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Secret, Superior Sales Techniques That Really Work

If you’ve ever tried to sell something, you may know there are countless techniques to do it.

Some rely on emotion, some rely on getting the person to collaborate, some rely on leading with benefits, and some are a mixture of these – and more.

In this post, however, I want to cover something different: I want to cover 5 techniques that are highly effective, but that… most people don’t use.

What are these, and how do they work?

Secret, Superior Sales Techniques That Really Work

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Eric Lofholm
Master Sales Trainer
Keynote Speaker
EntrepreneurNOW Network

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TJ Walker
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Arvee Robinson
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Brad Hussey
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Carol Marzouk
Executive Coach
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Valerie Sargent
Emotional Intelligence Strategist
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Scott Robertson
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Paul Banoub
Technologist
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Identity Contradictions

Identity contradictions consist of telling the person something like, “this isn’t you”.

They usually work by first planting an identity in the person, and then leveraging it to persuade them.

In other words, we’re leveraging consistency persuasion. The person says something, and attaches themselves to an identity, and then you leverage those previous words to guide them to act in a specific manner.

For example, let’s say that, with a prospect, in conversation, they seem like they care a lot about their community (you’re selling productivity software, for example).

You can plant an identity of being someone who serves others. That is, they are someone who makes sacrifices, who helps others, and so on;

For added effect, you want to congratulate them on this personality trait, and/or, get them to verbally confirm it to you.

Then, later on, in the closing stage, you can use this personality trait as an incentive. Saying something like, “As we mentioned, you seem like someone who helps others and is dedicated to others. Investing in this product will really help you keep that up”.

That’s the positive side, btw. You also have the negative one, which is stating that the negative action is a contradiction of that identity.

In short, if buying reinforces them being a person who helps others, then not buying goes against that.

You would say something like, “Are you really hesitating? Well, it just doesn’t seem like the type of thing you would do. Someone who helps others, and is dedicated to others, and wants to make this type of contribution, in my view, would invest in this so quickly, due to the potential benefits it has”.

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The Potential / The Dickens Pattern

The second technique is a very simple one at heart. Put simply, you persuade with a positive possibility. The potential. What can be.

When a positive scenario is mentioned to us, we have a tendency to focus on it – we are anchored by it, in persuasion parlance – and we don’t even think about the actual probability of it occuring.

Just think of the advertisements for lottery tickets. “You can become a millionaire!”.

Oh wow, I can!

But if you stop to think about it… what is the probability?

Oh well, doesn’t matter. I can become a millionaire!

This is how the potential works.

Persuading with the potential consists of simply mentioning the possibilities with your offering. You can become more fit, you can become more healthy, you can save time, you can become someone others admire, etc etc.

At the end of the day, the person won’t think about how probable these things are – they will just focus on the fact they can happen.

An advanced variation of this is the Dickens Pattern. It consists of contrasting a positive and a negative potential. Two futures – a dream one, and a nightmare one.

You mention both futures, and describe both in extreme detail, to the person, and then simply make it seem like their action right now defines which future they get.

  • “Imagine that you have everything you ever wanted. People respect you, you love your body, you walk by them and they’re jealous, (…)”;
  • “Now imagine the opposite. What if, 10 years from now, you achieved nothing? You’re filled with regret, there is so much you could have done but didn’t, you hate yourself for it (…)”;
  • “Now, what if the difference between these two scenarios is you investing in this product, right here and now?”.

Progress and Loss

Progress and loss are two sides of the same coin – two versions of the same technique. They are part of the family of effort persuasion, or illustration persuasion in general.

Basically, painting something as already being in progress makes people more likely to continue, due to effect of inertia – it’s no effort to keep doing what you’re already doing. Therefore, if the sales process can be described as starting from zero, versus already being in progress, there is always a benefit to the latter.

Illustrating loss is the flip side of this. That is, instead of considering stopping something that can be easily done, you consider it something that must be actively done, with effort. In other words, stopping is not the “natural” continuation – it’s the opposite of that. And you illustrate everything the person would lose by stopping at this stage.

Illustrating progress would be something like, “We’ve already come so far, and all that is left is to make the investment. We’ve done most of the work here, we’re already there!”.

Illustrating loss, the negative version of it, would be something like, “Do you really want to actively stop this process at this stage? We’ll lose all our progress, we’ll have to start from the beginning in the future, and you will lose all of this opportunity… Are you really sure?”.

Illustrating progress makes it easy to continue, while illustrating loss makes it hard to stop.

Implementation and Visualisation

One of the most effective persuasion principles is that of implementation intention. Put simply, getting someone to visualise the specific details of doing something makes them more likely to do it. They crystalise it in their minds, and they convince themselves, in a way. It’s also a type of illustration persuasion – the better the person illustrates something in their mind, the less effort it is to imagine it, and the more likely they are to buy it.

Imagine you are buying a car. You have 3 brands available. In regards 2 of them, it's just you can buy. But the third brand tells you exactly how to pay, where to head to make the purchase, how to take the car home, and illustrates the whole process for you.

This level of visualisation will make you more likely to buy from the third brand. There’s less friction, and you know exactly what to do.

You can also get the person to do it themselves. And this works even better – it’s the principle of implementation intention. Put simply, you ask the person about how they would do something. The more they elaborate, the more likely they are to do something.

In other words, you don’t ask someone whether they will buy or not. You ask them how they will buy. How will they pay? When will they do it? How will they use the product the first time? You force them to elaborate.

This principle takes many forms for many purposes.

  • In sales, a subtype is what we call a “trial close” (“How would you buy?”);
  • In negotiation, a subtype is what Chris Voss calls “calibrated questions” (“How can you accept this price?”);
  • In personal development (to persuade yourself), it’s what Tony Robbins asks “quality questions” (“How can I achieve 2x more results right here and now?”);

This principle works proportionately to the level of detail you enforce. The more you get the person to crystalise the details, the more convinced they are. And the more vague they are about their plan of attack, the more likely it is they are not planning on doing it all (it’s great to identify objections, too).

Whether you’re the one illustrating the details – or getting the person to do it themselves – making the picture more vivid and clear drives the person to action.

Flipping

Flipping is a very simple, but effective tool to reverse a power dynamic and get the other side to prove themselves. Put simply, flipping is reversing a question that is asked of you. You can flip according to 3 major dimensions, with different levels of aggressiveness. Put simply, flipping is, when someone asks, “Why?”, you asking, “Why not?”. You go from being on the defensive to being on the offensive.

For example:

  • “Is it possible to make a discount here?”. “Why would I make a discount?”;
  • “Do you think this offering is good enough?”. “Well, are you good enough as a client?”;
  • “What are your qualifications?”. “What is your goal? The qualifications depend on that”;

In short, you’re taking a situation where the other side is making you prove yourself, and letting it boomerang all the way back to them.

This is where the three major types come into play. You can flip according to:

  • The situation (You reverse the situation);
  • The person (You ask the person what they would do);
  • The majority (You ask the person if most people do this);

Or, in practical terms:

  • Flipping against the situation: “Do you do this?”. “Why would I do it?”;
  • Flipping against the person: “Do you do this?”. “Do you do it?”;
  • Flipping against the majority: “Do you do this?”. “Do most people do it?”;

These are in increasing order of effectiveness, but also risk. That is, flipping against the situation is the “safest” one, but also the least effective, while flipping against the majority is the most powerful counter, but also the riskiest one (if the majority does not, in fact, do this, you just wrecked yourargument and helped the other side).

An example of using all three types for the same objection or issue, in this case on price:

  • Against the situation: “Isn’t the price too high?”. “Why would this price be too high?”;
  • Against the person: “Isn’t the price too high?”. “Would you sell this product for a lower price?”;
  • Against the majority: “Isn’t the price too high?”. “Do most products in this range cost less?”;

Again, notice how the majority one should be researched in advance, because if it’s right, you undeniably win the argument, and if you get it wrong, you lose and even make the other person feel stronger in their argument. If you product does cost less than others, use it by all means. If it doesn’t, never speak this variation for this objection.

At the end of the day, you get the drift. Flipping takes a situation where the other side is making you prove yourself, and flips it right back on them, making them prove themselves, or making them answer in some other way.

Conclusion

These techniques will provide some extra firepower to your sales skills. Although they are not completely secret, they aren’t frequently used by many salespeople either, which gives you a unique edge.

You can also check out my online courses here.

Vasco Patricio
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Vasco Patricio
Executive Persuasion Coach, MIT-Backed Entrepreneur
Subjects of Expertise: Negotiation, Sales, Emotional Management
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Vasco Patricio
Executive Persuasion Coach
MIT-Backed Entrepreneur

Subjects of Expertise

Negotiation
Sales
Emotional Management

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