From my days instructing Dale Carnegie communication courses, there are a few principles – out of about 30 – that have stuck with me. One of them is about the Socratic Method, which boils down to getting to a “yes-yes” in any communication where the goal is persuasion. In other words, you start with low-stakes “yesses” and move up to the one you ultimately want. Of equal importance is avoiding the dreaded word “no” any time during sales dialogue.
To understand the concept, think about the unmistakable power of momentum. A great example is a struck cue ball on a billiards table. Momentum builds through the mass and velocity of the cue ball. Imagine getting a series of positive affirmations one right after another during your sales pitch; you could almost feel the prospects moving in your favor. There is a physiologic perspective applied to this attitude. The entire organism—glandular, nervous, muscular gathers itself into a condition of rejection or affirmation. Reversing this momentum is as hard as it would be to reverse the rolling cue ball.
The entire organism—glandular, nervous, muscular gathers itself into a condition of rejection or affirmation.
At some point the cue ball will hit a nicely positioned group of billiard balls and when that occurs what we have is transitional momentum. This transition of energy creates momentum for the other billiard balls, much like a positive reaction by one prospect can affect other team members to elicit positive reactions. Of course, this – unfortunately – works with a negative reaction as well.
Ignore your audience’s feelings at the beginning of a sales pitch at your own peril. The indifference or natural skepticism one has when about to be knowingly “sold” something is real. If not addressed, it will require the patience of an angel and the skill of an orator to close in your favor. Even today, 25 centuries after he walked the earth, Socrates method of getting the other person saying “yes-yes” immediately would put him in line for any company’s top sales award.