BLOG: Predictable Persuasion


Life may be complicated, but it can be very predictable.

Behavioral psychologists know that a number of life situations present themselves over and over again to parents, business leaders, teenagers, and customer service representatives.

The commonality of these situations allows us to know in advance almost exactly how they will play out. Indeed, if a scenario is predictable, we can know in advance how to best handle it. We can know in advance what to say, for example, in recurring situations during the sales process.

The resulting scripts are what I call “predictive dialog.” You can use this communication technique to guide conversations toward workable conclusions.

Predictive dialog allows the other person to feel in charge, which is a good way to make the situation interactive. The key to predictive dialogue is using strategic questions and specific word combinations to keep the other person focused, yet comfortable.

Strong salespeople love predictive dialog

Predictive dialog is a very useful skill in sales.

Here’s some verbiage that shows how predictive dialogue engages people and helps them feel in control:

    • “Can you meet with me on Tuesday or is Wednesday better for you?”
    • “Tell me a bit more and then I’ll share some things with you.”
    • “Which one do you think your wife would like more?”

Predictive dialog is not about controlling the conversation, but rather guiding it.

How to use predictive dialog in sales

The chronology of a sale is a grand exercise in predictive dialog. Consider all the opportunities to guide the conversation:

1. Pre-Qualification. If the person says he or she doesn’t have the budget to purchase your product or service, you can instantly decide whether to have a long or short dialog.

2. Cold call. Ask your contact to confirm the pre-qualification, then help you identify the influential buyer.

3. Conversation. Use dialog to learn about the prospect and the problem.

4. Presentation. Tell short success stories that have worked previously.

5. Anchors. If things are going well, ask a “yes question” to confirm that you’re on track, e.g., “Do you like what you’ve heard so far?”

6. Trial close. Pose a question that offers a choice between deliverables such as “Do you like the green model or the blue model better?”

7. The close. A call-to-action such as “How would you like to pay today?” or “Would you your first delivery on Monday?”

8. Objections. The salesperson’s opportunity to deal with any roadblocks to the transaction.

9. Re-direct. A second chance to close the deal.

10. Upsell. An opportunity to offer additional value.

11. Ask for referrals. “Who else do you know that might benefit from my product/service?” Never ask, “Do you know anyone else that …” The predictive answer to that question is, “No.”

12. Follow up. Deliver “thank you” phone calls, notes, gifts, and other niceties that further deepen the relationship.

There are enough unpleasant surprises in life and in sales. Use predictive dialog to take the edge off.  More tips can be found here.

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