She immediately spoke up saying, “No.” The husband said, “She’s lying. She hid it up in the attic.”

She responded, “Don’t believe him, he’s getting senile.” But the agents sat the man down and begin to question him, saying, “Tell us the story from the beginning.” The old man said, “Well, when Sally and I were walking home from school yesterday…”

One agent looked at his partner and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

Have you ever noticed that folks are not always honest and upfront with you? If you’re like most people you really don’t know what to do when that occurs. When this happens to salespeople, instead of confronting prospects, they take what is said and do their best to work around it; even though they know that the prospect didn’t tell them everything.

Most salespeople feel a little weird when they face this situation, because they can’t just tell the prospect they think she’s lying or withholding information. That won’t move your trust meter needle to the right, and frankly will probably kill any chance of selling to her.

When prospects stop returning your calls, seem reluctant to meet with you again, verbally say “yes”, but refuse to take a next step, there is a good chance they aren’t telling you everything.

The best way to determine what’s really going on is to use the same sensual process of elimination you must use to find needs and wants. Trust and listen to your instincts, remembering that sometimes the real issue can be two or three questions deep. For example:

You: “Ms. Gruber, during our initial meeting while I was presenting my service to you I felt that you saw some advantages that you aren’t currently receiving from your current provider, right?”

Gruber: “Yes. I definitely saw some upside.”

You: “Well, we’ve been attempting to get back together ever since to discuss what would need to happen next, but it seems that something always gets in the way of our meeting. I know you’re super busy, but I’m sensing there’s something else going on that’s a roadblock to us working together; is that true?”

Gruber: “Well, actually… I had a bad experience with another vendor in your sector and…”

TruthWho knows for sure; maybe she didn’t want to admit inadequate funding, or that she isn’t the sole decision maker, or has already decided to go with someone else, or wasn’t wowed by me to the point of making this purchase a priority, etc. The only way you will know for sure is to dig deeper by probing.

It’s important to notice that the question the salesperson asked in the example above doesn’t cast blame on the buyer or put her on the defensive at all. He simply stated, “I’m sensing there’s something else going on,” which makes it about him and acknowledges his feelings. All he did then was to ask the prospect to confirm or deny the validity of his feeling. This approach doesn’t paint the prospect into a corner, but keeps the door open and the atmosphere positive. Give it a try and see for yourself.

Would you Speak Your Mind and share a comment below about an experience with a prospect like this?

Have you started using Doug’s Study Guide along with his book, Sell is NOT a Four Letter Word for your weekly sales meetings? If not, take a free look here. Doug provides FREE SHIPPING to everywhere in the US on everything from his website.

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