I sincerely believe that to be a sales professional, you have to embrace the belief that your mission is to educate and assist customers, not convince them to buy. Why? Because ethical and professional sales people sell on needs, not on deception. If I can educate a client on their blindspots, find and make them aware of solvable pain, and the value of solving that pain, then I don’t need to convince them of anything. They buy because it makes sense. 

Only inferior sales people, or people selling inferior products need to convince clients to buy. Yet, I see constant examples of tactical approaches based on “convincing”.

“Do you want to hear a funny story?”

Ever had someone say that to you? They then look at you with expectant eyes, hoping to get your permission to tell their story. But they are actually asking for more than your permission to tell the story. They are actually sneaking in a tacit endorsement because if you respond yes to that question, you’ve agreed not only to hear their story, but you’ve committed in advance to judging it as funny. That’s a practice based on the fact that people often try to not contradict themselves, and want to be consistent with their previous statements. Used this way, however, it adds a “trick” to get you to commit to the joke as being funny in advance. It’s sort of a Jedi mind trick, using the dark side of the force.

So, yes isn’t the actual honest response we should give when asked this question. What we should respond with is, “I’ll agree to hear the story, but I’ll decide afterwards if it was funny”.

Another reason people ask it that way, if they feel their chances are better at getting your permission than if they just asked, “Do you want to hear a story?” 

What they would say if they were 100% honest is, “I want to tell you a story, can I have your permission because I am hoping that you will find it funny?”

The sales world equivalent of this is “You’re going to love this” or “Let me show you something you are going to love”. I wince whenever someone says that to me. My internal voice yells out, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I”M GONNA THINK, just tell me!” 

You are not a Jedi and even if you were, most people dislike mind tricks, much less Jedi ones. 

Tell people what you want to tell them and do not attempt to tell them how they are going to feel after you tell them. This comes off as either arrogant or manipulative, neither of which are good, because they will set off defense mechanisms in most people (some people are weak minded enough to fall for it, sure, but do we want our sales approach based on the idea our prospects are like dim witted Imperial Stormtroopers searching for droids?)

These kinds of approaches usually backfire, especially hard in prospecting. It feels like a scam just like all those emails about guaranteed traffic to my website, or having inherited millions from a Nigerian prince. Your prospects know it’s a scam, and you’re losing trust as soon as they sense this is being used on them.

Just ask for time and admit that they may like or may not like what you are going to show them. Don’t rob them or attempt to rob them of their power to make decisions. They are much more likely to be open to information if they don’t feel like they will need to fight their way out of the default assumption that they need to love what you show them. If they feel that pressure, it is actually psychologically easier for them to refuse to give you time.

You have nothing until you have time. Anything that diminishes your odds of getting time from your prospects hurts your sales efforts.