Burts AIS, osCommerce & More Blog
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Six Honest Serving Men

During the mid 90's I was a salesman, not a particularly great salesman as I never liked bending the truth to make the sale, but for about 5 years I was fairly successful at it. I've sold all sorts of crap to all sorts of people, ranging from Wills to Cars to Life Insurance to Mortgages to Websites to Domain Names... I joined up with one of the largest North American Life Insurers and their training methods were very good, much of it based on Frank Bettgers teachings (check out "How I raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling" if you get a chance). One of the older guys in the office I worked at was the top salesman for something like 20 years running - his secret; A Rudyard Kipling Poem;

I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who...
If you apply this poem to asking questions, you will get your prospect to give the answers you require; most people asked closed questions (where the only answer can be "yes" or "no"), by asking open questions you force your prospect to open up and talk about himself and his goals. By understanding your prospect, you'll be able to recommend products and services that he will be interested in..an open question is one that begins with "What", "Why", "When", "How", "Where", "Who" and "Tell Me"... Example: [closed] Do you think that George Bush is a good leader ? The answer can only be "yes" or "no"... [open] What do you think of George Bush ? The answer: you'll learn what your prospect believes; "Well, i think he's..." By allying this method of asking questions, to Frank Bettgers way of working, you will get great results in sales. What is Frank Bettgers way of working:
I no longer worry about being a brilliant conversationalist. I simply try to be a good listener. I notice that people who do that are usually welcome wherever they go.
In other words: Ask an Open Question, then sit back and listen closely to the answer. A good salesman has 1 mouth and 2 ears. Use them in that proportion...

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At 12/07/2005 04:50:00 PM, Anonymous Chance said...

This is a very good point not only from a sales point of view, but also from a general social interaction point of view.

When I was an interrogator in the Army, this was one of the many effective communication techniques they taught to get the person being detained to "open up". The basic fact of human nature is that everyone likes to talk about their favorite subject- Themselves. If you can play on that and make them (even if only subconsciously) think that they are talking about "their thoughts" or "their needs" or "their opinions" as opposed to giving an answer to "your question" then you will always get more information from a person.


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