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Staying in Control of the Selling Process By Bob Burg

Every so often you’ll find yourself in front of a “controlling” prospect. This is a person who wants to show you who is boss (and, as far as they’re concerned, it ain’t you!) 🙂 . They’ll do this by asking questions – often in rapid succession – demanding fast answers. They will also demand that you answer questions; not ask them.

Avoiding “rapid-fire.”

Although it’s often good rapport-building to converse with your prospect at the same rate of speed as they are talking, this may not be helpful in a rapid-fire situation where, as soon as you answer, they fire back another question, trying to control the pace. Often, they are doing this to throw you off your timing (a form of passive-aggressiveness).

In this case, you need to slow down in order to get *them* to slow down. This must be done – not in a challenging matter, but in a kind, caring and respectful manner. Once they see you won’t be intimidated, they’ll slow down, as well.

Here’s how you do it: when they begin to rapid-fire, you just take your time, and have that look on your face as though you are really thinking their question through before responding (which, of course, you are). Then, just a bit more slowly than natural, provide a thought-out response (of course, while respectfully letting them know within your answer that their question was good and valid). Then ask your own question of them.

Do this just a couple of times, and you will either gain their total respect and cooperation, or they will have to ask you why you won’t just answer their question quickly. At that point, you can gently let them know you value them enough as a person and a potential client to give them the *best* information you possibly can, as opposed to the *fastest.*

Question to Ask Questions

Now let’s look at how to work with the controlling prospect who demands that you answer their questions and not ask your own. Again, this is a form of passive-aggressive control on their part and, if you fall into this trap, you will not be in a position to effectively serve them.

Allow me to reconstruct an in-home presentation I was making to an extremely controlling dentist and his wife back in my direct-selling days. He would ask me questions and, instead of my simply answering, as he desired, I kept attempting to ask him questions that would help me to analyze their needs for the product I was then selling.

Suddenly, he said, “Listen, I’m the customer – I’ll ask you the questions, and you give me straight answers, okay!?” (If you’re thinking, “Why take that abuse – why not just leave then and there?” . . . there were two reasons. First, that was during my salad days (meaning that being able to afford a salad was a big deal) and I really needed the money, and prospects such as he were a definite part of my job. Secondly, what would have been the fun in leaving?) 🙂

Me (gently): That’s fine (always agree first) but, aren’t you a dentist?

Dentist (a bit bewildered at my question): Yes, why?

Me (with a look of confusion on my face): I’m just thinking; if I’m sitting in your dentist’s chair as a patient with an excruciatingly painful tooth-ache, you’re going to ask me questions such as, “which tooth hurts?”, and “how long have you been feeling discomfort?” and other pertinent questions, right?

Doc: Yeah, so what?

Me (tactfully): Now, what if I said to you “I’m the patient, I’ll ask the questions – you just fix the tooth.” Wouldn’t that make it sort of difficult for you to help me?

As I said that to him, he and his wife began to chuckle, we all smiled and he replied, “Yes, I see what you mean.”

Briefly, if/when this ever happens to you, relax, don’t be intimidated, and in a very diplomatic fashion, have a question in mind that will gently but immediately move your prospect to understanding why it’s in THEIR best interest for you to ask questions.
Bob Burg speaks on “Endless Referrals” and “Positive Persuasion.” He is author of “Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales”, “Winning Without Intimidation: The Art of Positive Persuasion”, and co-author of “The Go-Giver” and “ Go-Givers Sell More“. Visit Bob at www.burg.com.

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