It’s Not What You Say But How You Say It.

Do I look confident and self-assured here?

Here are two quick stories on today’s Fable Friday involving social experiments on decision-making.  You’ll love these.

In a 2006 experiment economists Daniel Benjamin and Jesse Shapiro asked 264 college students to view 58 10-second silent clips from C-Span, featuring gubernatorial candidates.  Despite not hearing the content of the debate said Benjamin, “People were remarkably accurate in predicting the election outcome based on just watching the clips.”  Benjamin cited “appearing to be likeable and a good leader” as explanations from the sample, far above “physical attractiveness.”

A similar study had been conducted in 2005 by Alexander Todorov, in which pictures of candidates from 2004 congressional races were shown to subjects, who predicted the election winner an astonishing 69% of the time.  Todorov wrote, “These inferences were specific to competence and occurred within a 1-second exposure to the faces of the candidates. The findings suggest that rapid, unreflective trait inferences can contribute to voting choices, which are widely assumed to be based primarily on rational and deliberative considerations.”

Are you with me so far? So what does this have to do with your selling skills or your training approaches?  Here is what I learned.

In my training programs on sales calling, I have the learners work with a model for opening the on-site call, something like:

  1. Thank the prospect for seeing you and refer to the objective of the call.
  2. Make a benefit or value statement about your company, your line of business or your competencies to build interest.
  3. Refer to the agenda you sent and confirm the prospect has time to spend with you.
  4. Tell the prospect that you’ll make recommendations after exploring the prospect’s objectives and current practices.

I let the learners “choreograph” (not script!) their own opening and have them practice before the group, and I tell the group to “score” the presentation Olympic-style, by holding up a big card with a number from one to ten, a really fun exercise. (Write to me for the facilitation notes.)

In all the years I have been doing this exercies I have learned one thing:  the learner who stands up there and sounds confident and assured, no matter whether he follows these steps or not, ALWAYS wins!  It’s practically automatic.

So here’s your tip:  Next time you make your first prospect call, jot down your top 3-4 key things to say.   It doesn’t matter what order they’re in but they should be good, strong points, and no more than 60 seconds. Practice saying the opening over and over, until you can say it comfortably and with great confidence. 

And when you do it on your next call I guarantee your prospect will sit up and think, “Wow, I have a real pro here.”

Remember, to succeed with your customer, you have to

Think Like Your Customer!

 I send a FREE e-newsletter first week of every month.  My June issue deals with one of the practices of great coaches, how to deal effectively with excuses.  If you’re not signed up, just go to my website using the link to the right, click on the fancy “N”(for newsletter) in the top right and enter your name and email address.  If you sign up today you’ll just make the Tuesday June 7th issue.  Thank you.  Gregory

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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