Card tricks: The facilitator’s best teaching aid

I’ve been doing a lot of prospecting workshops lately, probably because today’s weak economy has forced many of my clients to work harder at bringing in new business and they need to sharpen their telephone skills.

Much of the time in these workshops is spent on discussing and practicing what to say when you get an objection from the prospect, so let’s talk about this today.

Here’s the strategy for effective telephone prospecting, which assumes you start with a good scrubbed list:


  1.  You have to make a lot of calls.  Making 4-5 calls a day just won’t do it if you get only one appointment for every dozen calls you make.
  2. Qualify or disqualify each prospect thoroughly, but do it quickly. No sense lingering with a prospect who isn’t interested.  It wastes time and you need the time to make your next call.
  3. You must have a strong script, with a good value proposition (see my posts on the Challenger sale)
  4. You must be able to respond calmly and skillfully to any common telephone objection.

After many years of experience doing live call workshops, I noticed that many learners get needlessly hung up on step 2.  “What do I say if he says this?” they ask.  “What’s a good response if he tells me he just isn’t interested?” Handling the objection itself is easy.  What’s hard is getting the learners to see that not every prospect will agree to see you.  After a few quick questions to ensure it’s not a prospect, move on and make the next call.  Time is money.

So today I’ll show you trainers a fun tip on how to teach step 2, qualifying or disqualifying prospects quickly and thoroughly. Here’s what I do. I shuffle a deck of cards and ask the group how many aces are in the deck.  They tell me four. I say, “Okay, so that’s one ace in every 13 cards, about the same as the number of appointments you’ll get, one in thirteen calls.  So I’m going to play a card game with you. Who wants to play?”

Someone always volunteers and I say, “I’m going to turn over one card at a time for 30 seconds and every time I turn over an ace, I’ll give you a dollar!”  This gets them very excited and I get someone to keep time.  Then I very slowly turn the cards over face up, one at a time. Usually this costs me a dollar or two when time is up and I take the money from my pocket and pay the participant.

Then I announce, “We’re going to play the game one more time, except this time you get to turn the cards over yourself.”  Guess what happens?  You got it.  The learner turns the cards over at about the speed of light. I always end up losing $4 in this round.

See the idea? I ask the participants what they learned from this game, and it’s a big “AHA!”  They tell me, “Don’t mess around.  Qualify as best you can, but if you’re not making progress, hang up and make the next call.  Time is money!”

Try this one out next time you do a prospecting workshop, or write me and I’ll help you script it out. You can have a lot of fun with a deck of cards.

Think Like Your Customer

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

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