Exactly what to say summary

Exactly what to say

Book: Exactly what to say by Phil M. Jones

23 short sentences to use in sales and improve your odds to get closer to a sale.

Plenty of tricks for face-to-face or phone contexts, but to be used carefully if you don’t want to sound like a pushy salesman. However, there is no magic, it requires a lot of practice to be able to come up with these lines naturally in the dynamic of the conversation without thinking.

Main ideas:

Getting over the fear of rejection

  • “I’m not sure if it’s for you but”. Starting with this remove any risk of rejection, the main fear that prevents us to sell, and, therefore, we can start selling all the time to everyone that is more or less the target.
  • “Would you be open-minded about ___” Nobody wants to see themselves as close-minded. That improves the chance of getting a yes if the proposition is not excessive.

Bringing a positive dynamic

  • “The good news”. Switch the conversation from a negative mood to a positive one.
  • “I’m guessing you haven’t got around to” (looking over some documents, setting a date, making a decision..). This pushes the brain to counter-react.
  • “I bet you’re a bit like me, you are/enjoy/hate”. You can check their non-verbal reaction to confirm if they agree or not.

Exploring scenarios

  • If/then. You can explore many hypothetical scenarios while staying credible.
  • “How would you feel if”. Force them to project emotionally in a better or worse hypothetical scenario, to make them feel what your product can bring them emotionally.
  • “Just imagine”. Same as the previous one, but only for positive scenarios.
  • “If I can ___, will you ____”. Exploring options to find agreement, without any obligation on your side.

Gently pushing

  • “Most people”. In many situations, people prefer to do like everyone else, usually because they assume it’s the “safe and tried” and most optimal way of dealing with a situation.
  • “Would X quantity be enough for you?”. Give them the high option, and prevent them to say no. Great for upsells.
  • “What happens next”. Give them clarity on your process, and finish with a simple question like “what is the best address for you?”

Pushing harder

  • The following ideas should be used with care and only when appropriate. You could easily sound very pushy if used improperly.
  • “You have 3 options ___ what’s going to be easier for you?”. The common way, doing nothing, working with us. Use with care, picture the options in an honest way, without omitting a clearly better alternative.
  • Assuming the person is interested. Instead of asking questions that can be declined like “Can I” or “Do you”, directly ask non-declinable questions like “what”. What question do you have for me? What is the best number to contact you at? Personally, I think this approach is dangerous with educated buyers like in B2B.
  • “They are two types of people in this world”. Remove the uncertainty of options and reduce them to only two, to make the decision easier. As for the previous point, this trick is a bit too obvious and many people could see it as an insult to their intelligence to fall into such a trivial pushy sales tactic. That being said, helping the customer to list and explore all options in order to help him make a decision with an objective view of all his options is helpful.

Handling objections

  • “Don’t worry” + reassurance. Prevent specific objection in stressful context.
  • “What do you know about”. Respectfully challenge anyone about any subject in a non-confrontational way.
  • “What makes you say that?”. Understand the underlying reason for an objection.
  • “When would be a good time”. The best way to dodge the “I don’t have time” objection. Next time start with “what did you like about” to invite them to start on a positive note and not find problems to evade you.

Handling “I need time”

  • “Just out of curiosity, what is it specifically that you need some time to think about”. Then silent.
  • “Just out of curiosity, what needs to happen for you to make a decision about this?”. Then silent.

Handling “no”

  • “Before you make up your mind, wouldn’t it make sense to speak a few more times about the difference it can make for you and your family?”. That is really pushy and should be used only when it’s really, objectively, and by far, in the best interest of the customer.
  • “Just one more thing”. When the customer thinks the conversation is ending and lets his guard down, you can ask for a down-sell. You can ask if they accept to sample a product, commit to a small order, come to an event, introduce them to someone you think they should know, ask them to do something for you, asking them a question about key information can suddenly give you the upper hand to restart the conversation.

Asking for referrals when they say “thank you”

  • “Could you do me a small favor?” to which they couldn’t say no
  • Then ask “You wouldn’t happen to know just one person, someone who, just like you, would benefit from [the main benefit of your product]”. And then, stay silent.
  • “Don’t worry, I’m not looking for their details right now, but who was it that you were thinking of?”
  • “You couldn’t do me a further favor, could you?”
  • “Next time you see Steve, could you share with him a little bit about how it was doing business with me and see if he’s perhaps open-minded about taking a phone call from me to see if I can help him in the same way I helped you?”
  • “Would it be ok if I gave you a call next week to find out how the chat with Steve went?”
  • And later, on that call “I’m guessing you didn’t get around to speaking to Steve?”