blunt essays with sharp points
Sep 24, 2010 7:00 AM–A friend of mine, a salesman I respect*, privately circulated an article titled Question, Don’t Attack, Objections.
Paraphrasing, he made the point that when you tell a person flatly that they’re wrong, or make them feel stupid, or paint them into a corner, or preach at them, you are not going to endear yourself, are you? And you are not going to make the sale.
He wrote that you must first help the person to doubt their existing beliefs. If they do, then they will become more open to what you have to offer as an alternative.
He offered a two step process for creating doubt.
- First, think through in advance the reasons the person might object to a new idea.
- Second, develop questions which isolate and create doubt about each objection in a non-adversarial way.
Be prepared for possible answers and your next responses.
Suppose you know a mother who tends to believe the anti-vaccine propaganda, and you want to sell her the idea to vaccinate her baby. An objection to the idea might be, “I hear that vaccines can cause autism”.
Instead of contradicting, an isolating question might be, “If it weren’t for the concern about autism, would you vaccinate your baby?” If so, a doubt-creating question might be, “Let’s talk about the risk of autism then. How much risk of autism would your pediatrician say is created by this vaccination?”
Be prepared for her to answer, “I don’t know,” or “none,” or, “my sister is a nurse and she heard lots of babies got autism from vaccines,” and prepare questions to ask next.
My friend pointed out that it’s impossible to anticipate or answer every objection, or to be sure of getting the person to the point of openness right away, or to make every sale. The goal is to plant seeds of doubt. Doubt will grow in its own good time. And that is when you pitch your new idea to them.
* I realize I may have lost my audience with that phrase alone :-)
I originally wrote this article on January 7, 2010 as a comment on the Swift Blog.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes they fool you by walking upright.
What part of “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” don’t you understand?
Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. —Terry Pratchett
Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. —Robert Heinlein
Do not ask why the past was better than the present, for this is not a question prompted by wisdom. —Ecclesiastes 7:10
Power lines abruptly stopped causing cancer in 1997 after the U.S. National Cancer Institute conducted a better study. —Robert Parks
Встретимся под столом! (Vstretimsja pod stolom: To meeting you under the table!)
The more you cry, the less you’ll pee.
Relish the love of a good woman.
It’ll never get better if you keep picking at it. —advice from Judge “Maximum” Bob Gibbs