Edition: June 2000 - Vol 8 Number 06
Article#: 219
Author: Jeff Slutsky and Marc Slutsky

Two very important elements to successful selling are questions and persistence. And if you want to learn how to master these elements, watch children.

Unlike children, salespeople often quit selling after several ‘Nos’ even though it takes many attempts to close a sale. Jeff's 9-year-old daughter Amanda, for example, is a sales expert. Recently she asked if she could go play with her friend. Here's how the conversation went after Amanda asked her question.

Jeff: ‘No. Dinner will be ready soon.’

Amanda: ‘Why?’

Jeff: ‘Because I said dinner will be ready soon.’

Amanda: ‘Why?’

Jeff: ‘Because I said so.’

Amanda: ‘But why?’

Jeff: ‘Because I'm the daddy!’

This conversation went on for a few more minutes with a total of 16 close attempts. With every objection, Amanda responded with a question. Finally, after the 16th objection, Jeff gave in. ‘Okay already!’ he said. ‘Come back in a half hour!’ Sale closed.

Green Eggs And Ham

How does a little girl know that two of the most important ways to get what you want is by asking questions and being persistent? Well, blame it on the books we read to our children-books like Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

Green Eggs and Ham has two main characters. The first is a salesman named Sam-I-Am. His prospect is the ‘Skeptic.’ Sam is introducing a new product eggs and ham ... and he's trying to get the Prospect to try it. The Prospect's not interested, but Sam keeps using a sales technique called the ‘choice close.’ This is when you give the prospect a choice between two positive responses like ‘Would you like it delivered Tuesday or Wednesday?’ With either choice, the sale is made.

Sam uses the choice close repeatedly on the Prospect by asking: ‘Would you eat them here or there?’ The Prospect objects by answering: ‘I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.’

That's a major objection, and most salespeople would quit, but not Sam. He comes back with another choice close, ‘Would you eat them in a house? Would you eat them with a mouse?’

The Prospect responds with, ‘I would not eat them in a house. I would not eat them with a mouse. I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.’

More objections. For sure, most salespeople would quit now, but not Sam. He comes back with another and another and another choice close. He does this 16 times! Finally, the Prospect breaks down and tells Sam that if he would just leave him alone and not bother him anymore, he'll try the green eggs and ham.

The Prospect tries this new product and guess what? He loves it! The Prospect's going to eat green eggs and ham all the time, and he thanks Sam for the suggestion.

Learn To Ask

To learn how to ask questions, be more persistent, and close more sales, here's an action plan you can follow:

  • Watch a child ask for something he or she really wants.

  • For the next week, set a goal to be more persistent when selling. Don't give up until you've asked for the order at least six times.

  • For each sale, track how many ‘closes’ it takes you to get an order.

  • Buy a copy of Green Eggs and Ham and read it to your sales force at your next sales meeting.

  • Discuss ways you can be more persistent at getting sales in your organization.

Final proof: What's your child's closing percentage on you? What is your closing percentage on your prospects? See what we're talking about?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Jeff Slutsky (left) and Marc Slutsky are brothers who run Street Fighter Marketing, a training company that teaches how to market, sell, and promote on a shoestring budget. They are speakers and the authors of seven books. Jeff and Marc can be reached by calling 1-800-SLUTSKY. Visit their Web site at: www.