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The profession of sales is at its core about the matching or transferring of beliefs. A successful sale occurs when the client either matches to, or adopts the belief of the sales person around the issue and product. That adoption of belief must be voluntary. You cannot pressure someone into believing something (although if you are unethical and unscrupulous, you can pressure them into behaving as if they believe). Any course of action will not last if the buyer doesn’t genuinely believe what you believe as the seller.

The whole concept of the 3 day right of rescission for in-home sales comes from that exact truth. Regulators knew you could pressure behavior in the short term, but beliefs would snap back like a rubber band in the absence of that pressure, sort of like trying to hold a balloon under water.

What powers a belief system for most human beings is the underlying assumptions or ‘premises’ that we wear like a tattoo. Unlike a tattoo, however, these premises can change. 

Sales people often come to me with the pain of what they see as a contradiction, in that they think the client is onboard, but the sale is stalled. I answer with a quote from my favorite fictional character of all time. 

“There are no contradictions. If you feel you are facing a contradiction, check your premises, for one of them is wrong”  – Francisco D’Anconia

Translate for the sales pro, if your client appears to be behaving in a way that suggests a contradiction, you are likely misreading their premises.  OK, let’s put this into common language using a hypothetical example.

– You sell financial planning services. Your baseline value prop is based on helping your customers make smart, beneficial decisions based on having enough money to retire and investing safely and wisely.

– You show up at their home address to meet with them, and this is what you see….

– Allow me to ask you how successful you think you are going to be at proposing delayed gratification and a focus on long term viability of investments to this person? Someone who is neglecting their most appreciating asset, but is fine dropping huge money (or even worse borrowing so much) on a depreciating asset? What do you think the premises of this potential client are going to be?

At the very least, this conversation needs to start with qualifying the beliefs, premises, attitudes of this client. Otherwise, you have a very good chance that this is going to be a huge waste of time.

Not 100%, because there are always exceptions (eg, this person is about to tear this house down and build a cash generating apartment building on it). But let’s agree it’s well over 99% that something is not aligning here in terms of beliefs.

Here’s the big takeaway. DON”T WAIT. Do not wait until late in the process to find out that the beliefs cannot align. This exploration needs to take place in discovery, before you even present, and not during a fake price negotiation after weeks of back and forth. Some people cannot let go of their premises, and that can disqualify them from being your customer. Ignoring that just wastes everyone’s time.