I read an article today that I found very interesting.  Some of the suggestions in this article suggest selling “tricks” that go against everything I have been taught.  And yet, some of these recommendations made perfect sense. 

I am writing a summarized version of the article below.  To read the article in its entirety, visit.


We all spend a good part of our day selling.  In addition to whatever product or service our company offers, we often suggest new ideas to our employer, co-workers, our children, friends and spouses.  We try to convince them that our idea is good.  When applying for a job, we are selling ourselves.  One survey demonstrated that 40% of a workers’ day is spent in one form or another of “non-sales” selling.   

This article revealed several ways to improve our “selling” skills that I found very interesting.  

1.      Admit to a small negative.  A study done by the Journal of Consumer Research revealed that prospects purchase products more frequently when the “seller” tells them about a minor flaw with it. 

According to this article, people like to make comparisons.  If we’re selling a product or an idea, when we mention a small problem along with all the great features, the prospect weighs the positives against the tiny negative in their mind, and they usually decide the product is good. 

Using this technique, the prospect is less likely to think up other negatives themselves or compare your product with its competition.  Be sure to discuss the positive features before mentioning the small flaw. 

2.      We have been told forever that the power of positive thinking will increase our chances of success.  However, an article published in Psychological Science suggests a more effective strategy.  Instead of telling ourselves “I can do this,” we should ask ourselves, “Can I do this?” 

The theory behind this suggestion is that asking ourselves questions encourages us to give the task more thought and possibly think of more reasons why we CAN succeed.  We may even come up with a new and better strategy to accomplish the task. 

3.      Insert a mild curse into your presentation.  Normally, we are very careful not to use profanity when speaking with a prospect.  A Northern Illinois University study demonstrated that a mild cuss word inserted into our speech can make us appear to have greater conviction to the product or service we are presenting.  Perceived conviction can increase persuasiveness. 

Do not use cuss words repeatedly during your presentation; once is enough.  And do not feign sincerity.  If you truly are convicted to your service, for instance, you can say, “Excuse my language, but this is a *** good idea.”   

4.      A position of “power” is not always good. If you feel as though you have the upper hand in a sales situation, stop and think of how the prospect will perceive your presentation.  When people find themselves in a position of power, they fail to see the other party’s point of view, which can decrease their ability to be persuasive. 

5.      Most of us have been told that to make a sale, we must help our prospect solve a problem.  Better still try to identify a problem that the potential customer doesn’t even realize they have.   Example:  Instead of submitting a resume for an advertised position, approach a company that has not announced a position.  Tell them ways that you could improve their bottom line. 

When we discuss our accomplishments with our company, they may or may not be impressed.  To balance out your accomplishments, stress the potential.  It seems that (according to a 2012 study at Stanford University and Harvard Business School) people place more importance on the inherent uncertainty about potential than they do on accomplishments. 

For instance, “I have done very well with my company leading to our corporate office asking me to work closely with them to plan for changes and improvements.”  (My accomplishment.)  “Our Founders are seeking more leaders to help the company plan for future products to offer and expansion of our business.” (Prospect’s potential.) 

Some of these concepts I think are very sound and will use in the future.  A couple seemed a bit “way out there” to me.  I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion. 


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  • Thanks so much for all the nice comments.

  • I agree Julie I think these techniques depends on who you are talking to because different people with different attitudes respond to different techniques. Great post will share.

  • Fantastic tips Julie!

  • I really appreciate all your feedback.  We discussed this on my team call last night. I asked for feedback. One thing came up repeatedly, mirroring your prospect, adjusting your presentation to the person to whom you are speaking is important. A few of the suggestions in this blog can be used with some prospects, but not with others.

  • Great post Julie, and loved the bit about approacing someone who hasn't advertised a position and telling them how you can help them !!  Excellent.

  • Interesting article indeed! Not sure profanity is needed to show conviction in the quality of product or service. I believe a prospect can detect our sincerely if we are honest and upfront with the facts and demonstrate real interest in meeting the prospect's need instead of our own.
  • Great Blog Julie! Well done!

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