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Selling Successfully and the

Secret of Questions
The Ultimate Method of Irresistible Persuasion

By Keith William

Abstract: This article explains how we can all become


irresistible persuaders, get a 100-percent sales strike

rate, get ideas and plans accepted and adopted, or raise
the finance required for start-ups and projects.The au-
thor describes, explains, and teaches a methodology that
has solid roots in our psychology and relies on our au-
tomatic, subconscious reaction to stimulus, the study
of which is called ethology. For the readers who have
gone head to head with a prospective customer and
found that an enthusiastic description of the wonderful
features and benefits of their product did not persuade
and did not win the businessthis article is for you.

Keywords: credibility; determination; motivation; per-


suasion; sales; selling; success

Introduction
For those readers who have gone head to head with a
prospective customer and found that an enthusiastic de-
scription of the wonderful features and benefits of your
Keith Williams was an entrepreneur product did not persuade, did not win the business. This
who spent over 35 years creating and
developing small businesses. He was
article is for you.
a disciplined self-starter working from For those readers who do not need to go head to head
home to a regular schedule, using with customers but who do need to persuade bosses, col-
skills learned during his training leagues, or financiers of the wonderful features and ben-
as naval officer.
efits of your ideas or plans. This article is for you.
His warm, charismatic disposition and This article explains how we can all become irre-
sense of humor helped him easily sistible persuaders; get a 100 percent sales strike rate,
build a rapport with new clients. His
personal strength lay in understanding
get ideas and plans accepted and adopted or raise the
the risks and pitfalls in setting up and finance required for start-ups and projects.
running a successful business. This article describes, explains, and teaches a meth-
During his life, Keith attained a wealth odology that has solid roots in our psychology and relies
of academic awards, returning to on our automatic, subconscious reaction to stimulus, the
University on three occasions, which study of which is called ethology. A coaching client who
gave him the rare distinction of being learned the basic method described it as life changing
both a master mariner and business
administrator. Something that is life changing we might expect to be

Expert Insights 1
Selling Successfully and the Secret of Questions

complicated and difficult but this method is a structure, a series of protocols, a pro-
is really very simple; this is how it works: gression, and the building of a persuasive
platform of agreement with checks and
Every individual, group, firm, or or- loopbacks. Follow this structure, building
ganization, lets describe them as agreement piecemeal, and you will master
organisms, have needs. the only irresistible technique for sales and
Every organism is hard wired to seek persuasion.
to satisfy its own need.
Anything offering a satisfaction of Part 1
need without apparent risk is au-
tomatically, irresistibly desirable. What Makes a Successful Sales Person?
In this article you will learn how to David Meyer and Herbert Greenberg, psy-
identify a need, how to adapt your chologists, were hired by the life insurance
offer to satisfy the need and have industry in the United States to discover
those with the need automatically why some salesmen, they were all men in
desire what you offer. They will au- those days, appeared to be much more ef-
tomaticallysay YES to you. fective than the majority, despite the same
training, financial incentives, and moti-
The real secret lies in how we persuade vation. The results of their research were
others to say YES to us. At this point you, published by the Harvard Business Review
the reader, need to come to a momentous in 1964 and again in 2006.
realization by answering the first ques- In the 2006 article, American industrial
tion, this answer is the key to the secret psychologist, Robert N. McMurry, a pro-
knowledge. lific author on the subject of selling com-
To signify agreement, acceptance, and mented, ...A very high proportion of those
giving permission, we use a single word engaged in selling cannot sell.
YES. Meyer and Greenberg discovered that
Even if you have never previously the outstanding sales people had two per-
thought of this, think now, is the last state- sonality traits the others did not have. In
ment correct? fact the two are rarely found together. The
This is the life-changing conundrum. essential personality traits were found
There is only one way we can say yes. tobe:
There is only one way we can give agree-
ment, acceptance, or permission. Only one Empathy. a description of a high level of
way we can say YES. emotional capacity, the experience of
understanding another persons condi-
The life-changing question: what tion from their perspective.
is the one and only way we can Ego Drive. Psychologists link drive and
say YES? determination with the ego but for us
Ego Drive is the need to win.
We only say YES in answer to
a question. Psychologists tell us we cannot fake em-
pathy or ego drive; accordingly if they are
Customers, bosses, colleagues, and fi- not part of your natural personality you
nanciers will always say yes to us if we ask will fail in sales.
a question to confirm we are offering to
satisfy a need. Much later in this instruc- Not True.
tion you will hear this referred to as The As part of this learning exercise you will
Closing Question. Between here and there realize that if we can become committed to

2 Expert Insights
Selling Successfully and the Secret of Questions

becoming successful, as opposed to being Commitment and Consistency


motivated, perhaps, by this article; you can You may have to think about this but if I
become as effective at selling your prod- suggested to you that you would trust and
ucts, ideas, and plans as those applauded have confidence in someone who consis-
as the best. tently demonstrated support for you; you
To be successful in selling we will be would tend to agree with me, wouldnt you?
required to be persuasive and influential The first five are all personal judgments
as all negotiation and especially sales ne- or interpersonal activity. The last is the ba-
gotiation is a contest. Ego Drive, the need sic law of business.
to win, win or lose a sale or argument, the
language of contest. Scarcity
To help further it is valuable to un- The Law of Supply and Demand. The fewer
derstand the psychological principles of there are available, the greater the value.
persuasion. Scarcity can trigger panic buying behavior.
A social psychologist carried out anec- Check out how many hotel booking sites
dotal research in the 1980s and produced tell you Only one room available.
a fascinating and very readable book Remember these principles and learn to
(Cialdini, 1984). Thirty years later his work adopt them in your selling strategies. Do so
was paraphrased and Robert Cialdini be- and you will expand your emotional capac-
came legend (Goldstein, Martin, Cialdini, ity and become empathic.
2007). At this stage we have already learned a
Like all psychology the following sounds great deal, in principle. We now know that
like common sense because, innately, we if we are or can learn to be empathic, we
all know this. Cialdini concluded we are all will influence and persuade more readily.
influenced by and easily persuaded by the However, selling is a contest, you against
following. them, you must also be determined to win.
Determination and the willingness to
Reciprocation learn to become empathic require commit-
We are all hard wired to respond to a gift. ment from you. This is a good time to learn
We feel indebted and need to repay. When about one of the greatest misunderstand-
you receive a cheap pen or a sheet of per- ings: the value of motivation.
sonalized address stickers from a charity, To be a good persuader you will have to
they are providing a stimulus to your in- learn to think like your opponents while
stinct to reciprocate and repay. also thinking about how best to persuade
them: become empathic. To be a successful
Social Proof persuader you will have to be determined
People like us. We are influenced and more never to give up or be afraid of rejection. To
easily persuaded by people we identify as do this you must think about what you are
being just like us. about to read, have a debate with your in-
ner self and decide you are going to do this
Liking and you are going to win every negotiation
No surprise, we are influenced and per- you enter. Do that and you are committed,
suaded by people we like more than those it will require a trauma to change you.
we dont like or despise. Other sales books, trainers, and worst
of all motivators will take a different ap-
Authority proach. They will attempt to MOTIVATE
No surprise again, people we recognize as you. We have heard about highly motived
having authority over us can influence and individuals and their achievements but the
persuade, even command, us. motivation is a misnomer.

Expert Insights 3